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It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?

Related threads:
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Richard Bridge 16 Mar 07 - 01:20 PM
PoppaGator 16 Mar 07 - 02:20 PM
Linda Kelly 16 Mar 07 - 02:29 PM
Peace 16 Mar 07 - 02:33 PM
Peace 16 Mar 07 - 02:47 PM
Little Robyn 16 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM
Peace 16 Mar 07 - 03:11 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Mar 07 - 03:20 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Mar 07 - 03:24 PM
Muttley 16 Mar 07 - 03:27 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Mar 07 - 03:51 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Mar 07 - 03:55 PM
Peace 16 Mar 07 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Mar 07 - 04:16 PM
Peace 16 Mar 07 - 04:36 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Mar 07 - 05:35 PM
Peace 16 Mar 07 - 05:39 PM
Severn 16 Mar 07 - 05:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Mar 07 - 09:09 PM
Bert 16 Mar 07 - 09:19 PM
Lonesome EJ 16 Mar 07 - 09:26 PM
Fred Maslan 16 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 17 Mar 07 - 04:49 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 05:04 AM
Mr Red 17 Mar 07 - 05:15 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 05:34 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 17 Mar 07 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Dan 17 Mar 07 - 07:23 AM
Duke 17 Mar 07 - 07:25 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Mar 07 - 07:57 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 08:30 AM
GUEST 17 Mar 07 - 09:12 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Mar 07 - 10:06 AM
GUEST 17 Mar 07 - 10:41 AM
Ernest 17 Mar 07 - 10:53 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 11:03 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Mar 07 - 11:45 AM
Ruth Archer 17 Mar 07 - 12:11 PM
Ruth Archer 17 Mar 07 - 12:14 PM
GUEST 17 Mar 07 - 12:26 PM
Ruth Archer 17 Mar 07 - 12:30 PM
Stringsinger 17 Mar 07 - 12:49 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Mar 07 - 12:51 PM
Richard Bridge 17 Mar 07 - 01:01 PM
Ruth Archer 17 Mar 07 - 01:06 PM
Little Robyn 17 Mar 07 - 02:21 PM
GUEST 17 Mar 07 - 02:32 PM
Peace 17 Mar 07 - 03:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Mar 07 - 05:19 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Mar 07 - 05:47 PM
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Uncle_DaveO 17 Mar 07 - 06:35 PM
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Richard Bridge 17 Mar 07 - 07:52 PM
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The Sandman 18 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM
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Stringsinger 18 Mar 07 - 03:16 PM
The Sandman 18 Mar 07 - 03:16 PM
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The Sandman 18 Mar 07 - 05:52 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Mar 07 - 05:53 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 Mar 07 - 06:01 PM
Tootler 18 Mar 07 - 07:01 PM
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nutty 19 Mar 07 - 05:56 AM
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Jerry Rasmussen 19 Mar 07 - 10:44 AM
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Richard Bridge 19 Mar 07 - 06:34 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 20 Mar 07 - 06:57 AM
deadfrett 20 Mar 07 - 07:51 AM
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Nick 20 Mar 07 - 09:19 AM
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Stringsinger 20 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 20 Mar 07 - 11:42 AM
Nick 20 Mar 07 - 12:53 PM
Nick 20 Mar 07 - 12:55 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Mar 07 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Mar 07 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Someone else 20 Mar 07 - 02:04 PM
GUEST,Ogman 20 Mar 07 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Mar 07 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,Someone else 20 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Mar 07 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,Someone else 21 Mar 07 - 02:47 AM
Gurney 21 Mar 07 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Someone else 21 Mar 07 - 03:43 AM
GUEST 21 Mar 07 - 05:07 AM
Ernest 21 Mar 07 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Mar 07 - 10:32 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Mar 07 - 11:14 AM
Tootler 21 Mar 07 - 03:01 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 07 - 06:40 PM
Peace 21 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 07 - 07:02 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Mar 07 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,wordy 21 Mar 07 - 07:13 PM
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Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 07 - 09:35 PM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 03:31 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 03:45 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 Mar 07 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,A court user 22 Mar 07 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,Richard Bridge at a different computer 22 Mar 07 - 06:07 AM
Scrump 22 Mar 07 - 06:13 AM
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John MacKenzie 22 Mar 07 - 06:20 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 06:32 AM
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Scrump 22 Mar 07 - 06:45 AM
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Subject: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 01:20 PM

At Scrump's kind invitation I reprise my earlier question.

I said: "I think we need a new word. You see, to pedants like me, a folk musician should play folk music and folk music has been defined (see other threads). We also have very pleasant singarounds, song sessions, and sessions (note the Oxford or Harvard comma) at which quite a lot of music that is not folk music is played, listened to and enjoyed. That music is however distinguishable from other more populist types which (English and US readers will disagree over whether there should be a comma before "which") usually revolve around more amplification and have developed from, in many cases, different sources.

In practice the performers of this unnamed music are usually welcomed. It is the perfectly correct observation that what they are doing is not "folk" that gives the incorrect impression of exclusion.

I have previously suggested "New Folk" by analogy to "New Country" quite a lot of which is no longer new and quite a lot of which was never country.   Any better ideas?"

Scrump said: "I think this is worthy of a separate thread, Richard. Would you care to do the honours?"


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 02:20 PM

I think that the very-most-recent posting to that earlier (and now very long) discussion makes an excellent distinction, betewen "folksongs" and "folk music":

Subject: RE: What IS Folk Music?
From: GUEST, Mikefule - PM
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 01:20 PM
(Note the date and time; sooner or later, Mikefule's post will no longer appear at the bottom of the thread, as it does right now, as I begin writing this message.)

I'll paraphrase his suggestion: "Folk Music" can be defined by the spirit and intention of its participants ~ playing for personal enjoyment, community intercommunication, etc., while "Folk Songs" are those whose particular histories define them as belonging to certain recognized traditional folk cultures.

Songs that are not folk songs can become part of "folk music," as defined here, and indeed do so very often. Songs originally written for the popular commercial music biz become so well known that folks spontaneously adopt them for their communal enjoyment. Examples: "Over the Rainbow," many Beatles songs, etc.

On the other hand, recognized folksongs can be performed in a commercial or otherwise gussied-up, non-"folk" context, and thus fail to be part of "folk music" in that particular guise. Mikefule gives the excellent example of Thin Lizzy's version of "Whiskey in the Jar."


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 02:29 PM

At our Wednesday folk session, we sung Shallow Brown & Some Old Salty -and then did a jamming session till the early hours where we sung Neil Young, the Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel and God Forbid -the Bee Gees. I write songs in an English traditional style about events and communities in this country. I don't let the music define me, and I cannot understand why it seems so important that it is defined-although if you want it that way then that's fine by me. I wish though ,that we could talk more about our love of music than which side of the border we reside upon. (Please don't bother correcting my grammar-it's been a long and lousy day!)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 02:33 PM

I, think, this, is, a, great id,ea, for, a, thread, comma.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 02:47 PM

Richard, you have done a great service to this site. For too long the 'battle' has raged about folk--which songs qualify and which don't. I really like your notion of 'new folk' to distinguish modern treatments of trad songs. Good one!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM

It's probably easier to define if you put the word 'traditional' in front, or 'contemporary', 'country' etc. You can then have 'popular' folksongs of the 60s - P,P&M for example, or 'traditional' tunes for a dulcimer, or a 'modern' blues that was composed last week.
That way they can come under the umbrella of 'Folk' while staying in separate/definable pockets.
I prefer 'trad' stuff these days but can still enjoy 'popular' songs occasionally.
But I don't believe Beatles or Judy Garland songs will ever become 'Folk'.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 03:11 PM

"But I don't believe Beatles or Judy Garland songs will ever become 'Folk'."

But does it matter? (No offense.)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 03:20 PM

of course its folk - you're folk, aren't you? Not bloody kangaroos.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - speaks more profoundly to a population shafted into outmoded social groups, for the most part doing rotten underpaid jobs that insult their intelligence, living in cheap accomodation, and eating whatever the supermarkets can get away with - just inside the legal definition of garbage.

More profoundly than some dull miserable recitation abot the Plains of Waterloo - probably written by someone who didn't come within a thousand miles of the battle.

The interface with the human condition is what makes it folk music - not what someone of endlessly crawling up the bum of the folk establishment thinks - if he could think.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 03:24 PM

If you don't make any money singing it, it's folk music... :-) I would think that we could call ourselves folk singers, us being folks and singing a fair amount of what is called folk music. I refer to the songs I write as "original," (although some could argue that they are hackneyed or re-hashed browns.)

I wonder how many people on here only do one kind of song? Not many, I'd guess. What we do is what we enjoy doing and it resists being limited to a single label.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Muttley
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 03:27 PM

OI !!!!

Don't knock the kangaroos!

They're folk, too - just bloody big rat-shaped ones!

Muttley


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 03:51 PM

The only kangaroo I know that's folk is Skippy (with two Ps).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 03:55 PM

And if those who are depriving a village of an idiot would care to (fill in the gaps).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:11 PM

Real converstaion starter there. Have a good thread.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:16 PM

A suggestion for those of you who don't want to listen to 'real' Folk Music:

Why don't you set up 'New Folk Clubs' where you can sing/play anything you like? And why don't you and your audiences take some responsibility for whatever you decide to sing/play in them - instead of expecting we who are interested in 'real' Folk Music to approve of your choices?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 04:36 PM

Frankly, most of the musicians I know have never given a rat's ass whether you who are in 'real' folk music like what they do. I expect the feeling would be mutual.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 05:35 PM

I am rather disappointed by the turn the thread has taken. What one likes is subjective, and cannot be prescribed. What it IS, however, is a matter of definition - or of meaning.

These days, at least in the UK, there are few venues that require "folk music only". I gather NTMC used to be like that, and Peacehaven. Slats mentioned to me the other evening that his then band were once booked by a club - and turned up with double bass, 12-string, piano accordian and violin, their usual lineup, only to be told that the club had known only of their unaccompanied work and had a club rule of "no instruments". They did an evening as guests doing only unaccompanied song.

The point of seeking a new definition was to clarify the implication that a "folk club" would permit only "folk music". It was to prevent the unwarranted (I thought) inference of unworthiness of music that was not "folk".

So, a "folk club" might expect only folk music. A (whatever) club might expect music within the broader ambit of the new coinage. A "country music club" might expect only country music. A reggae open mic might be adversely surprised when an "oi" band (which is very different from an "oy" band) took the stage.

This had nothing to do with claims to primacy - indeed part of the idea was to avoid the implication that one form of music was better than another merely because the latter fell outside the definition of the former, and I think some early posters took that idea on board.

It does however follow that some types of music are not relevant to other types of music. Scandinavian death metal is not relevant to barbershop, and might not expect to be represented in an exposition of the latter.

If we had a new expression - like "new country" - it would be axiomatic that a "Folk" club" was about "Folk" music, and a "Whatever" club was about "Whatever" music, and expressions like "Real Folk" would not be needed so the implication that "Real Folk" was superior to "Whatever Music" would not arise.

This may have been part of what Shimrod was seeking to convey, and I think, Peace, that you may have found an unintended meaning - indeed one that was not really even implied. If I create an "obnig" music club, it is going to be about "obnig" music, not Neapolitan opera. Those who wish to perform the latter should not be surprised if they are treated as intruders at an obnig club.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 05:39 PM

I agree, Richard. I have sung in clubs where the clientelle want trad songs. I sang trad songs. Only a cad or novice would inflict rock and roll on people who want songs about open country and the range. I do agree with you, and possibly I did misunderstand. Frankly, I am not much of a purist, but I'm not completely stupid either, contrary to some folks' opinions on this site. A fool would play X for an audience that had clearly paid money to hear Z. So, I'll leave what I hope becomes a great thread, and one long overdue, IMO. Best to you.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Severn
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 05:56 PM

I've heard "Over The Rainbow" and other songs like Elvis' hit "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" used as lullabies to put infants to bed on various occasions. They are being used for the same purpose as "Go Tell Aun't Rhody" going into tradition for traditional uses in the same way songs by Stephen Foster and Brahms did toward the same end.

And if the baby won't go to sleep, you keep pulling out songs, ANY songs, from the hat until they do, because what worked for Gartan Mothers did not work on this particular night. Nor, maybe, did songs written specifically to be "folk lullabies",like "Hobo's", "Prairie" or "Liverpool" which folkies find perfectly acceptable. If the song gets the intended job done, it becomes a tradition, if only a family tradition, and if a lot of folkies from the 'burbs turned to the music out of frustration from lack of traditions, the lullabye will still thrive anyplace, any time, any culture.

See, you had a tradition all the time, but you managed to sleep through it without realizing it!

Apply the same criteria to other tasks and see what other songs have passed into tradition.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 09:09 PM

I think there's a trap i talking about tradition as if there was a single tradition, which is obviously rubbish even within countries or regions.

But the even bigger mistake is to talk about the tradition as if it were a thing, a kind of treasure chest maybe. A tradition, a living tradition at least, is a process rather than a thing, and it is a process that is ongoing. New songs and new tunes can be produced through that process, and they will be recognisably part of that tradition.

