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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Pseudonymous The current state of folk music in UK (1949* d) RE: The current state of folk music in UK 01 Nov 19

With respect to the OP, my view (and I don't intend to read any response that Jim Carroll posts, because too often experience them as bullying or generally belligerent in tone) is in agreement with the thought expressed above that the discussion title might not have been the perfect springboard for discussion. Moreover, I will also add that very often the concepts we are using are in some sense 'theoretical' rather than 'factual' or 'definitional'. Moreover, these and other concepts are also at times blurring historical reality, which was mentioned above.

Partly it depends on how long your historical view is. I have just read two books on the history of Scotland, one on the Vikings and one on the Anglo Saxons. And of course I have read more history than this.

Just because today we have a clear geographical sense of where Scotland, England and the island of Ireland, together with the border across it when the UK ends and the Republic of Ireland begins, it does not mean that if we go back historically and culturally the same borders applied.

And if (big if and I'm not sure how far I subscribe, especially if the argument is one about pure orality of cultural transmission) we apply these same labels and areas to whatever cultural practices existed in the past we are likely to be going wrong.

To give a micro example, I recently learned that the word 'craik' which people I know use almost as in indicator of Irish ethnicity comes from 'Anglish' via Scotland, and was popularised by some TV programme mid-29th century.

So for years history books have been telling as that the tribe known as the Scotti (that may not be spelled correctly) actually came from the island of Ireland. There were kingdoms that straddled the borders over water, including one of Viking dominance and, as I understand it, earlier Celtic ones. So a neat Scotland/Ireland/England distinction falls down. Neither was Scotland as monolithic as all that. It is believed that the people in the far North East spoke a different form of Gallic to those in the West. At the time of the 'Anglo Saxon' invasion/immigration, the Angles came to occupy much of what is lowland Scotland as well as England, hence the language.

For a long time, the Church in Ireland was not the Church of Rome. There was a synod at Whitby. So many concept we now take for granted, such as Roman Catholicism in Ireland are on a long view, reflections of cultural interchange via one route or another, in more or less violent ways in different contexts. Ironically in the theory of the middle ages rulers got their legitimacy from God via the Pope who authorised the Anglo Norman invasions of Ireland.

Part of what led to this line of thinking is the use of the term 'indigenous' by somebody above. This reminds me of the sort of cultural threat that the far right assert hangs over 'British culture' and the young far right who claim, virtue signalling their patriotism, that this is under threat. One young acoustic song=writer I know of posted a poem amid he songs including the phrase 'kick a Moslem' or some such, and actively supports Tommy Robinson and the far right party supported by Morrisey (an interesting example of cultural interchange as his Irish roots are something he has commented upon). I think we need to be careful.

And nobody here has posted anything about the people in the UK playing or drawing upon folk music that is not 'indigenous' in the sense intended by the original poster. Not to mention the overwhelmingly male posters. Where are the traditional lullabies?

My understanding is that nobody knows much about what music people outside churches and the educated elite were making in England in the past. My belief is that some 'definitions' put forward of folk music and better described as 'theories' because they beg so many questions about what happened when and how far back practices observed in the 20th century, all too often by researchers whose research methods seem almost designed to pollute their ethnographical reports.

What is plain is that some people claim that their favoured definition is the one that has always been used, and this is so far from the truth that it is difficult to escape the thought that such claims are used as some sort of conversational battering ram.

I agree with some posters in that cannot see how the state of clubs related to the state of folk music as this is defined in some definitions. A revival seems to me to be something different from a tradition. I could stuff a chicken so that it looks lifelike and leave it on the kitchen table for all to admire: it could not be said that I had 'revived' the chicken.

I have seen some very enjoyable acoustic music recently that I suppose is folk, some from China, some from Iran. This is the sort of 'folk scene' we might usefully be promoting, I believe.

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