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So what is *Traditional* Folk Music?

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Soldier boy 12 Oct 06 - 09:39 PM
Rabbi-Sol 12 Oct 06 - 09:51 PM
Bob Bolton 12 Oct 06 - 09:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Oct 06 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,Jon 12 Oct 06 - 10:05 PM
GUEST,memyself 12 Oct 06 - 10:08 PM
GUEST,Richie 12 Oct 06 - 11:21 PM
The Sandman 12 Oct 06 - 11:52 PM
George Papavgeris 13 Oct 06 - 12:27 AM
open mike 13 Oct 06 - 12:54 AM
Rowan 13 Oct 06 - 01:55 AM
Scrump 13 Oct 06 - 03:05 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Oct 06 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,chris 13 Oct 06 - 04:19 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Oct 06 - 04:21 AM
GUEST,Another GUEST (ok - the same as the other on 13 Oct 06 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,Jon 13 Oct 06 - 04:43 AM
GUEST 13 Oct 06 - 04:47 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Oct 06 - 05:13 AM
Singing Referee 13 Oct 06 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,Jon 13 Oct 06 - 05:16 AM
Singing Referee 13 Oct 06 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Jon 13 Oct 06 - 05:22 AM
Scrump 13 Oct 06 - 05:30 AM
George Papavgeris 13 Oct 06 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 13 Oct 06 - 05:41 AM
George Papavgeris 13 Oct 06 - 05:57 AM
Liz the Squeak 13 Oct 06 - 06:02 AM
Big Mick 13 Oct 06 - 07:10 AM
GUEST,chris 13 Oct 06 - 07:10 AM
The Sandman 13 Oct 06 - 08:03 AM
Big Mick 13 Oct 06 - 08:11 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 13 Oct 06 - 08:14 AM
George Papavgeris 13 Oct 06 - 08:15 AM
Big Mick 13 Oct 06 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,chris 13 Oct 06 - 08:43 AM
Big Mick 13 Oct 06 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,Russ 13 Oct 06 - 09:05 AM
dick greenhaus 13 Oct 06 - 09:39 AM
r.padgett 13 Oct 06 - 10:02 AM
Folkiedave 13 Oct 06 - 10:31 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 13 Oct 06 - 10:32 AM
The Sandman 13 Oct 06 - 10:44 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 13 Oct 06 - 10:49 AM
The Sandman 13 Oct 06 - 10:51 AM
Big Mick 13 Oct 06 - 10:57 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 13 Oct 06 - 11:39 AM
Big Mick 13 Oct 06 - 11:43 AM
M.Ted 13 Oct 06 - 06:04 PM
NightWing 13 Oct 06 - 07:42 PM
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Subject: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Soldier boy
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 09:39 PM

I am probably being very naive in creating this thread but from talking to many of my folkie friends I am still confused about what many call "Traditional" folk music.

What exactly is meant by " Traditional " ?

The dictionary says this is the passing and handing down of an established practice or custom.

So it means feeding off and replicating the past. Or does it ?

Does it just mean then that all we can do is unlock and replicate past occurances and forever stay locked in a sort of time warp and never dare to stamp our presence on the present and the future?

I know this is all starting to sound a bit philisophical but please bear with me.

There are many examples of song writers today that write songs that sound kind of traditional ( often with reference to maidens, being at sea, down the mines, farming, protest songs etc etc )

But what about this century? The time we are in now.
If we don't write songs about this age what will our ancestors learn about how we lived now ?

You can't be fixated by the past. We have to move on.

The challenge therefore is to invite much more creativity in todays folk music not to try to copy the ghosts of the past but to express our hopes and observations of the future.

Todays young and up and coming artists are confused about what they are supposed to do. Let's help them by saying just do your own thing.

Because todays observations will become history and will become the new traditions of the future.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 09:51 PM

I agree with you but tell them to go easy on the drums and lower the amplifiers.
                                                 SOL


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 09:57 PM

G'day Soldier boy,

Not creating / singing songs about right now ... is certainly not traditional.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 09:59 PM

The traditions of today are the legacy of the past, as mediated by both change, continuity, and deliberate re-invention.

The traditions of tomorrow may in the same way be the legacy of today and the past that has led up to it; we won't know, though, until it happens.

Our ancestors are mostly dead, and unlikely to be in a position to learn much from us. Our descendants, on the other hand, may inherit some sort of tradition from us. It will depend on whether or not we leave them anything worth having.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 10:05 PM

Because todays observations will become history and will become the new traditions of the future.

