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What is Happening to our Folk Clubs

Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 03:42 PM
Jackaroodave 31 Oct 17 - 03:05 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 02:45 PM
Jackaroodave 31 Oct 17 - 02:04 PM
Dave the Gnome 31 Oct 17 - 01:45 PM
Jackaroodave 31 Oct 17 - 01:41 PM
Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 01:41 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Underwhelmed Guest 31 Oct 17 - 01:21 PM
Dave the Gnome 31 Oct 17 - 01:19 PM
Jackaroodave 31 Oct 17 - 01:14 PM
Dave the Gnome 31 Oct 17 - 12:40 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM
Steve Shaw 31 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM
The Sandman 31 Oct 17 - 12:11 PM
Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 12:03 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 11:55 AM
Iains 31 Oct 17 - 11:50 AM
Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 11:38 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 11:23 AM
Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 11:18 AM
Dave the Gnome 31 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM
Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM
RTim 31 Oct 17 - 10:34 AM
Big Al Whittle 31 Oct 17 - 10:26 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 10:20 AM
Steve Shaw 31 Oct 17 - 10:06 AM
Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 10:05 AM
Steve Shaw 31 Oct 17 - 10:01 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 09:46 AM
GUEST 31 Oct 17 - 09:17 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 08:54 AM
GUEST 31 Oct 17 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 31 Oct 17 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 31 Oct 17 - 07:40 AM
Steve Shaw 31 Oct 17 - 07:39 AM
Steve Shaw 31 Oct 17 - 07:36 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 07:33 AM
Stanron 31 Oct 17 - 07:27 AM
Iains 31 Oct 17 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Albert's Lion 31 Oct 17 - 07:20 AM
Steve Shaw 31 Oct 17 - 07:16 AM
Iains 31 Oct 17 - 07:01 AM
Steve Shaw 31 Oct 17 - 06:54 AM
Iains 31 Oct 17 - 06:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 31 Oct 17 - 06:09 AM
Dave the Gnome 31 Oct 17 - 06:04 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 05:53 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 17 - 05:51 AM
Raggytash 31 Oct 17 - 05:37 AM
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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 03:42 PM

Oy cloth ears.

I haven't said anything about a definition except for the say, and I'll say this loudly, just for you.

I DON'T NEED A DEFINTION!!

Clear? Have you got that?

Jeeze !!!!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 03:05 PM

'"We generally don't depend on definitions to understand or use words correctly."
We dio if we wish to talk to each other intelligently.'

Jim, I don't mean to be rude, but that is simply not the case. People can talk to one another intelligently who have never heard of definitions.

(And inversely, people using definitions can and do talk to one another incoherently if they rely on different definitions, or if they interpret a shared definition differently.)

'"exclude all non-chairs."
Nobody is suggesting anything like that'

Maybe I wasn't clear: Isn't a definition supposed to distinguish between what a word refers to and what it does not? Shouldn't a definition of "folk song" not only include all folk songs, but exclude non-folk songs? Otherwise, why not "I never heard a horse sing it"? That certainly applies to all folk songs--and a good deal else.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 02:45 PM

I do not think folk songs belong to anyone, Jim"
It ias the product of working people - that is an entire socliam group, not "someone"
The suggestion 'I don't like Mondays' came up quite early in this discussion
That is legally "owned" by Bob Geldof - where does that fit into your "I do not think folk songs belong to anyone"
You are about as consistent as anybody else here.
"We generally don't depend on definitions to understand or use words correctly."
We dio if we wish to talk to each other intelligently.
"exclude all non-chairs."
Nobody is suggesting anything like that
Back to Raggy's "definition" (sic)
"Folk music is not defined, it is a combination of listening and common sense."
That is a nonsense on both counts
It is defined - largely the argument has been whether the definition holds water
My common sense tells me that if I see a club advertised as a music club I go and take pot luck and have a right to expect nothing
If a club calls itself folk, I have a right to expect what it tells me to expect to some degree otr other
AS not a single individual has come up with a workable and agreed description of what I can expect to find in a folk club, I'm stuck with my former understanding - thousands of books on the subject, many hundreds of collections, over a century's research, a number of recordings you could fill St Pauls with to the roof - and thirty years of attending clubs advertised as 'folk'
MacColl was one of the first to set up a club - Peggy's autobiography puts it as 1956
He ran it until just before his death in 1989 - 43 years of consistency
That'll do for me.
If somebody came to me and said they were interested in finding out what folk song was, I could pull several hundred collections or analytical works off our shelves and say - "here' look for yourself"
I could play them many thousands of hours of examples all relating to one another to some degree and say - "here that's what it sounds like"
None of you people can - you can take them to one club and here an eclectic mix of musics, which may include folk song but, given some of the attitudes here, probably wouldn't
Your claim lacks consistency, it lacks proof and it lacks common sense.
You are selling a pig in a rapidly shrinking poke
By trying to please all of the people all of the time you are conning the people all of the time
Your idea of folk song lack logic and it lacks principle - and it's fucked up a folk scene that had all of those things
If it's all right with yuo, I'll stick with Shirley Collins, Ian Campbell and Walter Pardon
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 02:04 PM

