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No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?

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Tootler 16 Nov 10 - 06:25 PM
GUEST 16 Nov 10 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Patsy, pretending to work 16 Nov 10 - 08:22 AM
The Fooles Troupe 15 Nov 10 - 08:20 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Oct 10 - 07:23 PM
Phil Edwards 20 Oct 10 - 06:59 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 20 Oct 10 - 11:43 AM
The Sandman 20 Oct 10 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Oct 10 - 08:44 AM
Will Fly 20 Oct 10 - 07:55 AM
Brian Peters 20 Oct 10 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Oct 10 - 07:08 AM
Brian Peters 20 Oct 10 - 06:34 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Oct 10 - 06:21 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Oct 10 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Oct 10 - 04:25 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Oct 10 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Jon 19 Oct 10 - 06:58 PM
Tootler 19 Oct 10 - 06:56 PM
Phil Edwards 19 Oct 10 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 19 Oct 10 - 06:22 PM
MGM·Lion 19 Oct 10 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Oct 10 - 05:11 PM
Slag 19 Oct 10 - 04:48 PM
Tim Leaning 19 Oct 10 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,999 19 Oct 10 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,999 19 Oct 10 - 03:25 PM
Tim Leaning 19 Oct 10 - 03:17 PM
brezhnev 19 Oct 10 - 02:43 PM
Goose Gander 19 Oct 10 - 12:49 PM
The Sandman 19 Oct 10 - 12:31 PM
The Sandman 19 Oct 10 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Oct 10 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 19 Oct 10 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,crazy little woman 19 Oct 10 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 19 Oct 10 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,glueman 19 Oct 10 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,glueman 19 Oct 10 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 19 Oct 10 - 07:12 AM
TheSnail 19 Oct 10 - 07:09 AM
Phil Edwards 19 Oct 10 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 19 Oct 10 - 06:37 AM
Rob Naylor 19 Oct 10 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 19 Oct 10 - 06:10 AM
Phil Edwards 19 Oct 10 - 05:55 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 19 Oct 10 - 05:48 AM
GUEST 19 Oct 10 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 19 Oct 10 - 04:06 AM
Tootler 18 Oct 10 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Oct 10 - 05:58 PM
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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Nov 10 - 06:25 PM

Answer 3: Popular music of former times. By this definition you can include material even when you know who wrote it.

I don't claim to be the originator of this definition but I have always liked it for its brevity. Like Answer 1, it has blurred edges - very blurred.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Nov 10 - 03:29 PM

What is folk music?

Answer 1: A convenient marketing category helping us all find the records we happen to enjoy / prefer to avoid. As with any other genre classification, it has blurred edges but we all know what the term essentially means in this usage.

Answer 2: Music which emerges through the folk process, and hence is "the work of many hands". By this definition, if you know who wrote it, it ain't folk music.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Patsy, pretending to work
Date: 16 Nov 10 - 08:22 AM

Well I am no expert but what is NOT folk music is easier to answer than what is. As with everything everyone has their own opinion the same as with Rock some people would rate Bon Jovi and others would rate Slipnot as being hard rock and belly-laugh at the thought of Bon Jovi.

My perception of folk especially as far as a festival goes is a damned good enjoyable gig for a fraction of the cost of watching a commercialised band and a good time is had by all. Especially good if it is a struggling local band. I enjoy Maddie Pryor, Irish Celtic bands, the Seekers (old), the Settlers, the Spinners, Pentangle, Faiport Convention etc. I also like Celtic Reggae mixes, can that be counted as folk? To me it is but to others it might be just experimental music. I've noticed that 'new' dreadlocked hippies now embrace some reggae at some of the venues that I have been. It isn't mainstream but can that be classed as a kind of folk or is that urban but then others call urban hip-hop.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 08:20 AM

Well, that went rather well, after I wasunable to get online for a while....

Maybe that's a hint...

The Indispensable Man

Sometime when you're feeling important,
Sometime when your ego's in bloom,
Sometimes when you take it for granted
You're the best qualified in the room.

Sometimes when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to your wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Is a measure of how you'll be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you'll find that in no time
It looks quiet the same as before.

The moral in this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself, but remember,
There's no indispensable man.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 07:23 PM

Having read both books under discussion and now various pieces by Alan Bearman, personally the class-conscious activities of Sharp do not interest me, although Bearman's exposure of Dave Harker's statistics manipulation is somewhat disappointing. Sharp seemingly recorded faithfully all of the material he collected, unlike some who came before him. As I said earlier it is very unfortunate that Dave chose to put such a strong political slant on his expose of all the middle-class interference with the material. BUT the overall book still stands as one of the earliest and most comprehensive, exposing the extensive mediation of antiquarians, collectors etc., some of whom indulged in downright deception, and that's from my own research which backs up a lot of what Dave presents.
To me it matters little what the collectors published as long as the faithfully recorded field notes and manuscripts are left to posterity.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 06:59 PM

Here are those















line breaks you sent for...