Yes, but which obeservations expressed in songs will carry on and be part of future traditions?

Personaly I doubt that much of what I suppose is described as "contemporary folk song" will do.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,memyself
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 10:08 PM

Soldier Boy, did you have a question, or did you want to correct our attitudes, or what?


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 11:21 PM

There are many great songs that are traditional. To me traditional means that the songs have no verifiable author.

How we interpret songs is important and how songs touch us (emotionally) is important.

Just because something is not new doesn't mean it's not of value.

Richie


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 11:52 PM

when I asked musical traditions magazine, how they defined traditional music, I got a strange answer,plus the usual abuse from guests.
There are obviously some very old ballads that qualify,[but somebody must have composed them ] is it a question with tunes, of modes they are written in, i,m notsure.
If you google musical traditions you will find it a very infomative and interesting read,.
Although I dont agree with the editors exclusion of the folk revival, to me tradional music is a continuous stream, that has to include the Folk revival,and may in the future include present day composed songs. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 12:27 AM

Dick, you have noticed that Soldier boy did not refer to the Musical Traditions magazine now, right? :-) So pls leave any moans about it alone, they don't answer Sb's question.

Malcolm's answer is the bets, I subscribe to that. Jon, agreed that not "much" of today's writing efforts will pass into the tradition of the future. But some undoubtedly will - if only we could pinpoint it, we'd get rich! But then, the percentage of the past's efforts that remained as tradition is probably similar anyway; we have no way of knowing really.

Richie, while the "no verifiable author" is part of the current definition of traditional, I think it's starting to creak as recording technology catches up and with it memories get longer - nowadays we do know the authors of several older-than-100-year-old songs, for example, while in the past a song could be termed "traditional" within a couple of generations (except it wasn't of course, it was just "old"; "traditional" I think came into use more recently, and probably after the term "folk" was coined, to differentiate from newer burblings). But I agree that "Just because something is not new doesn't mean it's not of value" - and also the reverse.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: open mike
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 12:54 AM

written by that famous song writer from long ago "Trad."


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 01:55 AM

Don't forget Trad. had a mate called "Anon."

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Scrump
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 03:05 AM

Just because something is not new doesn't mean it's not of value

Agreed, and likewise just because something is new doesn't mean it's not of value.

And another interpretation of "traditional" is "out of copyright" ;-)


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 03:46 AM

traditional

the word comes from the Latin - traditio - I hand over

In England it means, we all sing the songs Martin Carthy and The Watersons handed over to us, and the tunes of Ashley Hutchings.

If you parents handed over some different traditions, you're basically up shit creek and on a collision course with how things are.......


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 04:19 AM

It has been suggested that not too many of 'todays' songs will become part of the tradition.I don't profess to have an answer to that question, but I do wonder how many songs from 'history' didn't survive the 'traditional process'. How many songs/tunes died on the way to present times. Given that we have better information storing techniques today I wonder if more songs, that in the past would have died a natural death, will survive beyond their 'sell by' date. May be the 'tradition' was a filtering process.
chris


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 04:21 AM

Curiously I was about to refer to some of the articles from mustrad....


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Another GUEST (ok - the same as the other on
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 04:34 AM

so was I


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 04:43 AM

What I said was I doubt that much of what I suppose is described as "contemporary folk song" will do. The "contemporary folk song" part seems to be getting ommitted. I suspect for example that pop songs, eg. some Beatles ones will be better represented. Whatever, I don't think wrting a song and declaring it is a "folk song" is going to make a blind bit of difference.

It all seems a jumble to me... But we have songs, eg. Shoals Of Herring, Fiddler's Greem etc. written in a "folk style" that already sort of passed into the "folk tradition" and I'd guess would be safe as long as there are people around with an interest in "traditional" songs.

On the other hand, there is material which to me has no obvious connectiom to traditional folk music and I feel less sure about much of that passing through. It neither seems to "win" for me by appealing to the "traditional route" or by "mass popularity".

I suppose the 20th C changed things for ever but here is a question: If we somehow lost our technology now so that we couldn't record or play back music. Which songs of the 20th C do you see being found in the oral tradition in 100 years time?