And other new songs and tunes will not be - though of course they might be part of some other tradition.

"Folk" is both too narrow a label for "what it is we do", and too broad. What I mean is, typically we will find ourselves bringing in songs and tunes from some other traditions than the ones thta are popularly termed "folk"; and at the same time we are completely unaware of all kinds of musical traditions that are unquestionably traditional folk music in any academic context. The only advantage is has is that it's such an "uncool" term that it scares off some people who can do with being scared off.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Bert
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 09:19 PM

I don't want to get TOO pedantic here, but "pleasant singarounds" is what 'FOLK' - REALLY is.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 09:26 PM

In the modern terminology used among the youth of this mighty nation, someone playing an acoustic guitar is likely doing Folk. If a violin or mandolin or banjo is also heard, it is definitely Folk.

Among the past winners of the Grammy for Folk Album of the Year...Roger McGuinn for an album that featured Roger, Judy Collins and Jean Richey performing traditional music...and Steve Earle for an album of self-penned songs featuring amplified instruments and thundering drums. But I think Steve had a mandolin in there somewhere.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Fred Maslan
Date: 16 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM

I am reminded of what Sharon Lois and Bram defined as childrens' music,,,anything children want to sing.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 04:49 AM

Thanks to Richard Bridge - yes, I think you have grasped what I was trying to say.

Actually, if I ran a Folk Club (which I don't, and have no intention of doing) I don't think that it would be too unreasonable to have some sort of club policy concerning what type(s) of music the club should feature. Nevertheless, this might be extremely difficult to write and, contrary to what many people might think of me, I would strive NOT to make such a policy too restrictive (eg. a policy which requires only unaccompanied singing is patently absurd!).

I still believe that the key problem is related to the dominance of the 'Rock' form, and it's various Pop offshoots, in our culture. It does seem to me that many people just can't see beyond this particular form and think that all music should sound like Rock (speaking personally, I don't particularly like Rock and this is one of the reasons why I started going to folk clubs in the first place!).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 05:04 AM

Just re-read what I wrote and of course, its rubbish - still that's what mudcat's about - aplace where you can talk rubbish.

Of course Plains of Waterloo is a great human document. And its as much wish fulfilment as Somewhere Over the rainbow.

In those days . as now - people went off to the war and got ruined every which way. Life didn't supply the happy endings - so songs had to.

Rather like the New Deserter. In life the bloke got shot - in folksong, Prince albert comes up and saves him. And there is passion there. We should not be singing anything just because its dull and worthy and its tradtional.

And a lot of people - not just floorsingers - are doing just that.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 05:15 AM

Open Stage, song circle, come all ye, ballad session, acoustic session, jam, singaround

As (take yer pick) Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, Big Bill Broonzy, Fats Waller have allegedly said. It's all folksinging - "I ain't never heard a horse sing"

For me it has to be folk singing/playing. If an electrical switch is involved it ain't folk singing - it is electronics. And I should know.

Or entertainment and there is more than enough of that at the flick of a switch.

Mr Red (MIEE)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 05:34 AM

how do you stand on vibrators Mr Red?
to flick the switch, or not to flick the switch.....


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 05:44 AM

Hi Everybody,

Some sage comments here from McGrath of Harlow and Richard Bridge, which I'm happy to endorse. Forgive me for blowing my own trumpet but I wrote a piece about this question which appeared in Living Tradition magazine (Issue 68, May-June 2006), under the title "Do We Still Need That F-Word?".    If anybody out there read it, and has comments, I'd be delighted to hear from them. And if you haven't read it, the answer was "Yes, we do".

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Dan
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:23 AM

Nice idea Richard, if the rest of Britain wasn't way ahead of you... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nu-folk

The mainstream media has been talking about "nu-folk" for a year or so as a way to describe all these non-trad acts.

It is a good idea though!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Duke
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:25 AM

To define something is to limit it. I don't like to lable my music, I just play it and hope for the best.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:57 AM

Interesting how much important this issue seems to be in England. Last year, I led a workshop titled Church And Street Corner Harmony, showing the black gospel roots of doo wop. My friends in an a capella doo wop group and my gospel quartet split the program. I've also noticed that Doo Wop is being sung informally at more and more folk festivals. I suspect that it would never be sung at a folk festival or folk club in England. The Doo Wop group, The Persuasions have also performed at folk clubs here. Doo Wop would most likely not fit the definition of many Catters in Europe, and yet it has many of the qualities of folk music: It came out of local communities where people sang with simple accompaniment, or unaccompanied. The singers were rarely professionally trained and singing occurred as a natural part of community life. I'm not making a case to call Doo Wop folk music... just that people seem a little more relaxed over here about labels. To me, it doesn't matter whether someone calls it folk. I wouldn't. I'd call it Doo Wop, just as I'd call Blues "Blues" and Gospel "Gospel." I can't even imagine going to a club or coffee house to hear someone just on the basis that they were doing "folk" music. It would be like saying to my wife, "Honey, do you want to go hear a concert of classical music?" As long as someone's music is adequately described. that's all I need to decide whether I'd like to hear them or not.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 08:30 AM

Its like the hunting thing Jerry; in England it polarises people on a class basis.

Folk is music that demands an intelligent and listening audience in a way that much pop music doesn't. The instruments can't be turned up to eleven. Its music, much of which, doesn't fit into brash and noisy surroundingd with chattering drunken audiences.

Some people can't resist the impulse to make it even more exclusive - and so we have talk of a esoteric 'tradtion' that only the initiated and wise will comprehend and appreciate.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 09:12 AM

This has nothing whatsoever to do with class warfare (or hunting - good grief, does this man have a chip on his shoulder or what?)!

There IS a body of work called - perhaps unhelpfully - the tradition, which was created in a particular way which can no longer be replicated today (though other processes do function). That makes it valuable and worthy of respect (not ossification - respect).

It's not esoteric nor only available only to the initiated or the wise. It's everyone's, and free to anyone willing to listen and learn.

No-one is trying to make it excusive, or use it in some class struggle.

What people do try to do is make sure that a now-lost process and finite catalogue is respected, rather than being plundered willy-nilly with no attribution or recognition of its unique values, or, worse, diluted and confused with other different (though maybe equally good new works) which were not made by that now lost process.

It's only the same as recognising and respecting, say, the Impressionist Movement, or De Styl.

If someone today painted a house brick and called it art we could have a debate about its merits and value. But if they said it was a Dutch Master they'd be plain wrong.

And that's all people are doing.

Sadly some writer/players today like Mr Drummer seem so keen to have their own works recognised that they interpret all attempts to preserve the rights of others (in this case a continuum of others) some blockage of their rights.

Sour grapes, it seems to me.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 10:06 AM

Oh unnamed Guest: I love traditional music, respect and value it greatly. And I respect what you have said. It grieves me that so few people have an interest in it anymore. My difference in perspective is that if traditonal music is to be revered and preserved, I think it would be better served to take it out to the "folk," not limit it to folk clubs and folk societies. If I sing Three Nights drunk for a group of people who have no idea what folk music is, and in honesty, no interest in the proper definition, they respond to the song. They don't give a damn who recorded it, or where I learned it, or how many variants there are or whether Cecil Sharp collected it. All they have is the song, not presented in hushed reverence. Just the song. And they love it. If we love and value the songs, we should trust them enough to set them free in the world, not carefully nurture them in the nest. I've done Coal Man Blues at a street fair in an inner city area and people got up and danced to it.

We need something greater than folk enclaves. We need to take the songs back to the people; most of whom have no idea what folk music is.

Trust the music.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 10:41 AM

You are completely right Jerry.

But by the same token, when we set those songs free we have a duty to tell people where they came from, and point them to that archive, so that maybe a few will go and do the same.

THAT's what's important. Attribution. Plain and simple.

It's like real ale. If you only ever gave people cask ale in a plain can labelled only 'beer,' and did the same with lagers both rare and rubbish, they'd never know the difference. And what a shame that would be. Half the pleasure comes form knowing how it's made, and where. No?

It drives me mad that people like Drummer, for whatever strange reason, always see the simple desire to provide correct and informative 'consumer information' about music as some attempt to stop people listening to it!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ernest
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 10:53 AM

Great post, Jerry!

But the best thing about it is: you can have both.

You can entertain people who don`t know anything about the background of the song one night and still give a lenghty introduction on the same song the next night if you have a audience interested in it.

You can play a tune traditionally one night and amplified, jazzed up ot whatever suits you the next.

A good f-song or tune is indestructable (I am not so sure if that works with other kinds of music...haven`t heard unplugged techno yet).

Do we need a new word? I don`t think so. Every genre of music has so many sub-genres nowadays that just the one word isn`t very descriptive. Seems we just need MORE words (did I mention that I am a lawyer? ;0)

Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 11:03 AM

No, what distresses me is that great artists are discounted , because the tradition is like some awful hegemony that grabs all the creative opportunities , outlets , commissions, government subsidies, festival budgets for itself and still moans, and moreover prevents other acoustic artists from being heard.


Last week, Jack Hudson took his seat onstage in a Derby folk club. The audience, as one, laughed ironically when someone shouted out - Hell freezes over then Jack! apparently Folkweave had played one of Jack's recordings.

That the local BBC radio station should choose to practically never play any of the music of this giant of the folk club world is a sheer bloody disgrace. As also is the fact that the late Roger Brooks of Nottingham never had a record released in this country.

If you were to ask me if it had anything to do with jack Hudson coming from a very working class background - I'd say yes, I damn well do believe that.

For myself, I have been very lucky. I had a hit record abroad, was flexible enough never to have to beg for work on the folk scene, so I've been able to continue my work as an artist without your gracious help.

As far as I'm concerned, most days i wish the tradition would combust spontaneously, particularly smart arses like your self, Mr Faceless Guest.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 11:45 AM

"If you have an audience interested in it." Attributed to Ernest

Ah Hah, there's the rub.

The audience determines the performance.

I've heard performers give "too much information" on the background of a song and who recorded, it in a public setting where Mom and Dad and the kids stop by for a minute to hear what's going on. I can't believe that they're likely to rush out and buy a Buell Kazee CD after the performance. The performers weren't respecting their audience's interests, or the setting.

I ran a folk concert series for 27 years, and the audience became quite knowledgeable about traditional music, because that's all that I booked (with the notable exceptions of Gordon Bok and Bill Staines.) One festival, I booked a performer for workshops who was very knowledgeable. He did a workshop at 1 in the afternoon, and his introductions were so long, that several people in the audience actually dozed off. You'd think that if you were giving long introductions and you saw that your audience was falling asleep (the room was well lit, so the performer couldn't help but notice,) you'd lighten up a little and cut back on the information.
He didn't. And, I never booked him for a full concert.

Caution: Do not listen to these introductions while operating heavy equipment.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 12:11 PM

weelittledrummer above is talking nonsense. Guest above is absolutely spot on.

There is no exclusivity about the tradition apart from the kind of reverse snobbery sometimes applied to anything which requires a little bit of effort to engage with. Just because something is takes time and understanding doesn't make it elitist. What a load of dumbed-down nonsense. The only people excluded from an appreciation of the tradition have imposed that exclusion upon themselves.

"the tradition is like some awful hegemony that grabs all the creative opportunities , outlets , commissions, government subsidies, festival budgets for itself"

Excuse me while I fall about laughing. Festival budgets? Government subsidies?! The amount of money spent on traditional arts by the government in this country is laughable - and about to get worse, once all the sports lummoxes have finished plundering the lottery fund for their little party in 2012. Traditional music and dance is not prioritised in any way by government subsidy - it's the bastard, red-headed stepchild of "high art" - orchestral music, ballet, opera. Now THAT's elitism. The kind of entertainment you pay £100 a ticket for - not a canon of traditional work that's available, freely and openly, for anyone to access if they can just be arsed.

And where are these huge festival budgets being plundered by "traditional" music? Look at Cambridge, one of the biggest folk festivals in the country. Where are the "traditionalists" that are monopolising their lineup? You might get a sniff of trad on the Club Tent stage - everywhere else it's commercial folk, singer/songwriters, Americana and world music. Cropredy must be the biggest folk festival in the country in terms of attendance - where are the "traditionalists" monopolising their budget? It's folk rock heaven, and nary a 36 verse Child ballad in sight - unless Fairport happen to be singing Matty Groves.

The kinds of festivals that are dominated by tradition are the sorts of homespun, DIY affairs much valued by the people of this parish. And why? Because there's no bloody money in the tradition, that's why. All the money goes into the more commercial end of the folk market - the stuff that shifts units and gets played on the radio.

It's not bloody rocket science, is it?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 12:14 PM

"f you were to ask me if it had anything to do with jack Hudson coming from a very working class background - I'd say yes, I damn well do believe that."

Then you're deluded. Many traditional folk artists come from a working-class background. That godawful dreary Damien Dempsey played the main stage at Cambridge with his dirges. Annd there's no one working the prolier-than-thou vibe more than he is.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 12:26 PM

And where, Mr Drummer, did you get the inspiration for your famous Overseas Hit? For that matter, how did you even become a Folk Musician? Where did you cut your teeth? Where did you learn your craft? And where did your heros and role models get their ideas from? Where did THEIR idols get their inspiration? And where did your audience acquire its taste for this flavour of music?