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 11:43 AM

Robert Burns dismounts stiffly from his horse on a dreich Winter's evening, having ridden forty miles through the muddy roads and lanes of Dumfriesshire, and pulls off his boots and sodden top-coat to sit wearily by the fire. Whilst Jean sets before him a bowl of broth, he reaches for a sheet or two of ruled Excise paper and writes a few lines he has been running over in his head for the last hour or so, testing them against the Scots air he wishes to provide with a set of words. Although of his own composition, he feels that they are closer in spirit to the songs of his compeers, the Common People, than the polite words set to that air three-quarters of a century ago by one of Allan Ramsay's "ingenious young gentlemen" in contributing to "The Tea-Table Miscellany" of the 1720s. These words have been sung by other polite ladies and gentlemen gathered around harpsichords in their Palladian villas, built by the Adam family, since their first publication, and he's also heard them sung at country weddings by friends and neighbours in Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Dumfries. After all, he found them first in "The Lark", a cheap collection of words (only) which he pored over incessantly as a youth; neither he nor anyone of his own "order" - the tillers of the land, not the owners - had ever been able to afford a collection printed with both words and musical scores. Not, that is, until James Johnson began publishing "The Scots Musical Museum", with notes struck cheaply on pewter plates rather than engraved, at great expense (everyone recognises how skilled a trade engraving is) on large copperplates. Since 1787, he has been contributing both his knowledge of Scots music, and his unrivalled skill in wedding words to a melody, to this publication; already he has made upwards of two hundred songs, sometimes adapting a line or two he found in David Herd's manuscripts (consulted when in Edinburgh) as well as in Herd's own two volumes of Ancient and Modern Scotish Songs, Heroic Ballads and Pastorals. He is startled out of what he sometimes calls a "poetic reverie" by Jean, who hands him a package from Edinburgh; opening it, he finds the most magnificent quarto edition of music he has ever seen. George Thomson - a violinist, and Chief Clerk to the Government's Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh - has at last published his "Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs", complete with accompaniments by Continental composers, all arranged for the new-farrant Pianoforte and the German Flute, with "opening and concluding symphonies", no less. When approached to provide some new verses, such as might be sung by ladies and gentlemen, Burns had readily agreed, stating only that he would not accept any payment; the common people, after all, had made songs for themselves "time out of mind" without thought of anything other than the love of their music and the approval of their neighbours, and he had done the same for Johnson's publication without thought of payment; even if the ordinary, down-to-earth Johnson could have afforded it, to take money for making songs would be (he grinned as he reflected on his words to Thomson) "downright sodomy of soul". At that very moment, a small sheet of paper fluttered from the pages; a Banker's Draft for £5; the price of one of Thomson's splendid volumes. A few curses followed, and the reflection that one more possession of the Common People was being appropriated by "People of Condition", who thought that everything had a price, or, at least, everything they thought worthy of taking. No doubt, in years to come, a few readers would look back on the effigy of an age, the few, "select" songs that the Polite deemed worthy of performance and publication, while the outwardly unimpressive publications of Herd, and Johnson, and that aggressive wee fellow Ritson from England, would be overlooked or forgotten. Perhaps some scholars would argue over such things as "authenticity" but - and here he sighed - no doubt, in the Imperial state that Britain had become, they would probably confine their arguments to the collecting activities of some gentlemen from England who would, maybe even a century after his own work, take an interest in the field. He lifted his fiddle from the wall and roughly picked out the notes of another air he remembered from childhood....


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 08:55 AM

I certainly object to the FAR RIGHT trying to hijack folk music.but i would say folk music is not exclusively apolitical, it is political it is also non political, it can be and is both


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 08:44 AM

Whatever the eventual results, I think his intentions were clear enough i.e. to remove the songs to a safer haven where they would be better served than they would in their natural habitat which he regarded as not only doomed, but degenerate. His ideas on survival confirms this, that he was effectively harvesting songs long overdue from people who were barely capable of singing them, much less appreciating their true value. That he was mistaken in this is by the by; he thought he was right - that in so doing he was creating a new era of our national folk heritage, rather than some volkish fantasy based on an autocratic misinterpretation that to Sharp was absolute fact.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 07:55 AM

I'm no expert in this area by a long way but, presumably, after the collection and publication process had taken place by Sharp and others, there would have been, for some time, two parallel strands: (a) the continuum of the original singers in their locale - the Coppers being one example of this - and (b) the "tarted-up", arranged versions being introduced into schools and elsewhere.

