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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Tom Bliss Is traditional song finished? (621* d) RE: Is traditional song finished? 08 Mar 10


This comes down to statistics.

We both probably agree on the number of people who, like you, prefer Folk to refer only to a repertoire of material which has undergone a certain process (the past tense being critical here).

We disagree on the the number of people who prefer it to mean something else.

You say the second group is confined to a diminishing number of clubs who allow non-traditional material to be performed. So that would be a few thousand people in the UK at most?

I say the number is massive, because it includes anyone who has ever encountered the word in record shop racks, in radio and TV broadcasts, gigs, festivals, magazines and newspapers - on both sides of the Atlantic and in at least most English speaking countries - since the 1960s. I think that would number well into the millions.

Now - if we could run a world-wide survey and it turned out that I was right - would you accept my argument that the definition had been widened by a democratic process?

I hope you would. I can't prove my numbers claim, though I'll stand by it. I can however speak from personal experience about your claim. (I think I'm in good position to do this because I've been booked by hard-core trad clubs as often as I have by contemporary and easy-going clubs - something very few artists can say).

I'll report that you can count the number of UK clubs which restrict the material performed to '54 Folk' on the fingers of one hand. Most of the clubs who label themselves 'Traditional' will also enjoy new songs, and are happy to hear a wide variety of material. (The may, however, politely ensure that it doesn't take over). These clubs are doing well, but not many are recruiting new members, and most are populated by people well into their 60s. (Tune sessions are a very different story - very healthy and very Trad, incidentally you NEVER hear the F word in tune sessions, it's always 'Trad').

By contrast, the number of clubs (not all of whom use the F word, of course), where you hear some traditional material along with trad-sounding new songs plus others people just fancy doing, runs into the hundreds, or thousands if you include singarounds and open mics. These are doing much better, and often have younger people in them. Tthese places DO support traditional song along with the rest, so they ARE valuable both from a performance/community point of view, AND from a repertoire/educational point of view.

This a GOOD THING, not a threat to The Tradition.

All you have tov do, Jim is accept the substitution of the word Traditional for your word Folk. Pretty much everyone else has, so I don;t know why it should be so hard.

You made a little story about buying soup in another thread. I'll retell it my way.

John Christmas likes tomato soup. Once upon a time, long long ago, the only kind of tinned soup you could buy was tomato. But then they started making other flavours of soup as well.

John Christmas goes into a shop and asks for a tin of soup. He's thinking of tomato, but he doesn't ask for it, because he only ever buys tomato soup and he's forgotten that they started making other flavours 60 years ago.

The nearest tin happens to be lentil, but the shopkeeper thinks John won't mind as he only asked for soup, so presumably he likes all types of tinned soup.

John buys the soup without examining the label, (which actually says Lentil in big letters on it), then he goes home and opens the tin. Oh no! He HATES lentil soup.

Now, whose fault is it?

The Romans had a phrase which the lawyers have adopted - Caveat Emptor.

I'm not asking you to cross-examine club organisers. Just to understand that they are labelling their soup correctly. If you want to make sure it's tomato you need to read the label carefully. There are usually plenty of clues.


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