You owe it ALL to music that was inspired and informed by the tradition. If not you'd be a Pop, Funk, Grunge, Reggae or some Other type of musician. It is ungracious in the extreme of you to want to see the tradition eradicated. (But then I've read your posts in the past so I'm not surprised).

But you can't deny the influence of traditional music, and be taken seriously by anyone. Ever.

Myself; I don't do much trad stuff, and I've been turned down by many trad clubs for that reason. But I don't mind. I recognise the importance of seed-corn and the preservation of a gene bank - and the right of those clubs to favour the music they love.

Now. This class thing - you are just SO wrong. A majority of the pros who work the club circuit and bestride festival stages are of 'working' stock. But in any event you're fighting a battle that became irellevant in the last century, for many reasons.

In folk, the music is everything. It's a meritocracy. People's reastion is based on how well you do it. And market forces cut in when money changes hands - as with anything else. And even more so when it comes to radio.

They'll never play me - but that's not a class-based decision. That's about money, percentages, play-list policy, audience shares and production values. Contacts help, but that's always been the case everywhere. (In the old days it got you a job down the mine too).

As for length of introductions - that's a different matter. Yes, some go on way too long and provide far too much detail. But that's not the issue. The issue is just saying who made the song or tune, and respecting that person or persons' creation.

How can that be a bad - or a class-based - thing?

Look - we have no problem with someone from Cuba starting up a Cuban restaurant if that's what they do best. We wouldn't go in there and demand a curry and complain because the waiters were not Indian, would we?

Traditional - or other - clubs are no different. They've been started, and supported, by people who like a bit of antiquity and historical depth to their music. Nothing wrong with that.

They don't book me or MrDrummer. But only one of us resents it. I wonder why.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 12:30 PM

"They'll never play me - but that's not a class-based decision. That's about money, percentages, play-list policy, audience shares and production values. Contacts help, but that's always been the case everywhere. "

spot on once again, Guest.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 12:49 PM

Actually there are two "Folk Musics". One is the music of the show business public persona of the folksinger whose concerts are attended by officianados and requires a separate bin in the record stores or online to define this type of performance.

The other is songs and music that stand the test of time that reflect a cultural background.

I don't see why the two can't coexist comfortably as long as one type of folksinger respects the output of the other.

This thread is more academic wrangling that ultimately goes nowhere because the "folk" will decide what "folk music" is and not some gray-bearded semanticist.

It doesn't matter really what you call it. The audience will decide.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 12:51 PM

When I was young, I thought that talent would be heard. If you were good enough to be recorded, you would be. If you were a good writer, you would get published. Now, I'm older and wiser. People record music to sell it. Same with books. If there is no mass market for your music or writing, no matter how brilliant you may be, no one is going to make money off of your work. Ask Van Gogh or the endless number of brilliant visual and performing artists who struggled in obscurity. The correlation between talent and commercial success is tenuous, at best. To quote my old friend Gordon Bok: "Is no "should," is just "is." Commerce and art are strange bedfellows.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 01:01 PM

I'l confess, if it makes wikipedia any happier. I tried to start a similar discussion about 4 or 5 years ago too - also using the suggestion of "New-Folk" - but no-one took me up on the invitation at that stage. Sorry Dan. Nu-folk is clearly a back-coinage from nu-metal.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 01:06 PM

I think it's useful having a separate category for traditional music, for all the reasons given by Guest above.

Traditional music is a sub-category of folk. People who want to can decide amongst themselves what "folk" means - but at least we know what we mean by the tradition, and there's no need to confuse it with, or set it up in conflict with, all the other subsections of "folk". Folk is a term that has been conveniently co-opted so many times by the media and the marketplace - every time they add another interpretation or brand, the term itelf becomes more meaningless.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 02:21 PM

Our local folk club changed its name to Acoustic Music Club which meant you could sing/play practically anything from Somewhere over the rainbow to slitty wrist stuff.
Only the electric people were left out.
However, it folded because no-one wanted to come and listen to the people singing.
Nowadays we have a weekly 'session' in the local pub and it's not run as a club but more like a 'come-all-ye'. Any type of music is tolerated but most people stay with 'folk'. And there is an electric bass!
Robyn


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 02:32 PM

Ruth - you put it so simply and so well as ever.

Folk will decide what is folk music, of course - and it can be whatever anyone likes.

But traditional has a reasonably clear, albeit conflicting, set of definitions, which are at least partly supported in common law (though not by Smooth Operations), as they should be.

We really need a debate on how to clarify the definitions of traditional in its various forms, and we need some new words too, because the current situation constantly creates legal, cultural and financial problems.

Having people confuse 'folk' and 'trad' is unnecessary and unhelpful.

I like 'New Folk' - it's is a step in the right direction. (Nu Folk is another existing sub-set and of no help here).

We can go on using the words trad and folk, but we need to take much more care to explain what we mean by each - and that needs new terms.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 03:06 PM

I have often gone to pubs where Irish music is sung to listen to the singers and drink coffee. I like the music, the melodies and the words. I tolerate some of the songs so I can enjoy the others.

I would not cross the street to hear someone singing "The Log Driver's Waltz" or "The Black Fly song" unless I knew the singer to be someone with excellent phrasing/someone from whom I could learn to improve my own skills in the craft/art. I would travel a few hundred miles to hear The Rankin Family because of their musicianship, harmonies and songs--which go all the way from rock to Irish Gaelic trad music. Fact is, I am less interested in the category than in the songs themselves and the presentation by the performers. I do not know where those who like things in categories would put Susan Aglukark. Her I'd go listen to. And The Dixie Chicks. And Bob Ryszkiewicz (a Montreal-based bluesman with great phrasing and aspects of drama in his material). But the fact is I wouldn't cross the street to hear Robert Johnson because I don't think he was all that good.

Some of the songs presented in trad performances are tired, like some of the newly-written songs by people who want to be songwriters. Trad doesn't not equal good anymore than modern equals good. Of course, the converse holds true. Unless you have done something brilliant and new with an arrangement of "Greensleeves", thanks but I don't want to hear it for time 861. This speaks only for me. I've listened to people like Louis Killen, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Richie Havens, John Lee Hooker, Lonnie Johnson, Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell, PP and M--all up close and personal. Frankly, it's the music, writing and performances I enjoyed. As for the categories, I really don't care.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 05:19 PM

If an electrical switch is involved it ain't folk singing

So we've got to sing in the dark, have we? Or maybe by candlelight.
....................................

I wouldn't cross the street to hear Robert Johnson because I don't think he was all that good.(Peace) "Because I don't like the way he sang and played" would be about personal taste, and no one can dictate that. "I don't think he was all that good" makes a claim that goes beyond that.

I think Mark Twain's comment "Wagner's Music is Better Than it Sounds" encapsulates the right attitude to take about stuff we don't personally like but which clearly possess some kind of excellence in the view of people whose views are to be respected.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 05:47 PM

These are the thoughts that sustaine me as an artist and they have come to me through years of working as a musician and artist.

they are what I understand, because they are what I have seen.

i don't know what you two have been doing. As you won't put your heads above the parapet, i can't see why you're so damn keen on insulting my views.

my views are the basis of a working attitude - yours just seem to spring from the need to insult.

the point is that public and minority radio has never been about market share and all that music industry bollocks. (and if you'd ever worked in the music industry - you'd know that's exactly what it is -just sophistry by rich guys making crap decisions).

To return to my point there has always been a sort Reithian intention about the BBC but it falls on its arse when it comes to music.

I used to gig in a country and Western band (in the 70's the Brit country and western scene was awash with talent - mainly from the Irish showband scene that was coming to an end), and I'd slip out in an interval to a rock club - from someplace where the audience had been going mad throwing their knickers in the air. you'd go across the road to a rock club that was empty, but it was the rock club that got the Peel sessions , the reviews in NME, etc.

And the reason that thecountry scene was never reviewed or written about was that it was working class.

And the same situation obtains here and now with the folkscene.

that's the way English people continue to be disenfranchised from their folk voice, by the 'tradition'.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 06:14 PM

"Trad doesn't not equal good anymore than modern equals good."

Who said it did? And, by extension, I'd like to add that trad equals good no more than modern equals bad - there are some brilliant renditions of trad songs that blend contemporary, plugged-in instruments and ar5rangements with a respect for the material - well, god bless all who sail in her. The only thing that's sacrosanct as far as I'm concerned is the preservation of the body of material itself - but if people want to come along and interpret it in new and exciting ways, so much the better.

However, it might be true that at the other end of the spectrum, the tradition, because of its history and ethos, has a different set of value judgements applied to its interpretation and performance. As this music has come from ordinary people, it's still perfectly valid for ordinary people (with not-great voices and little showmanship) to perform those songs. Traddies get this - non-traddies often don't. Reactions can vary from impatience to rudeness. I think non-traddies often see these interpretations as somehow self-indulgent ("Did they have to sing EVERY single verse? It's not as if they could even sing very well!"). In fact, this collective ownership of the traditional musical canon is part of what keeps it a living tradition. There's a trend toward a less participative experience that you can see at some festivals, where people don't come to take part in any way, but imply sit back and let the professionals entertain them. I might struggle to come up with a definition for folk, but I'm pretty sure that's not it.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 06:18 PM

WLD, the folk scene is awash with middle class people. There are plenty of working-class musicians, but the audiences are, in my experience, predominantly middle class.

I don't think your argument holds water, that's all.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 06:35 PM

Jerry Rasmussen opined:

If you don't make any money singing it, it's folk music...

Or maybe you're just a bad commercial musician?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 06:56 PM

Again, Ruth - bang on the nail.

There are two values to be respected in a tradtional work. 1) How it presents as a tune or song today, and that's partly about how well you can adapt and develop it for a modern audience (this is the value that most people understand), and 2) what we can learn from it (which is what some forget).

You only have a right to adapt and present another writer's work (even if it's now in the public domain) for value 1) if you also respect value 2) - so that others can still go back and do more research later.

Beacause it's not yours. It's everyone's.

It's like archeology.

Artifacts are no good in the ground. You need to dig them up and stick them in a museum or make a TV programme out them - and use all sorts of modern interpretive material to make them interesting to people.

BUT, oh but but but, when you do so, you MUST record how they lay, because someone else, later, may be able to interpret valuable information from that seemingly insignificant data.

That's all I'm saying.

Do what you like to a song, but try to do it well.

Try to learn as you go along - you'll be the one to benefit.

And always, ALWAYS say where you got a song from.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:05 PM

...which is the reason I hope to acquire the whole of the Voice of the People series this year.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:06 PM

I have worked in the the music industry, Drummer. I've been signed to a major label. I'm a full time pro folkie - and my philosphy has been developed over 30 years of writing and performing many kinds of music, including trad.

I don't like to engage with your point of view, but I believe that what you say is both shallow and dangerous for the future of folk music.

Yes the BBC falls short, and it's a scandal - but suggesting that this is for class reasons is just stupid. And trying to dismiss the tradition because you can't get gigs in some clubs is just, well, words fail me.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:12 PM

WLD, I programme a venue and a festival. I wasn't deliberately hiding behind a parapet - I'm so gobby I jsut assume everyone knows who i am.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:27 PM

Drummer,Jack Hudson's class has nothing to do with his lack of commercial success. There are a million and one reasons why minority music does not break through. Class isn't one of them. Jack is more country than anything else, excellent, yes, but not country like American country. You need to be brash,plasticsurgeonised,beautiful, young, and sing crap lyrics to succeed in that field. Jack isn't any of these. So he falls between the cracks in English culture.
As to the Trad/ New arguement it's been going on for as long as I've been in the folk world (over 40 years). Personally, the trad music scene is a nice museum for a day out to me. Lots to see, hear and learn from. But those who don't learn from history are set to repeat it, and I don't go much for sterile repetition.
I visit the museum with pleasure, but then I like to leave it and take the air and find what the world of today has to offer that did learn from the past.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 07:52 PM

1. Oh dear.

2. WLD, WTF has country to do with the UK? Did your favourite range pony get consumption and your yaller hound get TB? Do you suckle orphaned dogies whose mothers got git by coyotes? Do you drive a Great Lakes Special? DO you even know what one is?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 08:07 PM

Your point?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 08:13 PM

dEAR jEST, try reading. If that is beyond you, try hemlock.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 08:16 PM

As you so kindly pointed out in the first post you are a pedant.
I think I'll take another walk outside in the fresh air. Enjoy your cell.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 08:54 PM

Well, GUEST, it would be nice if you'd use a name if you'd like to post here regularly - and it appears you've posted here a lot. We tolerate anonymous posts in the Music section, but only if the tone is non-combative - and the idea is that anonymous posting is for occasional visitors, not regulars.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 09:53 PM

Back in 1998 or '99 I jumped into these conversations readily and ad infinitum-- or so it seemed to me. I must have posted to 500 quite similar threads------maybe more. So I guess my views are already here at Mudcat for anyone to find and read if they want to.

Thanks for all your good insights whenever these threads come back. I just read this thread through, and I'm left with no energy to post anything new here. That energy drain is a big part of my life now.