Perhaps the effect of Sharp et al was to obscure (a) while bringing (b) into prominence - rather than remove (a) altogether.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 07:35 AM

"Removal" means to take away from one place and convey to another. What Sharp did (whatever over-pessimistic ideas he may have had about extinction) was to reproduce the form (or a tarted-up version of it) elsewhere. I don't see how that's stealing. If he'd nicked it, how come all those 'pure drop' singers like the Coppers, Pardon, Jordan, Blaxhall Ship, etc., carried on their singing traditions without any interference from him?

Attempts were made by at least some of the Edwardian collectors to record the subtleties of melodic variation and ornament that were essential to traditional performance style, and of course the more recent Revival, far from overlooking the craft of traditional performers, has celebrated it.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 07:08 AM

I would have thought that very rebranding was part of its removal; the assumption that he was saving the songs from an invitable extinction if left unremoved was the motivating factor of The Revival. The craft of traditional singers as performers was overlooked given that no attempt was made to replicate traditional performance styles in his musical arrangements of such material or else his advices on how it ought to be performed by singers who were not just going to be Revival Singers of Traditional Songs (as we might tentatively regard ourselves today with due deference to Traditional Singers) but the New Folk. This is an attitude which isn't so very uncommon today, though one would hope, as I say, any Revival Singer would first reference (and reverence) the source which remains, in any case, the pure drop.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 06:34 AM

"removing it from its unwashed traditional custodians (who barely understood its significance) and placing it into the hands of more accomplished & learned proponents"

Sharp may indeed have attempted to rebrand folk music for the use of the middle classes, but in what sense did he try to remove it from its traditional custodians?


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 06:21 AM

I doubt the author has those sorts of preconceptions anyway, Shim - everything is sourced and accounted for accordingly and I get the impression (from the Imagined Village thread) that my impressions are a good deal more jaundiced than was her (very worthy & objective) intention. Whatever the apologists might say, Sharp did believe he was doing our National Culture of Folk Song & Dance a sevice by removing it from its unwashed traditional custodians (who barely understood its significance) and placing it into the hands of more accomplished & learned proponents - an attitude that prevails even unto this day. The more I read of C#, the more he reminds me not only of Joseph Smith, but of WAV.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 04:47 AM

" ... the image that emerges (in The Imagined Village certainly) is that of an authoritarian autocrat hung up on his absolute correctness in matters of the culture of Folk Dance and Song."

I've noticed, throughout my life, that there's a tendency to confer labels, like "authoritarian autocrat" on people who say or write things that other people don't want to hear. Sharp was a doer and a deep and original thinker - perhaps he found himself in constant conflict with people who had already decided what Folk Dance and Song were and weren't prepared to even consider any evidence which conflicted with their preconceptions.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 04:25 AM

The politics are born from the class & cultural condesension that typifies the early revival (and upon which it was predicated as an ideology) irrespective of the political leanings of its perpetrators. In this respect, there is just as much class & cultural condescension on the left as there is on the right, which accounts for my general revulsion of political songwriting in general - folk or otherwise, be it Ewan MacColl or Robert Wyatt, both of whom I love in other respects. Whatever Sharp's actual political allegiances may or may not have been, the image that emerges (in The Imagined Village certainly) is that of an authoritarian autocrat hung up on his absolute correctness in matters of the culture of Folk Dance and Song.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Oct 10 - 03:55 AM

There seems to be a bit of a consensus emerging here - that's a first!
Perhaps this thread has turned out to be not quite as silly as its title!


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:58 PM

These days, I tend to disagree. I'd now rather escape by just playing a tune that only means what I want it to mean,


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Tootler
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:56 PM

I think Peter Bellamy has it about right.

There have been a number of threads recently protesting at attempts by the far right to hijack folksong for the purpose of furthering their own political ends, yet here we see what I have long suspected, that the far left have been just as guilty of the same thing and have been at it longer.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:23 PM

Just to confuse matters further, I'm a Marxist - now that I've said it once, I'm even an avowed Marxist! But my sympathies are almost entirely with Bearman, because on balance I think he's more or less correct. The tone of that letter is a bit extreme, but I think it reflects the frustration of someone who had identified actual errors in a respected work, only to find that it carried on being respected - albeit with occasional nods to his critical work, as if he was simply expressing an alternative point of view.

I should like, for a moment, to turn around the thread title to read "What is folk music not?'; to which I will, purely, or anyhow mainly, as a debate-inducer, suggest the answer "It is not Primarily Political."

