Mudcat Café message #3261184 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #141622   Message #3261184
Posted By: Phil Edwards
21-Nov-11 - 06:33 PM
Thread Name: What Folk Revival?
Subject: RE: What Folk Revival?

Where will the 50-year old or 100-year old music of that future then come from? It should be appearing now, shouldn't it?

I'll tell you a story. Once upon a time in the land of Fiftyfornia, cruel King Ewan banned the use of electrical sound recording devices of all kinds. The people of the land flocked to watch films of musicians performing, so he banned video and TV and had all the cinemas closed down. The Fiftyfornians became avid fans of music radio, before that too was banned. Clockwork devices were exempt from the original legislation, so gramophones, phonographs and player pianos had a brief vogue among the music-starved population, before they were banned in turn.

Only two options were available to the Fiftyfornians. They could go and listen to professional musicians, performing in concerts, recitals, operas, ballets, musical comedies and theatrical pieces of all sorts. And go they did, but for most people the cherished musical nights out came round all too rarely: professional musicians need to make a living (the clue's in the name), and only the very richest Fiftyfornians could afford to go to a concert more than a couple of times a month. The only other option for the Fiftyfornians was to make music themselves. They would play tunes and sing songs when they met in pubs, at family get-togethers or even just to while away a quiet night in; the children would sing in idle moments at school, the adults would sing in busy moments at work. They played tunes they'd heard in concerts, and after a while they made up tunes of their own; they sang songs they'd heard at the theatre, and after a while they made up new ones. For most of the people, most of the time, there was only one way to hear music: you made it, or got a friend to make it for you. After a while everyone knew a song or two, in the sense of being able and willing to get up and sing it straight through; most people knew ten or twenty, and a few people knew a couple of hundred. Among the theatre-going public, the talk was all about the latest songs from the latest shows. For the great majority of people, the songs that counted were the songs they knew and their friends knew: not "show songs" but "people's songs".

A hundred years later, a revolution overthrew cruel King Ewan, and the new regime repealed all the mad old King's laws banning recorded and broadcast music. Film, TV, radio all abounded in recorded music; records, CDs and MP3s all found a ready market (although pianola rolls didn't really take off). The Fiftyfornians rejoiced as they rejoined civilisation. Some people expressed anxiety about the future of "people's songs", but the new government dismissed the doubters. "People's songs have lasted a hundred years," said one spokesperson. "Why would they die out now?"