Just one quick point:   These issues have all been settled for good some months or years back along the time line---until a well-meaning person came along -- one who had never got thefinal word -- And---the definitions changed!! Again!!

From where I am tonight, it just ain't worth the sweat!

Art


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 09:56 PM

Joe, that GUEST you are piqued at was not me! Seems we just cross posted.

Hope you are well!!

Art
    Yes, I know it's not you, Art - but it's another person who's nice to have around, but who sounds slightly ominous without a name.
    -Joe-


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 11:50 PM

"WLD, I programme a venue and a festival. I wasn't deliberately hiding behind a parapet - I'm so gobby I jsut assume everyone knows who i am. "

So, who are you?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 11:58 PM

'I wouldn't cross the street to hear Robert Johnson because I don't think he was all that good.(Peace) "Because I don't like the way he sang and played" would be about personal taste, and no one can dictate that. "I don't think he was all that good" makes a claim that goes beyond that.'

Stop being so damned pedantic. Like who you want to like. I'll do the same. Claim that goes beyond? Jaysus. I don't think he's all that good. You may think he's fantastic. That is fine by me. I don't ask that you not like him. I have NO wish to control what you do or don't like, regardless of how you say it.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 03:33 AM

Peace, if you look back through my posts, it won't take you long to find out.

I was accused recently by another (even more gobby) member of ruthless self-promotion. So I feel a bit self-conscious about chucking my name and my job all over threads right now.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:14 AM

Strangely enough the country music scene with working class people in it, could see the connection with folk music. But the middle class folkscene could never see the connection - mainly cos it was middle class class folk protecting their various fifedoms, subsidies, etc.

Peggy Seegers song for example about about a wife telling her kids her man was away in England working on repairing the motorways, had extra resonances for Irish families and it was a country hit - very popular amongst Irish lady country singers in that period.

In England, of course it was okay to sneer at Peggy - she was American.

As Tony Capstick famously remarked, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger - they say every man carries his own cross round with him.

I just see a lot of middle class sneering. Most of it ignorant , uninformed by experience.

You think my thoughts are dangerous for the future of folk music, Mr Guest. Creative thought is never dangerous.

Of course the hammer blow against the English country music scene was another one of Margaret Thatcher achievements for the economy. The professional country music scene was dependent on on the Miners welfares - once the mines had gone, that was it.

What is it Hamish Imlach sang in the Men of Knoydart - we know our enemies by now, and Mister - you are one!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:45 AM

By and large I am as vehement a critic of that bitch Thatcher as anyone, but it's nice to know she did something useful. The appearance of country music as a a popular phenomenon both here and in Ireland is another demonstration of American cultural imperialism, and while country can at a stretch be categorised as an extension of the folk experience of the USA, it is a cuckoo in the nest of the music of other countries just as damaging to indigenous phenomena as the export of "christian" values by the British empire.

That doesn't mean that it cannot form part of the extended mass that I am hoping to name in this thread, and it doesn't mean that it is without musical merit (although I pretty universally hate it with the possible exception of a couple of Bonnie Raitt performances, but that is a matter of preference not definition, and gainsaid by the fact that I occasionally do sing "Love has no pride").

The idea that creative thought can never be dangerous cannot possible withstand a moment's consideration, and surely the unreasoned first paragraph of WLD's makes it clear that what he addresses are his inner demons and not any wider truth. The romantic idea of a working class revolution and the ascendancy of a working class culture is surely unnecessary in a country that can adopt Thicks Beckham as a hero and call Mrs Beckham "Posh". That country has thereby been proved to have been conquered by working class culture. No revolution or railing against middle class feifdoms (surely a contradiction in terms) is necessary. The sadness of that is that the Fabian idea of self improvement has been lost and replaced by (nice phrase here borrowed from another poster, I don't know if it's original) a "prolier than thou" slumcult.

What, IMHO led to much criticism of Seeger was that she as an American should dare to pontificate on the folk music of England, and even how it "should" be performed - an act of colonial imperialism: that and the fact that if you listem to some Ewan MacColl recordings they are (as, I daresay, his live performances were) gravely harmed by some out of time and out of tune banjo plunking, and I say that as someone who is no great fan of MacColl's own performance or indeed his own betrayal of his own origins by his re-invention of himself, a lad from the outskirts of Salford, as Jock McTavish the cartoon Scotsman. He wrote some good songs though - even though by definition they are not folk, and that is another reason we need a name for the body of material of which they form part. I am a great fan of his politics, and his military career, but that is a different story.

Bah. I did not have that half hour to waste.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:48 AM

There's more than one GUEST on this thread Joe. I'm the less gobby one who wrote the longer, more reasoned posts. I'd prefer to use my name, but as almost no-one else does, and because I'm well-known and risk alienating at least some potential bookers with my views, I don't see why I should. But I do believe passionately that this isssue needs debate, and that views like Drummer's should be challenged. We are living in pivotal times for folk music - though few recognise it. Clubs have a couple of decades left. We need to get our house in order - even if only to write a clear will.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:53 AM

yes and get the plebs out! A world fit for strangulated moaning, crap songs that should have stayed in the museum and dance music nobody dances to..... Richard - YOU are the imperialist, and a bloody arrogant one at that.

PS Don't worry Art, its just a few Brits having fun doing what Brits do best - be obnoxious!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Sparticus
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 05:31 AM

I'm with weelittledrummer here. While I find the majority in the "folk" scene welcoming, the strings are definately pulled by individuals who have cornered the market, as it were, when it comes to handing out the favours.
What motivates their decisions is probably governed by supply and demand and/or the ability to get bums on seats. If I was being really paranoid I would say that certain artists are "pushed" because they are seen by these same manipulators as being the best bet in terms of either financial return or, possibly, the bearers of the torch ie safe hands to continue the tradition.
Whichever way you look at it many excellent artists are overlooked during this selection process and this causes resentment.

To me there's two categories in this world we call folk:

Fundamental Folk - in the hands of the ultra traditionalists

and New Folk - embraced by artists more interested in what's happening in the world today and tolerated by borderline traditionalists.

They both have their place and should be allowed to live side by side.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 05:34 AM

"That country has thereby been proved to have been conquered by working class culture...The sadness of that is that the Fabian idea of self improvement has been lost..." - I couldn't agree more, Richard.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 05:44 AM

"While I find the majority in the "folk" scene welcoming, the strings are definately pulled by individuals who have cornered the market, as it were, when it comes to handing out the favours."

And as soon as you acknowledge that folk is working as part of a wider industry, surely this should come as no surprise? But the great thing about folk is that not getting a headline slot at a festival doesn't stop you getting your music out where people can hear it - hence the folk clubs, singarounds, and even the smaller, more participative festivals.

If you're after airplay and big stages, you become part of an industry that has quite specific parameters - even if it's a cottage industry like folk. I get CDs almost every day - a lot of people doing what they do very well indeed. Unfortunately, there aren't enough "favours" for every talented person out there - there are simply more people wanting to make their living by playing folk and acoustic music than there are opportunities to accomodate them. So these people who are "pulling the strings" have to make tough choices sometimes.

Certain artists may well be "pushed" by the "manipulators". but consider this: If I have a big name headliner at my festival, the tickets that their name sells will allow me to book another 10 up-and-coming, talented artists whom most of the audience will not have heard of.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 05:53 AM

"Fabian idea of self improvement"

Is this a Britthread, or what? All I know about Fabian is that he was a lousy singer and Elvis spin off who also couldn't act.

Where's the self improvement, there?

Next thing you know you'll be talking about the artistic depth of Annette Funicello..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 06:15 AM

For Jerry and others you can find out more about the Fabians

here

and here

A Google search will bring up many more links


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 07:19 AM

A few thoughts for Weelittledrummer (and possibly some others hereabouts).

Folks – I think you may be confusing two different things here – namely, a club and a venue.

A venue is an enclosed space, where paying customers are offered entertainment (in this case, musical).   A club is a community of people who gather together occasionally because they share a particular interest (in this case, a musical one). Many musical clubs hire a venue to meet in, but by no means all venues are clubs.

Professional musicians (and those who aspire to become such) need to persuade the managers of venues that they can attract audiences big enough to turn a reasonable profit.   Alternatively, they are free to hire a venue for an evening, and take the profit, or the loss, themselves. Unfortunately, the supply of affordable venues remains limited, while the number of aspiring performers keeps on increasing.

An alternative strategy is to join an existing musical club, present your material to its members, and hope they like it. If this succeeds, well and good. But if a majority of that club's members remain devoted to their kind of music, and lukewarm towards yours, that is their democratic right.   You need to look for a more sympathetic club, or start a new one yourself. Retreating into paranoia may be an emotionally satisfying response, but it is not a good career move.

The conspiracy theorists do have a point, however, when they move into the territory of the state-subsidised arts. By which I mean everything from the BBC and the Royal Opera House to Little Piddlington-on-the-Wold Arts Centre, or Grosschester University Students' Union.) In such institutions, individuals can exploit their position to promote artists (or whole genres of music) for which there is relatively little demand, while ignoring others which are more popular with the general public. But there are ways of changing this. They range from writing letters to the management (or the media, or your elected representative), to simply taking your custom elsewhere.

I don't think all this has a lot to do with the various labels that people choose to stick on different kinds of music. Complaints about limited access to venues, and insufficient attention from the media are commonplace in other areas beyond the little world of folk and traditional music.

But if some musicians or listeners wish to convert what should be a pleasurable experience into a form of tribal warfare, they can include me out. Life is too short for this kind of nonsense - get on with playing, singing and listening whatever type of music you enjoy, and leave your neighbours to do likewise.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 07:51 AM

"In such institutions, individuals can exploit their position to promote artists (or whole genres of music) for which there is relatively little demand, while ignoring others which are more popular with the general public."

I'm not sure where the conspiracy is...if we didn't do that, what do you think the ratio of folk would be that gets a look-in at our venues? Or jazz? Or other minority music genres? Or more challenging theatre?

If state-subsidised venues weren't trying to redress the balance and were programming purely on populist lines, it wouldn't even be the more popular folk artists we'd fill our brochures with. It'd be Jethro, Ken Dodd, Chubby Brown, and tribute bands. Oh, and touring musicals. I could pack my venue every night with a programme like that. Happily, though, our objectives extend beyond bums on seats.

It's the sucess of the populist stuff, by the way, that lets us then look around and say, "Okay, I can now afford to take a few risks. Let's see which interesting folk/jazz/roots/blues bands are around that I might be able to get away with."

With the best will in the world, small to mid-scale gigs hardly pay for themselves, by the time you factor in staffing and additional costs like PA. But we do them because it's important to be presenting a diversity of cultural product, and to be giving opportunities to artists whose profile would benefit from a date at a venue like ours.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 08:29 AM

all very well, but why do we find some of you rejoicing in the loss of work for professional musicians, when the miners welfares closed.

Folk musicians, I might add. Paul Downes and Phil beer had played on about 80 country albums for labels likw westwood and tank - road albums for gigging artists - and they probably went on to do half as many again.

The country music scene was as valid a form of expression for the mining communities as Tommy Armstrongs ballads, or the brass bands, or concertina bands. Merle travis's dark as a Dungeon was known by virtually all English miners.   Also the redneck anthems seemed to strike a note with communities of people - that knew they would never be your first choice quaff reall ale with, and sing Byker Hill to Bartok style rhythms.

we're not talking about gutter entertainment here, we're talking about a cultural phenomena that you lot said bollocks to, cos it didn't fit in the boxed set of Martin Carthy's three million forgettable ditties.

PS Art, you're a Chicago lad, surely your Irish pals warned you about the obnoxious Brits.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 08:38 AM

Hi Ruth,

In principle, I'm with you all the way on this one - but it's vital to get the balance right. Of course the managers of venues (whether subsidised or free-market) should introduce audiences to unfamiliar and challenging experiences, rather than just "giving the public what it wants". (Which actually means giving the public what it wanted the day before yesterday - a sure recipe for stagnation and sterility.)

But it's dangerous to get too far ahead of your public. When I started teaching many years ago, the most useful advice I ever got from a senior colleague was this: "Wherever you want them to get to, you have to start from where they are." I think this tip is applicable in the performing arts, as well as in education.

Furthermore, if some artists (or genres) seem to be getting a disproportionate amount of space on the programme, then performers (or punters) who think that they (or their favourite artists)are being unjustly ignored will be likely to cry "foul". And although such claims are often completely unjustified, there have been a few occasions in the past where a certain amount of mutual back-scratching and favour-exchanging between interested parties has gone on behind the scenes. (Not anybody we know, of course!)

But anyhow, keep up the good work ...

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 08:46 AM

WLD,

Not being a miner, or coming from a mining background, I had no idea that the forms of entertainment that you refer to even existed - so I couldn't have said "bollocks" to them - even if I'd wanted to, could I?
Nothing that you have written has convinced me that my interest in traditional music is anything but just that - an interest, like any other. Nor do I believe that traditional music and its enthusiasts are in any way guilty of the monstrous cultural crimes that you regularly accuse them of. Methinks thou dost protest too much!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:15 AM

Sorry Joe. Like another poster above I sometimes have to preserve anonymity. If I gave offence it was ony because of Richard Bridge's way over the top reply to my post and his request that I commit suicide!
I promise to behave better in future!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:17 AM

WLD, I'm programming in 2007 - not 1987. I never said bollocks to anybody.