Here's Peter Bellamy, from the clip uploaded by Suibhne recently:

'Songs of political comment have always been part of the tradition. The only thing I would take exception to is the strongly left-wing movement that would like to see that sort of song take over and eradicate non-political folk song - because non-political folk song is the majority of folk song. If you look at the traditional repertoire in detail, for every song that says "Isn't life terrible, let's do something to change it" there are at least twelve that say "Hey, isn't this great down here!"'

I tend to agree.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:22 PM

Yes, MtheGM, I agree with you - thank you GSS. Although I would describe myself as a bit of a lefty I have long felt that Left Wing ideology has tended to obscure our understanding of trad. music, rather than illuminate it.

The more I read of Bearman's work, the more I sympathise with it and him. I particularly sympathise with his brave attempts to rescue Cecil Sharp's reputation from the unjustified smears of the likes of Harker. I note the involvement of Vic Gammon's name in this controversy. Nevertheless, VG has written a very interesting essay on Sharp in his introduction to the EFDSS publication, 'Still Growing: English Traditional Songs from the Cecil Sharp Collection'(2003). I would suggest that this is another essential read if you're in any way interested in Cecil Sharp and the Victorian/Edwardian folk song collectors.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:21 PM

I don't think sufficient appreciation has been expressed [indeed, none] to GSS for his service in reproducing Mr Bearman's important letter here. Thank you, Dick. I did not previously know Bearman's work, until I read his Folk Music Journal article above, & now this letter to EFDSS executive. Without purporting doctrinairely to take sides in the dispute, I think it obvious that he is serious scholar and researcher, whose depoliticising work could do much to restore the balance to this [what many people, incl me, have long regarded as] grossly over-politicised field, in which too many avowed Marxists [Seeger, MacColl, Lloyd, Gammon, Harker...] have for too long carried their own agenda to far too great an extent.

I should like, for a moment, to turn around the thread title to read "What is folk music not?'; to which I will, purely, or anyhow mainly, as a debate-inducer, suggest the answer "It is not Primarily Political."

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:11 PM

LOL so on the last night of the proms the can be certain that the classical Arefusa(?sp) is not really a take on the Princess Royal.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Slag
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 04:48 PM

Ok ft, I got it. Here is your definitive answer, the necessary and sufficient for knowing what is not folk music:

                      EVERYTHING ELSE

You're welcome.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 04:01 PM

I have agrape mind... That's about the size of it...


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 03:29 PM

Sorry, Tim. I'd not seen your post when I wrote mine. Great minds . . . .


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 03:25 PM

I expect the majority of posters are from the UK. So rather than venture an opinion I will say with no trepidation at all that bread sticks are NOT folk music.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 03:17 PM

Sorry but all the fun has gone from this thread for me.
I will add it to the list.
1) Folk Music
2)Stonehenge
3) this thread.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: brezhnev
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 02:43 PM

Very Good, Shimrod. Here's a more modern one:

----------------

Viktor Vinogradov, the Soviet delegate, grim determination set on his jaw, strides in to the 1959 International Folk Music Council conference bar in the former royal palace in Bucharest.

Mihai Pop, his Romanian host, seated in an armchair reading Izvestiya, looks up, stands to attention and says "Greetings, Comrade. What's afoot?"

"Greetings Comrade delegate Pop," says Vinogradov. "What's afoot? 12 inches! Ha! Ha!...Now, y'know that speech you're going to read to the conference tomorrow about new folk...?"

"Oh gosh, rath-err!", says Pop.

"Well I have it here in my bag."

"Oh do tell what it says!" says Pop.

"Later, you buffoon! You only have to read it", snaps Vinogradov. "Now, have you been to the Maxim Gorky Collective Farm no 18 outside Stalin City?"

"Why, of course, Your Folkiness" says Pop, "There is no finer example of collectivisation in the whole of Romania. Following your most excellent instructions, workers and peasants have spontaneously set up a cultural palace there, created a folk orchestra in the national style and moved the maypole from the village square to the entrance of the people's grain silos..."

"That is good", says Vinogradov "I hear from First Secretary Dragoi that emissaries from the Folk Institute have been collecting folk songs there."

"It is so, Your Folkship," says Pop. "And in line with your most traditional instructions they are all spontaneous folk creations of the collective, portraying the new conception of labour and the people's artistic vision, thoughts and aspirations under the new social relations brought about by the liberation from capitalism...and sung in the manly and vigorous national style by the 50-piece V. I. Lenin Rolling-Stock Manufacturing Works Traditional Folk Orchestra of Moldavia."

"So, none of that archaic melancholy, I trust?" asks Vinogradov.