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 04:47 AM

You're right on the money there Soldier boy. Sure, preserve the past and learn from it but move on. Those songs were about then. We are in the here and now and need to be writing a whole new bunch of songs to inform the generations to come of the times we live in. Some folks get stuck in a time warp. They feel comfortable where they are and in some cases threatened by something new. Some folks enjoy singing the old songs, that's fine by me, I enjoy listening to them but I prefer to listen to and spend my dollars on contemporary writers of folk song. This can include modern songs about about the old days. I was in the UK some ten or twelve years ago in the county of Durham and had the pleasure of hearing two such writers perform in a small hall out in the sticks. I still play their songs after all this time. One was called John Thorpe and the other was Michael Kelly and the recording is called Tales of Derwentdale. I don't know if anyone out there knows them or if they have any other recordings but I'd sure like to find out. Anyways, that's my 2 cents worth.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:13 AM

get the Waterson/Carthy albums, it'll save time.

There was a song called Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by the Middle of the Road, but it turned out to be be a variant of Brigg Fair.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Singing Referee
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:13 AM

Guest,Jon seemed a bit scathing of contemporary song writers when he said:

"Yes, but which obeservations expressed in songs will carry on and be part of future traditions?

Personaly I doubt that much of what I suppose is described as "contemporary folk song" will do."

Can't possibly agree with that! There must have been hundreds of songs composed and performed at the same time and by the same authors as those we now consider "Tradtional" classics, which didn't survive the test of time. What we now have left are those that were good enough to do so. Becasue we are in the "Now" we experience both the great, good, not so good, and downright awful of contemporary song, but the very best of these have just as much to say about people and like today as did those of 100 to 500 years ago. I'm therefore convinced that these will live on to form part of "Tradition" for generations to follow.

Guest,Richie says

"To me traditional means that the songs have no verifiable author.
"

That's really just a symptom of the difference in levels of education, literacy and most importantly, communications media that existed then amd now. The fact that we now live in an age of global communication means that contemporary songs and knowledge of their autors are easily and rapidly communicated across distances and communities that would previously have taken generation to penetrate. Once again I see no reason why the best of these will not survive the test of time and enter "The Tradition". Just because they may still exist in their original (recorded) form will make them no less relevent as a window back to today from the future. Just as musical presentation has changed over the generations and we now have little issue with "traditional" artists accompanying themselves on guitar and other instruments unheard of (or at least scarce) when the songs were composed, I'd expect today's songs to be reinterpreted by later performers to suit what will then be contemporary taste. That's what I believe the folk process is all about!

IMHO


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:16 AM

There must have been hundreds of songs composed and performed at the same time and by the same authors as those we now consider "Tradtional" classics, which didn't survive the test of time

I'm sure that is true.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Singing Referee
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:20 AM

Hi Guest,Jon

I should have read the rest the thread before ploughing in!

I see you, later made a similar qualification and also touched on my second point, even before your last post.

Do we agree to differ, or differ to agree?


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:22 AM

Let's see what else crops up :-) I feel sure this thread will produce many differing and some quite strong opinions...


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Scrump
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:30 AM

"Which songs of the 20th C do you see being found in the oral tradition in 100 years time?"

Interesting question. If as you say, we weren't able to record songs (which was how things were until the late 19th/early 20th century), which songs would survive the "filtering" process (mentioned above by Guest chris) and be on people's lips in the future? Would it just be stuff like the Beatles' songs, which just about everybody knows, or maybe 'songs from the shows' (Broadway musicals and the like) - or would it include any of the very good but not perhaps so widely known songs being written today by some of the excellent writers we here know, but the public at large doesn't?

GUEST 13 Oct 06 - 04:47 AM has some sensible things to say too, that I largely agree with. The people who composed the old songs we still sing today were just singing about the way things were then, about things that affected their lives, with no conscious attempts to preserve anything. I think any such attempts will end in failure. Yes, some writers still living today have written songs about times before they were alive, and that's fine, but what future generations will also want to hear are songs about the way things are now, so although such songs might not be 'traditional' now, they could be in the centuries to come.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:39 AM

Weelittledrummer, I had to smile there - that was your second reference to Carthy & Co, so I guess there must be a weelittlebee buzzing in that bonnet of yours about them. As near as I can make it, and please correct me if I have the wrong end of the stick, I think you infer that only songs recorded and passed on by Waterson/Carthy etc (let's call them The Establishment if you like) will be preserved, and the rest will disappear... "up shit creek and on a collission course with how things are" as you put it, helped by the fact that those that get the media attention get passed around the most.