Mike: couldn't agree more. But even if I were programming events 365 days a year (which, because of staffing resources and other demands on the building, I can't), I still wouldn't be able to please everybody. So, like many venues, we've tried to keep a variety of programming areas and events, while focusing more strongly on a few areas that we're really good at and which we were able to demonstrate an audience demand for. Those are children's theatre, comedy - and now folk.

But in all of our programming, audience development is very much about starting from where the audience is and then gradually moving forward. Otherwise, they simply won't come with you.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:22 AM

I should clarify. Miners' welfares as such - excellent. I'm a vehement defender of Arthur Scargill, and it was most regrettable that he got outmanoeuvred by the capitalists. The welfares' function in marketing an invasive "art" form - undesirable.

The musicians who played there were not owed a living.

The idea however that if music is popular with the proletariat that makes it folk music is quite simply indefensible. It is also most curious that I started this thread with the idea of formulating a name for an inclusory range of music, so that the expression "Folk Music" was not unnecessarily corrupted in meaning, and could be used as a definition without assumptions of implications of superiority, yet the thread has been taken over by a one-man diatribe against the ruling classes, and an outpost of a class war that is hardly at all carried on elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:50 AM

"From: GUEST,Shimrod - PM
Date: 17 Mar 07 - 04:49 AM


Snip> "I would strive NOT to make such a policy too restrictive (eg. a policy which requires only unaccompanied singing is patently absurd!)."
Not at all absurd, Shimrod. Any common interest group who choose to come together for the satisfaction of that interest have, quite correctly, the right to include, or exclude, whomever they wish.

A club without some policy of operation is, by definition, inefficient, and IMHO unlikely to flourish. "Too restrictive" in this context is meaningless, unless the restriction in practise prevents the club from performing as needed. So a group of a capella singers might very reasonably exclude musicians on the basis that none are required for their particular style of performance.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:55 AM

"There's more than one GUEST on this thread Joe. "

No, there isn't. At least not so anyone can tell. Joe isn't talking about using YOUR name, just ANY name you can spell. Otherwise, people might confuse you with a coward who'd be shamed to look them in the eye after what he's said, named. At the very least, not typing in a name distracts from the topic, and may inspire a fight which you did not pick. That's all I really had to say, so I'll cease. Peace, out - I'm going away.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 10:28 AM

I echo what Jeri said...if you MUST not use your name, be "Rumplestiltskin" for the purpose of this discussion...or any consistent pseudonym.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM

well, I have had a lot of amusement,thanks very much,.
But no Jim Carroll,I hope he is o k.
In answer to your question, what is it we do,we enjoy life.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 03:02 PM

"Not at all absurd, Shimrod. Any common interest group who choose to come together for the satisfaction of that interest have, quite correctly, the right to include, or exclude, whomever they wish."

Oh dear, have I been caught on the wrong side of the fence!

Actually, I think it's absurd, Don because although singing accompanied is rare in the British tradition it's not unknown and it certainly exists in other traditions (including various American ones). I also think that skilful and appropriate accompaniment can add an extra and exciting dimension to a performance and to deliberately exclude it would mean missing out.
Although I definitely think that any worthwhile club should have some sort of policy I think that this policy should be designed in a way which encourages people to develop their performance skills within a defined framework but does not stifle innovation and is not primarily designed to exclude people. This is probably more or less impossible to achieve - but you must admit that it's a worthwhile aspiration (?).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 03:16 PM

The use of the term "tradition" is a slippery-slope. Whose? Jazz has a tradition. So-called classical or art song has a tradition. There are "traditions" and what is trad to a British folk audience may not qualify in other musical areas.

The term "new folk" is oxymoronic in my opinion. Folk to me represents some mass acceptance by a group of people (sub-culture) and can't be manufactured over night.
The songs that people write today in a "folk-style" can be called "new folk" but there is a meaninglessness in the term. "Folk-style" overlaps other styles such as jazz, so-called "country" and "pop music". It becomes a mish-mash. Stephen Sondheim calls it a "piss-tache".

When we get into these discussions, it becomes clear that the definitions are not.

The solution in my view may be that we focus on the artist rather than the material. The material will always be subject to the interpretation of the artist. Each song changes with each performance. Without the vision of the performer, the song has no meaning in and of itself. Even when rendered by a non-professional, it comes to life in a unique way.

I think that one of the most interesting aspects of performing material that is called "folk" is its history. It tells us how the people of past times felt. It's really hard to be convincing historically when writing a "new" song. Some "folk-style" songwriters can sort of pull it off. I think of Jean Ritchie or Woody Guthrie as examples. Ewan would fit into this as well.
Stan Rogers from Canada also. Utah Phillips. Si Kahn.

Still, a song to be durable and sung by the nebulous "folk" would have to be made available through individual performers bringing the song to life. Now, some songs are more accessible and universal in this way.

I don't share the conviction that the music we like has to be rigidly confined to a label.
Go for the song, the performer, the music and leave the hair-splitting to the academic grey-beards that thrive on that kind of thing.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 03:16 PM

Ruth Archer,you are contradicting yourself.
you agree to book a HEADLINER because of their hype and their ability to put bums on seats,and then say this enables you to book another 10 up and coming performers,but unless these 10 up and coming performers,play commercial folk music,and have the right image,and are promoted correctly,they wont succeed.
Whatever happened to judging people on merit,what you are doing is promoting pop folk music,[that may be ok if it takes people further to listen to source singers or revivalists like Carthy,Rose Jones Lloyd]
but dont kid anyone,that you are giving them a break,because the folk world has now become like the pop world, people are not judged on merit but on how well they are promoted,witness the drivel; about Kate Rusbys using double drop d guitar tuning,people were using this and other tunings before she was born.but idiots on this forum call it Kate Rusbys tuning,as if she invented it.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:06 PM

Dick, I programmed a diversity of local and up-and-coming artists alongside big names. They represented a whole range of folk styles, from very traditional musicians to singer/songwriters. People who wouldn't have paid to see artists they've never heard of still got to hear those artists because of the bill they were on, and may go on to buy their CDs and support their careers in future.

But I guess I'm promoting pop folk music if that's what you're telling me I'm doing.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 04:52 PM

I'm not going to get dragged into the discussion on trad vs new etc, but I do slightly wonder if there's a bit of hypocrisy here. Someone objected to hearing american folk in England, yet I hear Irish and Scottish, (even the odd bit of Breton) folk in England quite often and few people seem to object. If you object to these as well, then I would understand. And don't go justifying by talking about cultural interchange cos that has happened and no doubt could continue to happen with America as well.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 05:52 PM

Ruth, it sounds like you are doing something worthwhile ,well done,


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 05:53 PM

"I don't share the conviction that the music we like has to be rigidly confined to a label."

That is the issue. What name might we use to encompass the music that we like, to avoid the divisiveness of accurate use of other terms?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 06:01 PM

I think you may have missed my point Shimrod. I deliberately chose "a capella" as an example of an interest which would logically not be suitable for instrumental musicians. I don't recall using the word traditional, and on re-reading my post can confirm that I did not. You are of course correct in your comments about accompaniment in just about everthing other than a capella.

As an entertainer who writes much of his own material, some after the traditional style, some in the Music Hall style, and some contemporary, I would certainly not fall into the category of music fundamentalist.

I just happen to believe that the organisers of any club should determine what exactly they will accept, and if their ideas conflict with mine, I wish them well, and go elsewhere.

As to the title of the thread "It isn't Folk, but what is it that I do?"...........Hopefully, I entertain a significant proportion of those who hear me, and I am fortunate enough to have moderate success in "Folk" venues, so maybe, after a fashion, it is Folk.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 07:01 PM

I think Jerry Rasmussen has it absolutely right somewhere further up the thread about our attitudes in Britain. To put it crudely, we are too much up our collective backsides about the whole thing.

Some people seem to get hung up about the definitions and peddle out the (in)famous 1954 definition. I have no quibble about that definition but it should be recognised for what it is, an academic definition. A definition that is useful for folklorists who make an academic study of traditional music.

What it does not in any way reflect is what actually gets played and sung in folk clubs or on the concert stage. In that sense it is a very restrictive definition.

I believe folk music has at its heart the canon of traditional songs and tunes but can also include more recent compositions that are informed by the tradition. That, of course leaves the edges blurry, which makes some very unhappy, but there does seem to be a broad consensus as to what is appropriate to sing in a folk club or what one might expect at a folk concert.

To go back to Richard's original question, I am quite happy that the term "folk music" can be applied to a broader range of songs than just the traditional canon and I don't think we need a new term. It just needs folk to lighten up a bit and not to get hung up and nit picky. Think of the newer songs as modern equivalents of broadside ballads.

Just to anticipate those who use the "take it to the limit" technique of putting down an argument I am not saying anything goes. On the whole, if you sing, say "Dirty Old Town" in a folk club no one will complain, but they might look askance if you sang "Eleanor Rigby" even though both are excellent songs.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 18 Mar 07 - 09:56 PM

"Ruth, it sounds like you are doing something worthwhile ,well done,"

Ta, Dick. But you'll find that most small to mid-scale festival programmers are doing the exact same thing. There's this perception in some corners that all people programming folk care about is the big names and bums on seats. Well,we do have to make things work financially, but I'd like to think that we also care about artist development and the health of the sector.

Some festivals do a hell of a lot more than I do, because they have the capacity to do so - they'll programme a whole stage of local and up-and-coming artists. That kind of thing is incredibly valuable to those artists' careers.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: nutty
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 05:56 AM

I don't think 'folk' has anything to do with the words we sing or the music we play. For me it's far more about the way we communicate with each other - which is generally on a highly personal basis that doeS not rely on special effects or mic enhancements. But comes from the heart in such a simple form that is very easy for others to emulate or aspire to.

Of course, folk has its super stars but promoters need them to fill venues but there is just as much quality music found (certainly here in the UK) in the local folk club or festival.

Folk is about respect for the song, the songwriter and the music and the musician.

It's about being part of an extended family in a much more personal way than being a member of a fan club.

I have a friend who is a Beatles fan, she goes to all the conventions yet worships from afar. After 40 years her dearest wish is still to meet one of them.
My heroes are real - I've met them - talked to them and am fortunate to count some as my friends.

THATS WHAT PUTS THE 'FOLK' INTO FOLK MUSIC.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Grab
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 09:27 AM

What name might we use to encompass the music that we like, to avoid the divisiveness of accurate use of other terms?

I'm with Little Robyn. The problem seems to me to be that some lovers of traditional folk music want to say "what we do is folk, therefore what you do isn't, regardless of what you call it". Even Richard's first post on the thread fell into this trap.

Think of it another way. 100 years ago, what was considered "traditional"? Kipling's verses put to music certainly wouldn't have been - some of them would only just have been published, and even "Mandalay" had only been around for 17 years. But you could go to any folk club you liked today, no matter how restrictive their limits on what you played, and your choice would be soundly approved of as being in the tradition.

So how's about calling the two groups of material "traditional folk" and "new folk" (or "modern folk" or whatever)? Then see that given a little time, songs in the latter category may be added to the former category if they've stood the test of time. "Modern folk" doesn't just mean your whiny 17-year-old singer-songwriter or rocked-up groups like Show of Hands; it also covers highly-respected artists who write/wrote within the tradition, like Cyril Tawny, Eric Bogle and Dick Gaughan.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 10:01 AM

"Contemporary folk" and "traditional folk" worked well enough for decades and I don't see the reason to change them now; if it ain't broken and all that. Definitions are too limiting, and do not allow the "thing defined" to evolve. They are also unnecessary at best and can be abused at worst. No, rather than defining folk music of whatever flavour, I prefer to simply describe it periphrastically, based on the impact it has, not on the instruments or the chords or modes it uses.

As for the relationship between folk and the class system, that is a 20th century forcibly enforced connection as far as I am aware, and has no real meaning. Else you wouldn't get the miners' songs next to the Babes in the Wood, next to the hunting songs, next to the Banks of the Nile, all in one genre. Yes, some British folk songs specifically have class importance, but others don't; and other countries' folk songs are (understandably) totally oblivious to the class system.

What is important for all folk songs and music is that they should have relevance to the period in which (note: not "about which") they were written, social relevance in particular. That is why in a folk song lyrics are important, whereas in a pop song they are incidental.

And of course, folk songs/music should be accessible and easily replicated by ordinary people (to whatever standard of excellence is immaterial), so they would have sparse arrangements, even the contemporary ones. That is why "Bohemian Rhapsody" could never be a folk song - too elaborate, even though it caught people's imagination - while Gerry Rafferty was writing effectively contemporary folk hits in the same period.