"No, Your Most Traditionalness," says Pop. "As per your most folkworthy instructions the people have abandoned all those elements of traditional song which are not consistent with their constant yearning for progress. The songs recorded in the collectivised field include 'As I went out one morning on my tractor', 'When the cuckoo calls me to over-achieve The Five Year Plan', 'The Ballad of Ho Chi Minh'..."

"And are they all in the oral tradition?" asks Vinogradov.

"Most assuredly, Your Folkworthiness," says Pop. "In line with your instructions, they are being handed down from generation to generation even as we speak."

"Excellent," says Vinogradov. "Now, let me introduce you to the alternate comrade delegates representing the progressive discographic companies of London and New York. I think we might make a sale here."


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 12:49 PM

If it's sung by a horse in a Designated Un-Folk Context, then it's probably not folk (unless it is).

And don't track any mud und manure into the house, please.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 12:31 PM

however I am surprised that he suggests Lenin slew millions, he died in 1924., I am sure he[Bearman] is mistaken on this point


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 12:26 PM

excuse me for publishing bearmans letter.An Open Letter to:
The Chief Executive of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (2nd draft)

Dear Madam,

This is an open letter of protest - it will also be published on the Musical Traditions website - about the untruths and disinformation recently fed to the media by your employee Malcolm Taylor, with regard to the radio programme The Seeds of Love broadcast on 26 August and to the article It's time to try Morris Dancing published in the Sunday Telegraph on 10 August.

The major theme of the radio programme was that folk music represented a 'working class' cultural tradition which was appropriated by Cecil Sharp and transferred to another class or classes. The Times's summary of the programme (T2, 26 August, p.29) asked: 'Did he [Sharp] misappropriate a working class culture or reclaim a vanishing tradition? Malcolm Taylor finds out'.

Malcolm Taylor did no such thing, because he only examined one side of the question and ignored the only relevant research, which happens to be my own. In 2000 I published Who were the Folk? The Demography of Cecil Sharp's Somerset Folk Singers (Historical Journal Vol.43 No.3). In that essay I showed that about 30 per cent of Sharp's singers were not 'working class' according to dictionary definitions, and that social mobility operated among them as among any other group of people. Since then, I have extended my researches to cover the work of other folk song collectors and have shown that the main influence on the social composition of folk singers was collecting methods. For example, more than half Sabine Baring-Gould's sources in Devon and Cornwall were not 'working class'. I presented these conclusions in my paper Towards the Social History of Folk Music, given at the conference of the International Ballad Commission at the University of Texas, and to the recent English Folk Song - Cecil Sharp in Context conference.

This is not a matter of two equally valid points of view depending on the same research base. The fact is that I am the only person to have applied large-scale biographical and demographic methods to this question, while the persons allowed to present their views on the programme were relying on assumptions and suppositions which I challenged and discredited. These assumptions and suppositions were politically motivated. The allegation that folk music represents a specifically 'working class' cultural form allows Marxist scholarship to claim the subject for its own and to apply a set of ready-made concepts which derive from their political and cultural theory, such as the doctrines of 'expropriation', the 'invented tradition', and the theory of cultural 'hegemony'. The person most responsible for this interpretation, and for applying it to the work of Cecil Sharp, is David Harker. In Who were the Folk? I began a demolition of Harker's analysis which I completed in Cecil Sharp in Somerset: Some Reflections on the Work of David Harker, in Folklore Vol.113 No.1 (2002). The 'debate' for which Taylor was responsible did not merely ignore my research; it also repeated discredited material.

In both the radio programme and the Sunday Telegraph article, associations were made between Cecil Sharp and the Nazi party, and between the morris dance movement and fascism in more general terms. In the programme, the association was made by V A F Gammon. In the article, the idea appeared to have been fed to the Sunday Telegraph's reporter by Taylor himself. I will deal with Gammon's association presently. The Sunday Telegraph alleged that Sharp had 'leanings towards fascism' which depended partly on guilt by association (because Sharp was an enthusiast of Wagner) and partly on a false quotation. The article alleged that Sharp insisted 'that folk song was a pure. Aryan 'race-product''. Taylor should be forced either to show that Sharp used those words in conjunction with one another, as the article printed them, or to write to the Sunday Telegraph and publish a true quotation with a retraction and an apology. He should also be forced to state precisely what he means by the allegation that Sharp has 'leanings towards fascism' and justify them by direct reference to Sharp's life and work, or acknowledge that the allegation is utterly baseless and publish an apology and retraction.