I don't agree with this for several reasons. Yes, songs passed on by the Establishment might make it to the mainstream of trad folk and be remembered by most. But this does not mean that other songs will be necessarily forgotten, they just will be remembered by fewer people, let's say.

But even that last sentence of mine might not hold true; fans of trad folk always have an ear for a "new" (as in "rare", not newly written) song, and they pass it on. This effect will help spread the lesser-known songs, as it has done for decades (and centuries? - how about the Jone O'Grinfilt song claiming several parents hundreds of miles from each other today). I can certainly imagine song collectors 50-100 years from now jumping with glee every time they "discover" a non-Establishment trad song; like Fiddlers Green or Dave Webber's songs, for example.

I hold that the folk process of handing on and collecting is a lot more complex, sophisticated and pervasive than we give it credit for, for all that it is not as organised as the media establishment. It is this very lack of organisation and formality that gives it its vitality.

And finally, your comment about there being a "collision course" infers some sort of competition; as if a listener can only hold so many good tunes in preference, and the media establishment is bound to fill this up leaving no room for others. No way, mate - no matter how many good songs I have heard there is always room for more, and I don't believe I am any different to everyone else in that. There may be competition for the dough, the lolly, the purse, but that is commercialism for you, whose influence on the attention of audiences is negative for folk music in general, I grant you. But once someone is a traditional folk music fan, he/she is not limited to only what the commercial music establishment has to offer.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:41 AM

"But what about this century? The time we are in now.
If we don't write songs about this age what will our ancestors learn about how we lived now ?"

I don't normally turn to traditional songs to learn about how my ancestors lived - they tend not to be very useful sources of information (although they may occasionally illuminate the historical record).

"You can't be fixated by the past. We have to move on."

I feel fairly relaxed about being 'fixated on the past' - especially as a large majority of people in our culture seem to be fixated on ignoring or rejecting the past.
Previous attempts at updating traditional music seem to have consisted of turning it into rock music - and, as I have said previously, we've got far too much rock music in our culture as it is.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 05:57 AM

GUEST, Shimrod said "I feel fairly relaxed about being 'fixated on the past' - especially as a large majority of people in our culture seem to be fixated on ignoring or rejecting the past.
".

I am 100% with you on this, and we have next door a good example of what happens when a large majority is fixated on rejecting the past: The Netherlands. I lived there for 7 years and was seriously disappointed at the dearth of traditional songs or even tunes. This can only be partly attributed to the country's puritan past; the greatest factor is the inbuilt attitude that the Dutch have that new is best and old is worn out and irrelevant, fed by their general outward outlook in life (inquisitive explorers, successful traders with far away places, and only a tiny country of their own).

The only songs left there seem to be sea shanties, many of them translations of English ones (understandable as there often were mixed crews). And up in Friesland they are busy writing new songs in the tradition now, again mostly about the sea (Nanne Kalma has written some crackers and has been awarded the country's highest honour for this, equivalent to a knighthood). But songs about farming, hunting or fighting - none left. It's not as if they didn't have their fair share of wars...

Just to the south, the Flemish have done a slightly better job of preserving their traditional songs (the Antwerp Song Book of 1645 has some real beauties); and I argue that this is because of their more inward-looking approach to life that places more value on the old and on the past.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 06:02 AM

Once is happenstance, twice is co-incidence, three times running - it's TRADITION!!

LTS


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 07:10 AM

Notice that none of the forum old timers are getting in this conversation? ***LOL*** We have had this conversation a lot of times, it always disintegrates into an argument about singer songwriters being folksingers i.e. do your own thing, and has a zillion posts.

Songs being written in this century, specifically in the last 20 years cannot be TRADITIONAL songs. Nor can they be folk songs. What they can be are songs sung/written in a folk style.   Singers who sing in a folk style, such as myself and George P and all the others here, may perform in a folk style. We may sing and play TRADITIONAL folk music in addition to contemporary folk style music.

As to what songs will become TRADITIONAL folk songs from today, I doubt that any of them will. Things like the internet, and the way we catalogue and document, have made the TRAD or ANON labels obsolete. It seems to me that we have moved to the point now of simply writing good songs in the folk style. TRADITIONAL folk songs, like Chanties, will become quantifiable and the discoveries of found ones in old archives by collectors like Dan Milner will be a big thing.

I agree with the sentiment that we should simply encourage singers to find their voice and write folk style songs in the TRADITIONAL style. We should also encourage and introduce young singers to the marvellous old TRADITIONAL songs. When we do this, they see the correlation and relevance of this music to today. And they will write songs relevant to what is going on now. This is the folk process at its best.