This insistence on defining "folk" seems to me to be a peculiarly British thing. I certainly haven't come across it in other countries' folk music, including my own home country. There, people don't bother to define "folk" (Laiko, i.e. "of the people") song. When a new one comes across, they just recognise it instantly for what it is, even if it employs totally contemporary arrangements and instrumentation. And so folk grows, and adapts, and adopts, and evolves, and assimilates, and retains its relevance. And still, people will recognise a traditional song or tune for what it is, mostly because of the time-displaced relevance, even if given a contemporary treatment. And yes, there are people who prefer the traditional folk over contemporary, or vice versa, and nobody tries to put down the other.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 10:44 AM

In reading George's recent post, it struck a note with me (staying musical here.) These last couple of weeks, I've been compiling some of my favorite tracks of African music (mostly South African, because that happens to be what I enjoy most.) In putting together the compilations, the thought never occurred to me to try and label each song as folk, traditional, new folk, or contemporary. Some of the songs are certainly "folk, in the traditional sense. Some are based on traditional songs, done in a more contemporary way. Ladysmith Black Mombazo might seem to be "folk" or traditional, and yet their style has evolved considerably from older styles. There is an exciting vitality to the music that shows very little regard for labeling.

When I am performing, I don't say before each song, "This is a folk song," and then, "This is not a folk song, but it has a traditional feel to it," "This is a song I wrote, so it's not a folk song.." I will talk a little about where the songs come from, because I want to give credit where credit is due. But, questioning the authenticity of each song as to whether it is or is not a folk song would have the same effect on me as a centipede would have if they started concetrating on the movement of each leg. I'd fall flat on my face. If I want to toss in Blue Monday, from Fats Domino, right after Three Nights Drunk, or Blues In The Bottle, that would seem perfectly natural. Give each song it's propers.

I never believed in "Separate But Equal." It never works.

The vitality in African music comes from the freedom of rejoicing in the music for what it is, and making it personal to the singer. (That's very traditional, by the way...)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,M.Ted
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 02:18 PM

I think that it is important to remember that "the tradition" does not exist. There are lots of traditions, some vital and growing, some dying or dead. Traditions tend to be the provenance of subgroups, be they ethnic, cultural, or trade-Cowboy songs, Miner Songs, Lumberman songs, Wedding songs, Slavic Songs, Slave songs, Mountain Ballads, Sea Chanteys--you get the idea--

Some of this material has been collected and presented in such a way that it can be appreciated by a mostly middle class audience, but that audience experiences in a way that is different from the culture of origin--


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 06:34 PM

The problem with the "horse" approach to the term (which is what most of the recent posters to this thread are adopting with varying degrees of elegance) is that there is then no term left to distinguish the materials that genuinely were transmitted and modified by the oral tradition - and so were conceptually different from chanson.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 06:57 AM

Hi Richard,

Here is part of my attempt to address the problems raised by the "horse" definition, which you mentioned in your latest post. For the full version, see the article in Living Tradition Magazine, May-June 2006.

"Suppose that instead of beginning with yet another attempt to categorise the songs, or the singers, we start from the actual experience of singing.   Consider what happens when an informal gathering of people, most of them well acquainted with each other, launch into a song that most of them have known for some time. This activity has been going on in private homes and public houses for centuries.   We find vivid descriptions of it in the reminiscences of authors like Flora Thompson, Bob Copper, and Richard Hoggart. And we have recordings of it from pubs in Sussex, Suffolk, Yorkshire, and various other locations.   

The activity itself is traditional, in one sense. But if many of the songs being sung are of recent origin and known authorship, it could be misleading to describe it as "traditional singing".   There are some possible alternatives.   "Vernacular singing" is technically accurate, but sounds a bit too pompous. "Community singing" is nearer the mark, but carries some awkward historical baggage along with it. So why not bite on the bullet and call it "folk singing"?

This trail can lead us towards a more helpful definition of folk song. Suppose that we reserve the T-word for songs of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission. And suppose that we then apply the F-word to songs - whatever their origin - that the people of a specific community sing regularly, and acknowledge as their own. If we do, there are simple tests which can identify one of these songs.

Can most members of the host community recognise the opening bars of the tune immediately?   Do most of them know the words of the chorus and at least some of the verses?    Are many of them unable to remember when they learnt it, but sure they've known it a long time?   And do most of them assume this song belongs to their community?

"Blaydon Races" was composed by George Ridley in 1862, so it can't be traditional in the strict sense. But since generations of Tynesiders have claimed it as their collective property, it seems petty and pedantic to deny it the status of a folk song."

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: deadfrett
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 07:51 AM

Some bright whiz in the recording industry came up with the term "Americana". Gotta put a label on the bin at Walmart. If you don't know who or what you are, two aisles over in the business supply section, they have labeling guns. Go help yourself.
Buddy Emmons, the Worlds Greatest Pedal steel guitar player,is on countless Jazz, Country-western, Rock and "folk" albums. I'm of the opinion that he could care less what it's called. It's GOOD MUSIC.
Cheers Dave


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 08:46 AM

Richard Bridge wrote;

The problem with the "horse" approach to the term (which is what most of the recent posters to this thread are adopting with varying degrees of elegance) is that there is then no term left to distinguish the materials that genuinely were transmitted and modified by the oral tradition

No Richard. What people are suggesting is that the term "folk music" is broader than just the traditional canon. And, for the traditional canon, what is wrong with simply calling it ... er - "traditional"


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 08:50 AM

Folk-extra (with the slightly sinful idea of "fecundatio ab extra" about which matrimonial lawyers will tell you)
Post-folk
Additional (as distinct from "traditional", geddit?)
Contemporary Folk
Modern folk
Authored folk
Written folk
Uncollected folk
Neo-folk (I quite like that idea, combining the thoughts of "newness" as "nearness"
Fauxk or Faux-folk (pronounced fo-folk, like faux-fur)
Hybrid folk
Mongrel folk
Half-folk
Bastard folk
Natural folk
Extended folk
Broad folk
Focoustic
Cuckoo-folk
Step-folk


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,pliver
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 08:54 AM

Richard, how about Shit Folk?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Sparticus
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 08:54 AM

Knife and folk.....For stabbing each other in the back with???


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Nick
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 09:19 AM

Jerry (somewhat off topic but...)

Your post reminded me of a visit I had to Thirsk Folk Club in North Yorkshire a couple of years ago.

The Black Umfolosi band were staying in the hotel the club meets in as they were doing various concerts and schools workshops in the area.

They very nicely came down and joined us and sang some of their songs, listened to the songs we sang and I seem to remember had a go at joining in on an unaccompanied sea shanty I did which was rather fun. Very entertaining evening.

I'm afraid I'm with Duke Ellington - 'There's only two types of music - good music and bad music - and I like both of them'


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Black Hawk
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 11:10 AM

Does no-one on this board sing a song because they like the song? Does it have to have years of being sung in back-street pubs before it is acceptable?

I listen to any music, anywhere & if I like a song I will try & identify the author & singer & learn it.

If I cannot identify the author/singer I will still learn & sing the song because I like it & want to share it with others.

Sometimes when I have sung an unidentified song, someone afterwards has said 'Thats by ........." & I have learned something which may lead me to other works by the same author/singer. If I only went on categories I would miss out on a lot of enjoyable music.

If I like it, I like it & don't see why I should label it to make it acceptable.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM

The lines between "folk music" and "folk-styled music" are becoming blurred as time moves on.

Woody's "This Land Is Your Land" is known by school children throughout the world. New words are being written to it. Would anyone in their right mind not refer to this as a folk song?

As to the tradition, stuff, one person's tradition is another's prison.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 11:42 AM

Hey, Nick:

Your story reminded me very much of a Mudcat story. Three years ago, when the Shellbacks come to this country, Ruth and I invited several of the members to our house, here in Derby, Connecticut. ColK, Leadfingers, Suzzex Carole (now formerly of Sussex), Noreen and Theresa were here for a memorable Halloween, and then even more memorably, for a sing around with the Gospel Messengers the next day. Karen Kobela was here, too, and we sat around and swapped sea chanties and old black gospel quartet music. It was a real kick, singing along together, and hearing Colin doubling up on the bass parts with our bass, Joe Evans, on the black gospel stuff.

Thank God no one thought to ask whether everything we sang was folk music...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Nick
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 12:53 PM

Since I have been involved in folk(?) music and have been involved in the running of a folk(?) singaround, I have only twice (well perhaps three times but the third one was a quite strange person) come across people who have felt it their duty to tell me/us that we are doing everything wrong - singing the wrong songs / playing the wrong instruments / etc etc and in each case it was from a folk fundamentalist.

In each case they feel it important to push this message down the throats of the people who were there in a (forlorn) attempt to convert us to their doxy.

Why do they feel this need?

Might it not perhaps be better to rename what these fundamentalists do to something else rather than bothering renaming folk music which I have enjoyed (as I've understood it) over the past 40 odd years in all it's wide and wonderful forms so that I know what I am going to.

What about "Narrowfolk" as a description?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Nick
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 12:55 PM

Or "Folkblinkers"?

"Tunnelfolkers"?

Time to go...


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 12:59 PM

Has nobody (recent) got the point?

"Folk" does not mean "good". It does however refer to music having certain definable (with difficulty) attributes. It is precisely to avoid excluding music that is not "folk" from what we do that a correct nomenclature is needed.

Reggae is not a waltz, and klezmer music is not played by the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band.

Apart from those who are determinedly of recto-cranial insertion, it is understood that the expresion "folk" of a type of music has meaning, and amongst those who bother to think there is not a huge difference about the core of that meaning - although the fringes are another question.

So let's formulate a name for the other stuff. It is unnecssary and frankly obfuscatory to take an existing term and seek to corrupt its meaning, and of no value to do so out of laziness and sloppiness.

I play plenty of faux-folk, and much of it I like as well as folk. But that doesn't make a dalmation a leopard even thought they both have spots.

Stupidity is one thing. Intentional stupidity is worse.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 01:32 PM

"Suppose that we reserve the T-word for songs of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission. And suppose that we then apply the F-word to songs - whatever their origin - that the people of a specific community sing regularly, and acknowledge as their own."

As Malcolm Douglas ably pointed out recently (on another thread, I think) the question of authorship doesn't come into it. Any song can become 'traditional' if it is sung by a particular type of community over a long enough period.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 02:04 PM

"uestion of authorship doesn't come into it. Any song can become 'traditional' if it is sung by a particular type of community over a long enough period."

Yes it does! And that's exact;y why we need to separate the two meanings of the word traditional - apart from the legal one which means 'in public ownership.'

The Tradition is mostly agreed to mean that now-closed body of works, "of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission." It's NOT possible to add to this part of the catalogue, because the very special methods by which it was formed have now passed into history. There is too much rapid cross-contamination today by recorded media and other means for any new songs to acquire that unique geographical separation and re-formation which makes this body of work so particularly interesting from an folklore and musical/archeological point of view. This needs to be recognised - far too many people still don;t understand. This material be good bad or indifferent - you can judge it how you like from a musical point of view - and you can do what you like with it too, but it method of creation MUST be recognised and respected - and tags attached, so people can continue to derive information from this musical element of hsitory. That's why some labels DO matter. Think Time Team.

Meanwhile we ALSO need a new or different word to describe newer songs that have become or are maybe becoming traditional (small t) by modern means (such as being "sung by a particular type of community over a long enough period"), but where the author IS known.

This is for two reasons: Firstly because until 70 years after that author's death the work is copyright and royalties are due. To call a copyrighted work tradtional is no less than theft. And secondly because even once the work has passed out of copyright and is legally in public ownership, that writer sill deserves credit for his or her work. To call a publicly-owned work of known authorship traditional is lazy, rude and ungrateful.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Ogman
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 02:05 PM

Richard Bridge, please do not mention the word "leopard", on this thread. It might get hijacked.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 05:29 PM

"The Tradition is mostly agreed to mean that now-closed body of works, "of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission.""

This is NOT generally agreed - see Malcolm Douglas's post for 16th March 2007 on the 'What IS Folk Music?' thread.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM

Ok Shimrod you win... 'The Tradition' is NOT that 'now closed body of works'. No problem!

You and Mr Douglas have bagged that term for your wider category, which DOES include works of known origin, to which we CAN still add - yes? Fine.

But that closed body of work DOES exist, it IS closed, and it DOES need a name.

If it's not called The Tradition (which is fine with me - I'd never have called it that myself) then what DO we call it? There are plenty of posters here who'll fight you for 'traditional,' Mr Caroll for one I suspect, and he has a good case.

When the term was first coined it did mean only 'that body.' But now things have moved on, and we have this confusion, with both a finite and an infinate catalogue both having the same title.

Does that matter? Yes, it matters very much indeed - as any archeologist, lawyer, writer, songwriter, folklorist or historian will confirm. Only slack-thinking singers don't care.

It's essential, for the reasons I've outlined above, that we recognise the difference between works 'of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission' and works of known origin which have become popular through modern transmission.

I don't care what you choose to call either (or what value you place on either, individually or as a group) - but you MUST differentiate, or you'll loose the lode-stone.

Correct attribution of the creator of a creative work is not an issue in any other discipline; art, literature, classical music, poetry, furniture design, architecture - but for some reason folk-singers have decided that because SOME songs are public property, ALL songs should be public property. But that way lies theft of intellectual property and the gradual dissolution of the broader thing we choose to call 'folk.'