The association of morris dancing with fascism rests on the allegation of the 'supposedly brownshirt sympathies of prominent figures in the morris-dance revival'. Once again, Taylor should be forced to provide adequate evidence, or to publish an apology and retraction. In this case it would be necessary to prove that 'prominent figures' in the revival - i.e., more than one - either had actually founded organisations or had a major role in their organisation, and had direct links or publicly expressed support for the Nazi party's private army. (This is what the allegation implies). Needless to say, no such proof can be provided: in fact, the assertion rests on allegations made by Georgina Boyes, first in her book The Imagined Village and then in her own contribution to her edited collection Step Change, that Rolf Gardiner was the indirect founder or motivating spirit behind the Morris Ring. Boyes has never been able to produce any evidence for this allegation and it has been refuted again and again, most notably by actual participants in the foundation of the Ring such as Walter Abson. They have shown, not only that Gardiner did not take any part, but that some of the organisers had entirely different political affiliations, such as the Marxist allegiance of Joseph Needham. Indeed, the Editor of the Folk Music Journal recently drew attention to the fact that Boyes had no evidence whatsoever for her allegation and had ignored the many refutations of her association of Gardiner with the Ring, and concluded that: 'it is rare to find a published work which so misrepresents the source material' (Folk Music Journal, Vol.8 No.2, p.369). This is one more instance in which Taylor not only ignored the most authoritative research, but repeated discredited material.

I am a social historian, and if there really was any evidence that Cecil Sharp had 'leanings towards fascism', or that the morris dance revival had drawn on 'supposedly brownshirt sympathies', I would be the first to want them brought to public attention and discussion. Likewise, Taylor, Gammon, and Boyes are entitled to their opinions and are free to express them, within the limits set by scholarly principles and the presumption of innocence. But 'Fascist' and 'Nazi' are common words of abuse, and to accuse a person or a movement of such sympathies is highly perjorative. The very strongest evidence, therefore, is required before such allegations should be made, and in this case the 'evidence' is non-existent or has been disproved in public debate - it is noteworthy, incidentally, that Gammon has never presented any evidence beyond his bare statement that Sharp had ideas in common with the Nazis, and that Boyes has never attempted to answer her critics about Gardiner's supposed influence on the Morris Ring: instead, she has simply repeated her baseless allegations. It follows, I think, that these allegations cannot be made through any intention to engage in serious debate about Cecil Sharp's work and the legacy he left us; rather, the intention of this smearing and mud-slinging seems to be the silencing of Sharp; to shut him up, to deny him a hearing by associating him with political ideas which are not tolerated in the modern world. Taylor, Gammon, and Boyes seem to have despaired of demolishing Sharp's reputation by discrediting his work, and instead attack him on irrelevant personal grounds

There is a further dimension to this question. If it is acceptable to attack a person through the political principles and ideas with which they are associated (even in the most indirect and loose way, as shown by the manner in which Taylor, Gammon, and Boyes have attacked Sharp and the morris dance movement), should not their own political affiliations and sympathies be public knowledge and open to such guilt by association? Gammon's motive for associating Sharp with the Nazi party appears to be the importance he attaches to ideas, and the propensity of ideas for causing human suffering. The first time he made this association was in 1988, in a book review. The relevant passage reads:

    I admire Sharp and his work, but in a different context such ideas formed a cornerstone of a regime that perpetrated untold human suffering, misery, torture, and genocide. Ideas are important. (Folk Music Journal Vol.5, No.4, p.497)

Those words were written the year before the Berlin Wall fell and the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe collapsed with it. Since then, the opening-up of various archives has exposed the full horror of the Leninist and Stalinist regimes, even (one hopes) to those who had denied their crimes before. We know now that where Hitler slew his millions, Lenin and Stalin slew their tens of millions. It is as ridiculous and unfair to blame the ideas of Karl Marx for this untold slaughter as it is to blame the ideas of 'German romanticism' for the Holocaust, but, if people like Gammon and Boyes choose to sling mud through far-fetched political associations, it is fair to point out that a lot of mud can be slung back at them.

Please note that I am not actually saying that Gammon and Boyes are Marxists, but the links between them and Marxist ideas are far, far stronger and more plain than those between Sharp and the Nazis, or those between the morris dance revival and fascism. As I have already pointed out, the starting point for their discredited interpretations is the work of David Harker, a self-declared Trotskyite (Fakesong [1985] pp.256-257). In the course of a whole article devoted to Harker's work in 1986, Gammon described it his treatment of Cecil Sharp and the early folksong movement as 'the beginning of serious scholarly work in this area' (History Workshop Journal No.21, p.147). In his own PhD thesis, he declared himself uncertain whether or not it was a Marxist work. It has be said that, in a letter to the Musical Traditions website earlier this year, Georgina Boyes denied that Harker was the starting-point for her own work, but in a reply (published on the same website) I showed how one of her attacks on Cecil Sharp was clearly derived from Harker and challenged her either to deny this, or produce the independent research on which it was based. And, in any case, it would be an exceptionally innocent and politically unaware reader who did not notice the ideological direction of The Imagined Village. If it is fair to associate Cecil Sharp and morris dancing with fascism and the Nazis through common ideas, and to point out how these ideas were responsible for untold suffering, genocide, etc, it is fair to point out that Gammon and Boyes share Marxist ideas which, at a similar remove, were also responsible for untold suffering, genocide, etc.