Mick


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 07:10 AM

I don't know about 'moving on' this seems to imply that we leave things behind and forget them. I think what we should be doing is 'continuing on'. There is no break, just a different bit of the timeline.
chris


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 08:03 AM

my earlier point exactly, chris.
traditional music is like a flowing stream.it is in continuous motion, an uninterrupted connection. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 08:11 AM

Sounds great, Dick. What does it mean? Same could be said for any kind of music. Please read the title of the thread. TRADITIONAL is capitalized. The question is what makes it TRADITIONAL as opposed to music in the folk style. Comments that say "like a flowing stream" make good lyrics, but do nothing to answer the question. Why isn't a song you have written in the folk style considered TRADITONAL? Answer that and you answer the question.

Mick


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 08:14 AM

Hey, Mick:

I usually don't get into these discussions because as you point out, they are endless and unresolveable. One of the assumptions of many people is that if it isn't "traditional" it ain't folk. Not only does the person or persons who formed the song have to be dead, it has to have been long enough ago that nobody remembers who they were.
That's not very comforting. I wonder if in the 1800's, when someone made up a song about logging, if the other lumberjacks sitting around the campfire said, "Stop singing that new-fangled garbage, That's not folk music! You're not even dead yet!!!" Not that they even knew the term.

I don't see other folk arts being so restrictive. No one says, "That isn't a folk quilt because you're still alive."
Tradition never ends. That's the whole thing about traditions: they are carried on. To me, the issue isn't whether a recently written song will be remembered one hundred years from now. If being remembered a hundred or two hundred years later is the criteria, there are many popular songs that have lasted over 100 years. Tradition, to me means something that is carrying on the tradition, and folk music isn't just the Music Of The Dead And Forgotten. I love tradtional music, and enjoy more recently written folk songs that reflect, honor and carry on that tradition.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 08:15 AM

Agreed with the analogy, Dick, except for one thing: The nature of time means that we can only ever look upstream and make guesses about downstream. So there is an artificial "barrier" around "today" or "as far as we can see from here", at any one time. That barrier, artificial though it is, affects how people think of the stream. For example, for some people "traditional"= "the part of the stream we cannot see from here", and it may hold for them greater allure (or not, depending on tastes). For others, the reverse is true.

Me, I am grateful for whatever comes my way.

(God, but I am in a very metaphysical mood. Do I exist? Pinch me, quick!)


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 08:29 AM

I agree with that, Jerry, which is why I made the comment about just encouraging young folks to learn the old songs, and write the new songs. I was not saying that one has to be dead, or the author unknown.

The thread title isn't esoteric. It is asking a clear question. In true Mudcat form, indeed true folk form, the conversation is veering from what was asked to what folks want it to say. The thread didn't ask me what my opinion is on young folk performers, or my opinion on what folk music I like, or if I think I am a folk singer. It asked, very specifically, what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music. It is my opinion that all the 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music has been written. Same as all the 'TRADITIONAL' shanties have been written. That isn't to say that others won't write new songs in the style of shanties, that will be sung in the traditional style. Same with 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music. I don't think we are going to find many more Frank Proffit's singing songs previously unknown on a mountain cabin porch. That isn't to say that the "flowing stream" won't go on. That doesn't mean that new folk singers won't find new ways to interpret the music. That doesn't mean that new songwriters won't write in the style. It just means that the era of 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music is over. We don't discover songs or mountain singers, or little known musical communities anymore.

I hope I am making the distinction properly here.

Mick


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 08:43 AM

'But what about this century? The time we are in now.
If we don't write songs about this age what will our ancestors learn about how we lived now ?'(from Soldier boys original post)I'm not sure that songs necessarily ever say how we 'lived' I think they are often more to do with how we felt.
what date did music become 'TRADITIONAL'if the era is now over.
chris


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 09:04 AM

Chris, one isn't exclusive of the other. At some point in the future, the protest music of the 60's will get study and some singer in the future will sing those songs. But they will never be considered TRADITIONAL in the same context as the songs that were collected from unknown singers of the past in remote areas. That does not mean they aren't valid. Of course the process goes on. Of course the music is a valid look at the times. But it isn't TRADITIONAL in the same sense. It is folk style music, it is historical, and it has a known source. One great example exists right here on this forum, in fact, in this thread. George Papavgeris is a great folk style singer and songwriter. His songs will long outlive him, and provide a specific view of the times. But they will never be considered 'TRADITIONAL', but may be considered in the traditional style.