Even the really old stuff was originally created by someone, then developed in critical isolation by talented singers. We should honour all them when we sing their work - specially those of us who don't have the talent to make anything of equal beauty ourselves.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 07:16 PM

The correct use of the term "Folk" is as per the 1954 definition (or close). What we need is a word for the other stuff. The horse music. If it sounds vaguely folky, I think "neo-folk" would do. But of course some people seem intent on hijacking the word "folk" to mean (like Tweedledum and Tweedledee) whatever they want it to mean.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 02:47 AM

'Folk' has gone, Richard - let it go. No-one's hi-jacking it, it just changed over time like every other word, in every language, ever. ('Wicked', for example). You can't expect a flawed definition from 50 years ago to hold water today.

Yes, people should be encouraged to add an adjective whenever possible, to reduce confusion, but 'Folk' as a name for the whole genre is now accepted and universally understood.

The real problem lies in the definition of 'T/traditional' - because the definition of this word is not universal.

At the moment two groups are claiming it as definitive (the 'closed' and 'open' groups), and those two definitions are in conflict. Then there's the third defintion used by PRS and the Courts, which overlaps with the other two, adding further confusion.

The consequence of all this is that writers sometimes go uncredited, royalties sometimes go unpaid (or are paid wrongly) and valuable historical information is sometimes lost - plus people are misled into taking a unique and very special process fror granted


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Gurney
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 03:29 AM

The term 'Folk Music' is very useful.... for finding music I might like in a music shop/store.

Apart from that, if you get paid, it isn't, and if you don't, it is, as JerryR said right at the top.


In my pedantic-about-music period, I spent a lot of time thinking about the question. I finally decided that life was too short to bother about unanswerable problems.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 03:43 AM

See? There's another point of view, which is quite different to the other definitions, but has validity.

And another from another thread: A "folk song" or "folk tune" is defined by its source, and is still a folk song or tune if performed in a another style. But it is not "folk music" if it is performed in a non-participatory context".

None of the disputes about 'folk' matter, in the greater scheme of things, because that word has lost it's old precise meaning - and its new uses do not lead to any confusion or damage. The word works in all the contaxted mentioned above and on the other thread.

But the dispute about 'traditional' is a very different matter, because the confusion affects artists rights and damages our ability to track and so learn from the history of music.

The 1954 defintion of 'folk,' and others of a similar purpose, are all attempting to define what we now call Trad. Let's try to fix that before Trad looses its focus too - because we ain't got no more!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 05:07 AM

On this and other threads there are many references to the 1954 definition of 'folk,' but never have I seen it detailed. What was the 1954 definition?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ernest
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:32 AM

How about "folky" or "folkish" for that kind that doesn`t fit your definition (whatever that may be)?
Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 10:32 AM

"On this and other threads there are many references to the 1954 definition of 'folk,' but never have I seen it detailed. What was the 1954 definition?"

On the 14th March 2007 a member called 'Dazbo' posted the following definition (looks like '1955' not '1954')in the 'What IS Folk Music' thread. I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting it here, because I think it's rather nifty and bears repeating. Those who, for some reason, would like their own favourite musical form re-classified as 'Folk' will probably disagree.

'Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the traditions are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives. […] The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk-character (Journal of the International Folk Music Council, VII, 1955, p. 23).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 11:14 AM

The only disagreement I'd have with that definition is that "commposed popular music" remains unchanged when it is taken over by a community. That is often not the case. All you have to do is listen to Charlie Poole or others doing popular music to see how much they've changed it. Once a community gets it's hands on a song, they shape it to reflect the culture of their community.
The "folk process" works equally well on composed popular music. That's true of much of the body of composed music. I see it in hymns, all the time. In some newer hymnals, the line in Amazing Grace:
   "That saved a wretch like me" has been changed to
   "That saved and set me free."

The folk process is just a scholars term for faulty memory.. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Tootler
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 03:01 PM

The folk process is just a scholars term for faulty memory..

LOL. I like it.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 06:40 PM

Does no-one on this board sing a song because they like the song?

I'll go further Black Hawk! I never, but never sing a song unless I like it, and I never record or sing for money, any song, unless I LOVE it.

Audiences always know if you have no connection with the songs you sing, and it's the death knell of entertainment when you do that.

Attribution is the key. Always give credit, either to the composer, or to the fact that a song is traditional. Crediting yourself with your own compositions is optional, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. If it's any good, someone will usually ask, "Who wrote that?" Much more satisfying!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM

One of the problems of course is that the songs that WERE composed by individuals even hundreds of years ago by that definition cannot be folk. And if anyone argues that they are, how does that work? If, for example, "Mr Tambourine Man" is around in a few hundred years, will it be folk? If not, why? And if so, then why isn't it folk today?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:02 PM

"Meanwhile we ALSO need a new or different word to describe newer songs that have become or are maybe becoming traditional (small t) by modern means (such as being "sung by a particular type of community over a long enough period"), but where the author IS known."

Non sequitur guest! You have given a very cogent and precise reason why only the orally transmitted tradition should be referred to as "Traditional", and with that I tend to agree.

However it does not follow that a new name is needed for anything else.   Traditional folk, and Contemporary folk, provide the class delineations between what we do, and commercial pop rather nicely, and we can add those subset titles that are needed to describe, for example, Blues.

Of course the traditional will have its own subsets, e.g. Irish, American, West Indian and so on.

Folk, to me has always represented the umbrella under which all the rest shelter, and I will never agree with those who reserve the word to the English traditional canon (if they are right, there is no sense in using the T-word at all).

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:11 PM

Peace,

Of course the songs were composed by individuals (unless they were composed by Fairies, Angels or little creeping things that lived in the skirting-boards of Tudor Manor houses and crept out at night and whispered them into serving maids' ears - sorry, got carried away there!).

Just look at that last bit of the 1955 definition again:

"The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community AND REMAINS UNCHANGED, for it is the RE-FASHIONING and RE-CREATION of the music by the community that gives it its folk-character ..."

Thus the question of whether the composer of the song is known or unknown becomes IRRELEVANT once the song has been changed by the community. ANY song can become a folk song if it has been through the right process (ie. the process described in the 1955 definition).
The notion that folk songs are only those songs that have been composed by 'Anon.' is just plain wrong. To repeat, it is the PROCESS that a song has been through that determines whether it is a folk song or not - NOT its origin.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:13 PM

Comrades, comrades, we must not bicker. We must stick to the 1954 manifesto and we will overcome! Struggle is all.
(Meanwhile, when no one can see or hear me I write songs in my basement.)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:20 PM

"If, for example, "Mr Tambourine Man" is around in a few hundred years, will it be folk? If not, why? And if so, then why isn't it folk today?"

That problem will most likely solve itself Peace. In the most unlikely event that "Mr. Tambourine Man" is still remembered by anyone a hundred years from now, the population at that time will doubtless have their own definition of traditional, as no one living will be as close to, or as affected by, the oral tradition as we are.

Two of the oldest pieces in existence cannot, by some definitions, be called "Traditional", nor according to the 1954 definition, "Folk", since they were published by clerics of the time, on parchment.

How many here would define "Summer is Icumen in", or "The Cutty Wren", as neither traditional, nor folk.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:52 PM

"the question of whether the composer of the song is known or unknown becomes IRRELEVANT once the song has been changed by the community"

Shimrod. That's a dangerous argument. Why? Because it will have people believing that change and 'community ownership' are enough to negate the need for credit/attribution/copyright etc. This is because most believe that Trad = Publicly Owned.

So they'll decide that Changed/owned by community (=Trad) = Out of Copyright. Which is NOT the case - you see?

Now. I do agree with the basic principle as applied to the looser term 'folk' - because you can define that word how you like these days.

But, if we allow that Don T's definition has any credence, we must be VERY wary of using that criterion to define 'tradtional'. (If, on the other hand, Don's argument is wrong, then of course you may have the _word_ to for your process - but we'll need something else to describe Don's process).

Let me say it again: THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDINGS OF WHAT 'TRADITIONAL' MEANS (and as some people still use 'folk' in this area then you can substitute folk for traditional if you want to).

Don, mine is not a non-sequiter. I'm just the advocate here.

I'm presenting, side by side, two different 'truths'.

You, presumably, subscribe to what I've called above the 'closed' truth - the anon/old/niche-development definition, yes?

I assume this because you say "You have given a very cogent and precise reason why only the orally transmitted tradition should be referred to as "Traditional", and with that I tend to agree."

I have not, actually, said as much. I have merely described this as one point of view.

I have ALSO defined the other argument - equally valid - which I read here on mudcat over and over and over again. This is the definition almost promulgated by Shimrod above: "ANY song can become a folk song if it has been through the right process" - which others might put as "ANY song can become a TRADITIONAL song if it has been through the right process." I repeat his/her quote "the question of whether the composer of the song is known or unknown becomes IRRELEVANT once the song has been changed by the community."

Now, do you see the issue?

There is a 'closed' catalogue, and an 'open' catalogue - plus the issues of copyright and the correct attribution of writers.

No problem with this all this. All these situations can be explained and understood with a paragraph or so.

The problem is that both camps (and the legislature too) believe they have unique use of one word; 'Tradition' (or possibly 'folk')

Now. Who is to judge which is right? They can't all three be. But each refuses to give up his title.

An aside:

Of course it's stupid to claim 'trad' for England (I'm English btw). Every culture has its traditions, some still flowing, some with portions sealed by historical change like ours. The English model happens to be fairly important because of its age, patina, history and influence, but it's only one of thousands. I wish it had a unique name - and maybe in time we'll get one.

Meanwhile I take huge heart from Don T's post "Attribution is the key. Always give credit, either to the composer, or to the fact that a song is traditional. Crediting yourself with your own compositions is optional, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. If it's any good, someone will usually ask, "Who wrote that?" Much more satisfying!"


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 09:35 PM

Yes, I do tend toward (I wouldn't put it more strongly, as my take on it could be altered by a well thought out counter argument) the closed trad (it has to be, IF oral transmission is the criterion).

Narrowing the discussion, this would give each country its own body of traditional music, in every case the one word descriptor "Traditional" would be good and sufficient to the needs of identification.

As I said above, this leaves the general descriptor Folk free for broader use.

I like the elegant simplicity of the family tree model of grouping under the folk banner, and cannot see the justification, or indeed the need for inventing new descriptors.

It would be entirely logical IMO for all non trad to be considered contemporary, as this represents only the output of a single century. I am sure that, whether WE like it or not, with the passage of time, the best of that output will become recognised as some form of "Tradition Part 2". The rest deservedly will fade away to be replaced by 21st century contemporary, and so on ad infinitum.

Thank you for your kind response to my attribution comment, it is much appreciated.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 03:31 AM

I am not comfortable letting commercial (i.e. copyright) considerations drive a definition of what is traditional and what is not. It seems cockeyed, it describes the thing through its outcome, not through its essence. A bit like saying "this animal is big, so it must be an elephant".

Twenty years ago, when the birthday song was still in copyright, I'd have no problem saying that it was a traditional song, but attributable and still in copyright.

Neither do I feel beholden to a 1953 or 1954 definition for any genre of music, especially one that has been around for centuries. It feels arrogant, as if those that preceded us were too weak-minded to define what they were doing, and we came to put them right.

And though I understand and partially sympathise with those that would define the tradition as a "closed body of work to which one can no longer add", once more I feel that such a definition is driven out of changing technology considerations, and not addressing the inherent makeup of the thing described; therefore, also false, especially when so many agree that the folk process continues still today (see related thread of a month or so ago).

As people have already said, the whole need for putting labels to music is a latter-day phaenomenon anyway, driven out of a commercial wish to have identifiable sections in stores.

In the end there are clearly several views of what is traditional and what is not, and I can live with that. I don't feel the need to change the label "folk", and I am happy to let the meaning be adapted and expanded with time. And if the label scares people away, as Richard (rightly) says, well sod it, if people will judge by labels, so be it - the ones that have brains will still listen before making up their minds.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 03:45 AM

And just to show the fallacy of labels, some examples:

"Classical" music is still being written today - there are several contemporary composers of classical music, named so in the media.

"Jazz" is still being written today. "Traditional jazz" is mostly defined by style and age, though I believe there are pieces still written today that are called "traditional", if only to differentiate from "modern" or "freestyle".

And if we leave the world of music for a moment, a centuries-old piece of furniture or porcelaine is more easily recognised as "antique" if it can be attributed. But it can be called "traditional" even if it was made yesterday - because it is the style, the essence, that drives the terminology.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:00 AM

"Shimrod. That's a dangerous argument. Why? Because it will have people believing that change and 'community ownership' are enough to negate the need for credit/attribution/copyright etc. This is because most believe that Trad = Publicly Owned.

So they'll decide that Changed/owned by community (=Trad) = Out of Copyright. Which is NOT the case - you see?"