These are not solely academic questions. In the Sunday Telegraph article, the reporter alleged that 'an echo of potentially dark associations does survive in the name of Sharp's enduring legacy, the English ... Folk Dance and Song Society', and that the Society's mission statement ('to put English traditions into the hearts and minds of the people of Britain') 'doesn't sound good ... in Blairite Britain'. There is nothing intrinsically 'dark' or disgraceful about England or English traditions: it is only these trumped-up, unprovable, and discredited associations with political causes which make them so, made by people whose own political associations will not bear examination - as I have pointed out. It is foolish to assume that sensational stories about fascist associations do not have repercussions among those who might otherwise consider becoming EFDSS members, or among the great and good who may make important decisions about your funding. In these circumstances, it is utter folly and suicidal stupidity for the EFDSS to allow such politicised smearing and mud-slinging to be perpetrated and assisted by its own staff such as Taylor. Wise birds do not foul their own nests, but that is exactly what you have done by allowing Taylor to make such untrue, stupid, and irresponsible statements. He, and you have brought the folk music movement into disrepute for the sake of your own self-importance and notoriety.

If I was a member of the EFDSS, I would call on you to sack Taylor and submit your own resignation. Like very many others, I am not a member because I have no confidence in an organisation so badly led, and which offers so little value for money. I would restrict my protest to this letter if I had any confidence that you and your organisation would actually do something about it, such as restrict Taylor's access to the media, but I know from past experience that your organisation's reaction to protests about abuses perpetrated by its staff is to allow those responsible to lie their way out of trouble. I am therefore taking the only action open to me, and withdrawing my copyright work from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library as a token of my anger and disgust.

Yours faithfully,

C J Bearman - 5.9.03
Cecil Sharp was a socialist and an ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE FABIAN SOCIETY, so I find it odd that he is described as FASCIST by any body


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 11:43 AM

Where does one really go with this?

Maybe my own fave would be something around for 100 years everyone has learned.

Maybe we can go for sounds we identify, eg to me the Boat Band is classic English dance music, Shaskeen have the good Irish Cayley sound and Jimmy Shand is I'd think everyone's idea of a New Year's Eve in Scotland.

Maybe we can't though. some things sound "foreign" to me and I don't buy the word formula writing ideas.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 11:27 AM

I probably mean genre plus beliefs, so whatever word sums that combination up best.

Cult?


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 10:30 AM

Way to go, Shimrod.

You've gotta love the Mudcat. Where else do people use 'doff'?


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 09:44 AM

Cecil Sharp, a malign grin on his face, strutted into the Conservatoire. He twirled his moustache, doffed his cape and flung his top hat at the hat stand - it missed but was soon picked up by the servile, 'hat-flunky'.

He lowered himself into an armchair and snapped his fingers for another white-jacketed flunky to bring him his favourite tipple - scotch and pauper's blood on the rocks.

Algernon Beastly-Smythe, who was seated in another armchair and reading the Times, looked over his newspaper and said, "What ho, Cecil, you're looking pleased with y'self - what's afoot?"

Cecil said, "Morning, Algie! Y'know how we're always looking for new ways to be beastly to the poor?"

"Oh gosh, rath-err!", said Algie.

"Well I've just come up with a jolly spiffing new scheme", said Cecil.

"Oh do tell!", said Algie.

"Well", said Cecil, "have you ever been to Somerset?"

"Hmmm, Let me think" said Algie, "I might once have shot a peasant in Huish Episcopi ... not sure ...?"

"Well, anyway", said Cecil "I hear that the yokels down there habitually sing lots of old songs ... and I'm going to steal 'em!!"

"What an absolutely marvellous wheeze", said Algie, "why it'll be cultural plunder & imperialistic paternalism at its very worst!"

"Just what I thought!", said Cecil.

"Do it, Cecil!", said Algie "my, you're a cad and no mistake!!"