The era I refer to, is the era of songs whose root cannot be determined with certainty in any way other than generally i.e. Irish, Appalachian etc, hence they are TRADITIONAL and many times the author is ANON. That is the predicate this thread was established on. Because our world is now information based, with places like this where we parse every bit of information, the 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music has become quantifiable. I don't see any major new discoveries coming down the pike. That is not to say that there aren't exciting new folk styles emerging. There are. Music and song is more important now than ever. The issues move so quickly, and the potential cost so dear, that our jobs as the bards of the modern era is more critical than ever.

Mick


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 09:05 AM

Qualifiers get added to terms when the terms start to blur distinctions that the uers of the terms think are important.

So folk music is now a genus
and traditional is the species.

"Traditional folk music" now means what "folk music" used to mean.

Once upon a time "folk" music was the music of the "folk," non-professional musicians who were part of a tradition in which music was passed on orally and aurally.

However, "folk music" now includes professional musicians who are not and never were part of such an aural/oral musical tradition and/or whose repertoire includes no material from such a tradition.

I personally don't have a problem with the meanings of words changing. It happens. Can't be stopped.

But if the meaning of a word changes significantly, you either stop using it or qualify it.
Thus "traditional folk music."

By the way, I personally use the term "folk music" only as a conversation stopper.

When people ask me what sort of music I do, if I don't want to begin an extended conversation, I reply "Folk music."

That usually elicts a a weak smile, a "that's nice," and an immediate change of topic.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 09:39 AM

I think ythat the most ridiculous aspect of this type of discussion is the idea of "The Tradition" (singular) as if there were only one.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: r.padgett
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 10:02 AM

I couldn't care less anymore

Sing/play it and be damned!!

Ray


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 10:31 AM

I agree with Ray. It really isn´t important and I don´t see pop or classical music agonising over definitions. And I suspect, like one or two others on this thread I have spent a number of evenings after a folk club earnestly and fruitlessly discussing the topic over a cup of cocoa.

Now I just have the cocoa.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 10:32 AM

" I don't think we are going to find many more Frank Proffit's singing songs previously unknown on a mountain cabin porch. That isn't to say that the "flowing stream" won't go on. That doesn't mean that new folk singers won't find new ways to interpret the music. That doesn't mean that new songwriters won't write in the style. It just means that the era of 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music is over. "

I don't think it is necessarily "over", it has just evolved.   The songs that collectors were gathering from people like Frank Proffit may have been unkown outside of Proffit's home and perhaps community. The Warners collected Tom Dooley in 1938 - a song about a man who was hung in 1868. That song was written at some point in the 70 year gap. IF the technology existed, we would probably have a clearer picture on the origin of that song as well as others that we now consider "traditinal".

My point is that just collectors gathered songs and variations - using the tools that they had available - usually memories of people who sang the song. In 2006, the mode of transportation for songs are decidedly different. You could not make an audio recording of "Tom Dooley" in 1868 and the song was transmitted orally.   If someone were to write a song about Tom Dooley today, we would probably have a recording, a website to refer to, sheet music, and copyrights for the writer.    The "tradition" has evolved, it is not dead.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 10:44 AM

however on friday oct 13 2006, we can say that at this moment in time.the cruel brother, the highwayman outwitted,Dives and lazarus,
lord thomas and fair elinor and most of the child ballads are considered traditional,
but JUMPING jACK flash.hit me with your rhythm stick,ha ha they are coming to take me away,are generally considered not.
now it cant just be the modes these tunes are in,becauseflamenco [ generally considerd traditional]is in the same mode as heavy rock [ the phrygian mode],heavy rock is not generally considered traditional.
excuse me for stating the obvious, but it is necessary to work out what is not traditional and put it to one side to come near the answer. what we are trying to ascertain is what is considered traditional on friday oct13 2006, not what might be traditional in 200 years time.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 10:49 AM

"excuse me for stating the obvious, but it is necessary to work out what is not traditional and put it to one side to come near the answer. what we are trying to ascertain is what is considered traditional on friday oct13 2006, not what might be traditional in 200 years time."

Well, if the word "traditional" is causing such a problem, how about calling them "golden oldies" instead??????   "greatest hits"???