Dear 'Someone else',

Are you actually saying what I think you're saying?
I think you're saying (and I hope I'm wrong) that a coherent and logical description of Folk/Traditional music should actually be suppressed for commercial/political reasons? Now that's what I call dangerous!!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,A court user
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:02 AM

So what is the definition of "trad" used by the courts?   Be specific and be accurate.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Richard Bridge at a different computer
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:07 AM

A defined term, properly defined, does not lose its meaning by misuse by the ignorant. Additionally, if the term has come to mean what some here think it has come to mean, then it has no meaning.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:13 AM

(Sorry I'm late coming to this thread - thanks Richard for starting it. I still haven't had time to read it all yet)

In the most unlikely event that "Mr. Tambourine Man" is still remembered by anyone a hundred years from now

Leaving aside the issue of whether the world itself will survive another 100 years, why do you say it's unlikely, Don? It's already been around for over 40 years and still well remembered.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:19 AM

I still don't think I'm getting through.

I agree George that it's asking for trouble to let copyright define what Traditional means, but we are talking about product labels here, and writing the wrong thing on the tin can lead to digestion problems.

Let me explain. Take an extreme and not very good example: (This works better with Fiddlers Green, but we'll use Empty Handed for now).

Empty Handed is copyright GP. Not Trad. No dispute.

But if we allow that the adoption of a song by a community who make changes through natural attrition can re-define a song as traditional, then Empty Handed could become Trad - like this:

Say someone in Tasmania hears it at a singaround, but the singer forgot to mention you wrote it. He has an mp3 recorder on the table. Later, he asks a third party if it's trad. Oh yes, says the chum (because he's of Shimrod's opinion), I've heard lots of versions of that, and it's been around for ages. I think it's called 'It's not the setting sun.' Good, goes the singer. I'll put it on my next CD. And he does - as "Setting Sun (Trad).' Then you hear of it - oy, says you, that's my song. Nah, goes the singer - it's trad.

OK extreme example, but it's happened to Fiddlers Green, Galway Farmer, Ride On, Athenry etc etc etc.

Why? Because of this muddle about what Trad means.

That's why we need to sort it out.

It's no good each side just saying - the other lot are wrong, which is what keeps happening on this thread. We DO have a problem, Houston.

The only way to solve it is to change the language, so that the single word used to describe the origin of a song is not open to misinterpretation.

At the moment 'folk' songs fall into four broad categories.

1) Anon, passed down orally, public ownership. (Called Trad by all). EG Matty Groves.

2) Known writer, passed down orally, public ownership. (Called Trad by most - but should be credited with the writer's name - which doesn't always happen). EG Happy Birthday

3) Writer known by some but not all, being passed around a lot and adopted by communities etc, copyright. (Called Trad by a few who feel that Traditional merely means that a process is happening, or that a certain sound or style is enough to make it trad). EG Fiddlers Green.

4) Known writer, copyright (Not usually called Trad - but often called Folk, whic could lead to 3) in future). EG Empty Handed.

Oh and

5) Known writer, copyright (wrongly accredited as Trad) EG The White Hare - and others in the past.

See what I mean?

Tradional is a sippery slope.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:20 AM

Will it continue to be remembered when all those who were alive in the time it was written, have passed on?
G.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:32 AM

I get it, GUEST, Someone Else (sorry Richard, I get there eventually). OK, coming off soapbox, don thinking cap on...

Actually, there IS a word to describe what you want. Don't laugh when you read it, but it means "having been passed along from generation to generation". It is tralatitious. An example of its use: "Among Biblical critics a tralatitious interpretation is one received by expositor from expositor".

So, your category 1 above then becomes "tralatitional", and category 2 "tralatitional attributable". The remainder is just "folk".

OK, who will be the fist to start a Tralatitional Music Club?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Somone else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:34 AM

The legal definition is that the writer has been dead for 70 years. PRS make no distinction between Trad, Anon, and Publicly Owned - they all mean the same thing.

So if someone credits a song - or tune (it's even more commonplace with tunes) - as Trad that may be taken to mean Anon / Publicly owned. Which it may not, in fact, be.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:40 AM

Categories 1 and 2 above will always be confused, I think, whether we use Trad or Tralatitional; so we would need to employ the secondary "anon" for "publicly owned" (Category 1) and/or "attributable" for Category 2. Thus for example:

Category 1: Trad (anon), Tralatitional (anon), Tradanon (and why not)
Category 2: Trad (attrib), Tralatitional (attrib), Tradatt


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:45 AM

OK, who will be the fist to start a Tralatitional Music Club?

Are you trying to start a punch-up, George? :-)

"Tra la la la la" sounds tralatitional to me :-)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone Else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM

LoL

Nice try George!

I think the simplest is to go on using the word traditional to describe the process (of any era or nationality), but to credit individual works without using Trad at all.

1) Anon (or Trad anon if you really must)

2) Writer's name, PO (publicly owned)

3) Writer's name (the snag with this being that eventually it becomes PO, but that's down to PRS to know)

4) Writer's name

5) Writer's name (!)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM

Sorry Scrump, looks like I missed my Rs - not easily done...


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 08:14 AM

Case in point

in the Ride On thread - I've just read:

'From "Ride On", Christy Moore'

That's how it starts.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,PRS Member
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 05:48 PM

Why is is that whenever anyone mentions copyright to folkies everyone goes quiet and looks the other way?

Can it be that, like Victorians and babies, no-one wants to think about how songs get made?

Is songwriting something to be ashamed of?

Do songwriters not deserve what other creative artists are due?

Is that what folkies secretly believe?

I really do want to know.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 07:49 PM

Hi PRS Member (I am too, by the way); answering your questions in order:

No, not everyone, not even most - in my experience.

Not true - see above - and the discussion on this thread proves it. How are Victorians made by the way? :-)

Again, no; I was never made to feel ashamed of my songwriting, nor have scores of songwriters I can mention; Indeed next week two clubs in my area, Maidenhead and Banbury are running songwriting competitions!

No - I don't think that is what folkies secretly believe.

In answering the above I speak for myself, of course, but I know many who would agree with me.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 08:09 PM

Guest :Someone Else - - - You wrote :-

<< Case in point - in the Ride On thread - I've just read: 'From "Ride On", Christy Moore' That's how it starts.'>>

I don't understand what you mean.
That's how what starts?

One of the first posts in that thread says :-
'It was written by Jimmy McCarthy, if that's any help.'

A further post says :-
2 great versions of 'Ride On'...Christy Moore and Mary Coughlan. Check 'em out. make that three....Maura O'Connell too!

Seems quite clear to me - author of song is named followed by people who have covered the song. What is your problem with that?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 08:24 PM

I was never made to feel ashamed of my songwriting

Of course not George - you should be proud of them - they're great songs! :-)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 12:20 AM

I would question what "Someone Else" has said. In Berne Convention countries, at the end of the 31st December in the year 70 years after the death of the author, copyright expires. I know of no case on the effect of international time zones in this context. In most cases (but not, in the UK, works in which copyright was already running on the commencement of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988) copyright is a particular jurisdiction may be truncated by the expiry (but not seemingly prior termination or forfeiture) of copyright in the work in its "country of origin". This gets particularly exciting with US works because teh US used to forfeit copyright for all sorts of reasons that the rest of the world did not.

Then the work is "out of copyright". If a work is "out of copyright" or if for some reason such as the author and place of first publication not qualifying, then it is often referred to as "public domain" - an expression of which I have never fully approved because it is not defined in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act and so is of debatable meaning in the UK. I have tried since I first qualified as a solicitor and started to specialise in copyright in 1976 to be consistent in this usage, and while I have been called "pedantic" in this I have never been called "wrong".

If anyone can point me to any UK court judgment actually using "trad" or "traditional" in the way Someone Else (I think) suggests I would be interested. I am not aware of it being used in that way in the recent "Procul Harum" judgment which did debate the similarity of "Whiter Shade of Pale" to J. S. Bach's "Air on a G string".

It is, I suppose, my legal background that tends me to think of a "definition" as being set in stone, for certainly in that context if statute or common law provides a specified meaning for a word or phrase, then a use that is inconsistent with that specified meaning is, quite simply, and without possibility of argument, wrong.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 12:32 AM

Incidentally, George, tralatitious may be in Miriam-Webster, but it is not in the Concise Oxford and I will not get a chance to check the Complete Oxford until Saturday.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 12:34 AM

But it is nice to see some posts to the thread that indicate intelligent life - as opposed to those to which the only response can be "Neigh". I was within a whisker of abandoning this thread entirely in the light of some of the twaddle above.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,PRS Member
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM

Good to see posts on this topic this morning. I was afraid it was going to fizzle out. Sorry for being deliberately provocative but really this is THE most important task we face in the 21st century. As piracy decimates the major music industries on the one side, and media pressures attempt to water down traditional material from the other, while issues like The White Hare attempt to explode it from within, this needs urgently to be sorted, as GUEST Someone Else says.

The 'Neigh'-sayers perhaps want to be able to treat all folk material the same - as their own. But it cannot be morally right to deny writers their dues, plus any blurring of the line between original and anon must lead to a dumbing-down of historical culture, and the loss of vital signposts to our past.

My understanding is also that the PRS make no distinction between Anon, Traditional, Out of Copyright and Public Domain, and I've had this confirmed during the White Hare investigation. Because any legal dispute will tend to involve PRS we can assume that their definitions are based on law and prededent. Richard may know better - but I've been told very clearly that a work resistered as trad, or published as trad (not the same thing) rather than trad/arr, will be de facto public domain/out of copyright, and that this carries legal weight. Trad/arr works are free to use, but may incur royalities if your arrangement can be proved to be identical (unlikely).

The Procul Harum case did not turn on Out of Copyright issues.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:29 AM

PRS, at the highest levels, is a political organisation (likewise the MU) and the temptations that affect the conduct of politicians (not, of course corruption as such, but the pressures to cut a coat according to cloth) affect both, and there is not reason to assume that the PRS definitions are strictly in accordance with the law. For example the "PRS rights" are not 100% coterminous with the legal aspects of copyright directed to pubic performance.

In practical terms - anon = PRS doesn't need to pay any author
Trad - PRS doesn't need to pay any author
Out of copyright - ditto
PD - ditto

So why would they distinguish?

It is right that copyright may in principle be lost by dedication.
There are however a number of principles of copyright law that apply to anonymous and psuedonymous works, and some affect the duration of copyright. The rules as to infringement of copyright for an arrangement are the same as for a wholly original work - reproduction does not need to be exact, merely substantial.

I think that concentration on the legal issue of whether there is copyright or not will not necessarily illuminate our search for a term for music or song that is rather like folk music or folk song but is not within the definition.
n organisation that cannot really be trusted,


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:48 AM

To clarify my reference to Ride On.

Yes - precicely my point. At the top of the thread the writer was identified, and lower down other arrangements were mentioned. But that did not stop one poster quoting a section of lyrics and crediting them to Christy Moore.

Now, either that person just hadn't read the thread, and was re-stating his own ignorance (we see a LOT of that), or - more likely - he'd merely done a cut and paste from one of the many web sites which blithely credit songs to people who've recoded them, rather than to the original author - something else that needs to be addressed.

It's all part of the same problem: A lazy attitude to accreditiation, which is widespread in the folk world, which leads to all the losses outlined above.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:51 AM

Sorry that should be 'widespread within _some sections_ of the folk world.'

Many (most?) people do appreciate the importance of accreditation, of course. But too many don't - and this 'what's traditional/folk' argument is part of the same problem.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 07:02 AM

Richard wrote: "I think that concentration on the legal issue of whether there is copyright or not will not necessarily illuminate our search for a term for music or song that is rather like folk music or folk song but is not within the definition."

Fair point. That was after all your reason for starting the thread.

I'd say we don't really need a new word to describe 'music or song that is rather like folk music or folk song but is not within the definition' because the definition is so wide as to be outwith definition.

But if you want to have a grey area at the edges, why not just say what everyone does already... 'folky' (perhaps with the emphasis on the 'y').

The reason I've banged on about geting a clear definition of 'trad' is that to a few die-hards, 'folk' does still mean what the rest of us call 'trad.' While this persists, then a clear definition of 'folk' may still be necessary.

I mention the legal issue, because at the end of the day it's important. There wouldn't BE a legal issue if it attributions wasn't important.

Let me suggest the following definitions:

Folk = music and song with easily traceable roots.

Folky = music using styles, sounds or other elements of folk but with less clear roots.

Tradition/al = owned by a community, mainly oral transmission

Anon = no known writer

Source = Anon, adapted by processes that have now ceased to function due to technology etc.

Public Domain (PD) = out of copyright. Used thus:

Writer's Name PD - known writer but adapted by tradition, and now out of copyright.

Writer's Name - in copyright (but check in case they've been dead for 70 years yet, in which case use PD).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Fidjit
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 05:58 PM

If you're singing other peoples songs and even your own you are doing "Covers".

If you're mixing it with traditiional material, Then you're doing just that. Mixing it.

Chas


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 03:32 AM

Personally, I think that the issues around ownership and accreditation are quite complex even when it comes to traditional music. Look a the issues around Peter Kennedy, the McPeakes, Wild Mountain Thyme etc. That's before you even put Rod Stewart into the mix...

What's to stop someone making minor alterations to a trad song, and claiming authorship?


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