Their loud, braying laughter echoed through the Conservatoire - punctuated only by the screams of the hat-flunky who they tormented by way of celebration.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 09:23 AM

Cult sounds perjorative, I probably mean genre plus beliefs, so whatever word sums that combination up best.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 09:20 AM

Just listened to the Peggy Seeger programme on the wireless. There wasn't much folk but it was steeped in folk revival, the stance, the sound, the politics. She came close to regret when describing her and MacColl attitude's to folk as uncompromising, perhaps arrogant (if I paraphrased her correctly without listening again).
The more I read and listen the less idea I have what what Folk is, or even if it exists, while becoming increasingly certain about the mores of the revival cult.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 07:12 AM

An academic reconstruction of carefuly seleted elements of a perceived traditional culture motivated according by the ideological absolutes of one man with friends in high places is bound to be a bit wobbly, Shim - hardly an objective methodology anyway, especially given its various fruits. Ultimately I think I'm with GSS on this one, I just wish I could break this habit of reading academic books on Folklore, Song & Music which, excellent though they invaiably are, invariably leave me feeling depressed and ill at ease with the whole thing. Could be one to add to my list of New Year Resolutions...

Of course having my annual Virance Inconvenience doesn't help matters, which kicks of ME flashbacks whilst without the wind howls with rain and hail lashing the windows making it sorely tempting to draw the curtains and immerse myself in comething vintage & horrible by way of DVD entertainment. Or maybe I'll put some of that Cox & Larner documentary up on YouTube for the whole world to enjoy?


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: TheSnail
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 07:09 AM

GUEST at 19 Oct 10 - 05:23 AM was me.

Who keeps eating my cookie?


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:57 AM

OK, the idea that it was cultural plunder & imperialistic paternalism at its very worst has become received wisdom. Doesn't mean it's true.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:37 AM

"Dodgy is an understatement; it was cultural plunder & imperialistic paternalism at its very worst."

More exageration, Suibhne! Exaggeration piled on exaggeration on top of exaggeration. A bit of evidence for your wild assertions might be nice. Still, I suppose that if you keep repeating nonsense - eventually someone, a bit short on critical faculties, may decide that you are talking sense.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:14 AM

JC: Bearman being the prat who tried to get Malcolm Taylor sacked as EFDSS librarian?
No thanks.


So you're going to dismiss without even looking at it a paper critical of Harker just because the author produced an intemperate rant about a BBC programme and a Telegraph article?

People can be personally unappealing yet still produce good research, and Taylor himself has described some of Bearman's work as "the best in the field".

I read both the open letter and the paper and while the open letter was definitely a bit infantile, the paper criticising Harker's work seemed pretty robust. But since you refuse to read it because you consider Bearman a "prat", I guess you'll never know.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 06:10 AM

the idea that there was something dodgy and blood-and-soil-ish about the first folksong revival has become received wisdom.

Dodgy is an understatement; it was cultural plunder & imperialistic paternalism at its very worst.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:55 AM

Oh dear. Bearman vs Harker seems to have been a bit like 1066 and all that's Roundheads and Cavaliers - Right but Repulsive vs Wrong but Wromantic. And it really didn't help that Bearman seemed to want to turn it into Bearman vs the World.

Still, if you wipe off the froth and overstatement, the actual points Bearman was making seem pretty solid, viz. (a) there's no evidence of C# having fascist leanings, and (ii) Rolf Gardiner wasn't involved in setting up the Morris Ring, whereas people with left-wing views were. And these points do matter, because the idea that there was something dodgy and blood-and-soil-ish about the first folksong revival has become received wisdom. We're perpetually disavowing something that probably never existed.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:48 AM

A copy of Fakesong has been sighted, though it's not, as yet, within reach - so, in the offing as it were. No doubt by the time it hoves to I'll be finished The Imagined Village and ready for some light relief, though just this morning I was struck by the term oikotypical which appeals to me greatly.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 05:23 AM

Jack Campin

Bearman being the prat who tried to get Malcolm Taylor sacked as EFDSS librarian?

I found this intriguing so did a bit of Googling and came up with this - An Open Letter (Posts appear in reverse order. Scroll down to Bearman's letter.)

Despite knowing some of the protagonists personally, I had no idea that these erudite versions of Mudcat squabbling were going on.


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 04:06 AM

"I keep referring to Dave Harker's book as 'Fakelore' - Freudian slip maybe?"

It's more likely to be senile decay, Tootler!


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Oct 10 - 07:22 PM

I keep referring to Dave Harker's book as 'Fakelore' - Freudian slip maybe?


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Subject: RE: No, really -- what IS NOT folk music?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Oct 10 - 05:58 PM

Hi, Schweik.

I congratulate you on your dismissal of Chris Bearman's masterly demolition of Harker's critique of Cecil Sharp.

And now, back to my dulcimer. Did you know one can play 'Once in Love with Amy' on a dulcimer in DAA?


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