Mudcat Café message #1951201 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #98509   Message #1951201
Posted By: George Papavgeris
29-Jan-07 - 10:05 AM
Thread Name: Folk Process - is it dead?
Subject: Folk Process - is it dead?
This question has been building in my head for some time now, as a result of discussions on other threads and boards around what can and what cannot be accepted as traditional song/music. In short:

Someone - I think it was Diane - stated that traditional music is a body of work to which one can no longer add (my own words, I cannot remember the precise expression used).

That got me thinking: Take a song such as Dave Webber's "Padstow May Song", which all agree is written "in the tradition", though not traditional today; now, in 200 years would that song not be traditional, simply because its provenance is known? And would it not be deemed to have been filtered through the "Folk Process" as different singers take it on and add their interpretations?

We seem to treat the "Folk Process" as something that happened in the past, when records were not made or kept, when songs passed from mouth to ear. We seem to imply a certain magic in that process, that hones a song to perfection in a way no "dot reader" ever could; that somehow smoothes any flaws in the original and renders a patina impossible to apply with modern means.

I argue that the Folk process is alive and well. Songs are still passed from singer to singer, indeed more easily now, given technology's advances. And that in turn means that more performers get to hear - and be tempted to try - the song, thus giving it more turns on the sharpener's wheel, so to speak. And 200 years from now, at some traditional folk song event, someone might rightly sing the Padstow May Song, attributing it to "that ancient bard Dave Webber", but probably somewhat changed from the original version. And all the better for it.

Your views?