I think we go way overboard when we try to catagorize and put everything in boxes.   Songs should not be left in museums, they should be enjoyed.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 10:51 AM

hello RAY PADGETT how are all the barnsley lads and Johnny Booker, I agree with you I too sing what I like, as did fRED JORDAN. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 10:57 AM

Ron, you make my point, but I don't think you meant to. I think the confusion comes from not differentiating between "the tradition" and 'TRADITIONAL' music. I am a complete advocate of carrying on the tradition, and my delivery, most of the time, is a traditional styled delivery. But the thread is about 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music. Look carefully at the title.   This is why these threads always descend into chaos. Folks don't make the appropriate distinctions. Dick's original songs can never be considered 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music, although he sings and writes in the tradition. Given the state of information gathering, cataloguing, and records keeping, we will always know where it came from, we will always know the context it was written in. Another example would be the music/poetry of Robert Burns. It isn't traditional, but traditional singers perform it. But the songs collected from folks like Bess Cronin and Jeannie Robertson, passed down through the generations, author unknown, and reflective of the times they were written in, can be said to be 'TRADITIONAL' folk music. The Dublin and Belfast street songs, author unknown, sung by the children or by someone like Frank Harte, are 'TRADITIONAL' folk songs. They are finite, and as we evolve, they are quantifiable.

Mick


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 11:39 AM

Mick, the point I was trying to make is that "traditional" is almost a misnomer - perhaps "unknown" is more appropriate.   What I was trying to say is that we are calling these "traditional" because as you say they were passed down through generations and the author is unknown, but that is a reflection on the tools that were available to
"transmit" these songs.

Yes, I guess I did prove your point that "traditional" is dead in the respect that modern technology will enable us to better trace the authors of songs - sort of like how DNA enables us to identify human remains which could make it impossible to have unidentified bodies in the future.   

However, "traditional" is merely a label that is more of a reflection of "dead-ends" in our research.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 11:43 AM

But I would readily agree that for all this discussion, which is interesting, no?, the real answer is to just sing the songs, tell the stories, and pass it on. I just dearly love helping people "see the movie in their mind" when I sing one of these great songs from tradition, or one of the marvelous songs of our modern folk writers. I heard Terry Gross interviewing Gladys Pip yesterday. I was nodding my head in agreement when Gladys said that she had to go there, when singing, in order to take the listener along. She was referring to knowing all about Paris when singing about it. She was referring to listening to the entire catalogue of the singers who she was honoring on her latest CD. Same way with the ballads and songs of tradition, and the songs of our modern writers. I always try to take the listener along. Whether it is my version of "Gypsy Davey", "The Death of Queen Jane", or one of Jed Marum's splendid songs like "The Banks of the Mobile" or "Con Este Beso", I try to live it and take the listener there with me.

Yeah, these discussions are interesting, even fun. But the meat of it is not to get all bogged down in it. Just sing the damn songs and play the music.

LOL.

Mick


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 06:04 PM

A lot of what passes for traditional music, hereabouts, at least, is really just "Folk Club Pop"--music that was created to suit the tastes of specific, contemporary audience. Perhaps "collected" songs are performed, and even in a style that is derived from a tradition--but they are no longer a part of that tradition--they really have become something new.

Wherever it comes from, however it gets to be what it is, performed music always speaks to an audience of the present--and it lasts only as long as people like hearing it--


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: NightWing
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 07:42 PM

One way to get an idea (an extremely rough idea) of what kind of proportion of modern music might be remembered 100 years in the future occurred to me.

Look at some of the on-line collections of sheet music. The ones that *I* have used most include:

The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music, Milton S. Eisenhower Library, The Johns Hopkins University

Inventions of Note: Sheet Music Collection, Lewis Music Library, MIT

The Digital Sheet Music Collection at University Libraries, University of Colorado at Boulder

There are MANY others!

Look through the music in one of these and count the number of songs that you are familiar with compared with the number of songs you look at. I recall looking through the Levy Collection some time ago: the Collection returned about 500 results from the search that I had made; I had only ever heard or heard of ONE of the lyrics. (Interestingly enough, several dozen of the tunes were familiar ... with different lyrics.)

I suggest that doing this kind of count over a reasonably large selection of music from 100 years ago would give you a decent guess at the proportion of today's music that will survive 100 years.

Given that there are more of us today, I would assume that there are more songs coming out today. I would guess, however, that the proportions should be similar.

*shrug*

It's a thought.

BB,
NightWing


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