"Dave the trainee (I looked it up! :-))"

Just caught that! In my case it's a mondegreen of "ja guru debu" from John Lennon's "Across the Universe," which seemed an appropriate source for an email handle at the time.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 01:45 PM

Indeed Jackaroo. And not all the definitions will match either.

I do not think folk songs belong to anyone, Jim. To paraphrase the great man himself; no man has the right to own folk songs, any more than the deep ocean bed.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 01:41 PM

"I think the 54 definition is irrelevant to this discussion. . . ."

It's not really relevant to the point I was trying to underline: We generally don't depend on definitions to understand or use words correctly.

For example, children learn to use the word "chair" appropriately with ease and often without instruction, but it's very difficult for anyone, even lexicographers, to give a definition of "chair" that would include all chairs and exclude all non-chairs.

So the challenge to provide a definition is an empty one. The knowledge and experience of experts, on the other hand, is of use, and it's entirely possible that their definitions may not match their actual usage.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 01:41 PM

?????????????????????????????


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 01:32 PM

""Folk song belongs the despised and neglected people of the hard-working classes
They deserve to be known"
My grandparents and my mum came from the labouring classes""
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Underwhelmed Guest
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 01:21 PM

I have been unable to find the statement by Shirley Collins.

Any help appreciated.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 01:19 PM

I think the 54 definition is irrelevant to this discussion, Dave the trainee (I looked it up! :-) ) It is OK for academic categorisation but not really suitable for our purposes here. Pretty sure that Jim has said the same and that, at least, is something we can all agree on. I hope!

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 01:14 PM

" Folk music is not defined, it is a combination of listening and common sense. It is what Walter Pardon did and you have applauded him for the same thing. he had no problem in distinguishing between the different genres of song in his repertoire . . . ."

This is an excellent point and extremely well put. If you were utterly ignorant of the corpus of traditional folk songs, would you prefer Walter Pardon or the '54 definition as a guide?

We all use (most) words appropriately (most of the time) without giving a thought to their definition, and this includes highly proficient experts in demanding fields as well as everyday people using everyday words.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 12:40 PM

Raggy has repeated his definition a number of times, Jim, so I am sure he is sick of doing so. That being the case I will repeat it for him. Folk music is not defined, it is a combination of listening and common sense. It is what Walter Pardon did and you have applauded him for the same thing. he had no problem in distinguishing between the different genres of song in his repertoire Neither have I. Neither has Raggy. And, I suspect, no one on here has any problem differentiating. Walter was certainly well versed (pun intended) in folk song, but so are many others. The views of one man do not define folk music.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM

"Like I said, never been fond of religions."
Ans still you neither put forward a rational argument of your own nor respond to anything that has been put up
If you know about folk music - what it it
Simple as that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM

"sycophant shaw"

You're just jealous.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 12:11 PM

I choose my repertoire on the basis of whether i like a song, however I know that audiences who come to see me expect me to sing mainly tradtional repertoire from the geographical British isles., with a few modern songs written in a tradtional idiom
I happen to also like Blues, but I do not think I perform them as well as other songs, so i sometimes sing them at home purely for pleasure, much as i do, traditional songs. THIS IS A REFLECTION OF WHAT HAPPENS IN FOLK CLUBS.,performers cannot avoid getting pigeon holed, but that is always the problem with entering into some form of commercial contract. Nick Dow, has in the past managed to succesfully sing two idioms, blues in pubs and trad material in folk clubs, he is a better man than me Gunga Din


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 12:03 PM

Your "arguments" have been so varied I've been reminded on more than one occasion of the fiasco with real, existing, living, published etc from another poster.

You have not been coherent in what you perceive is an attack on your "religion"

No one here has attacked folk music, we all love folk music, most of us have been involved in folk music for decades, in my case, all my life from my earliest recollection, most of us sing and play folk music, we all listen to folk music.

Then suddenly some jumped up braggart tells us we know SFA about folk music. He knows the true path, he has seen the guiding light, he can lead us all to the true folk heaven.

Like I said, never been fond of religions.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 11:55 AM

Sorry Raggy - we really do have nothing to say to each other
You have not put one alternative to what I suggest - just a string of unqualified insults
I have put up endless arguments - you respond to none - not my offer of examples of what I believe to be good, viable folksong, not the statements by others like Shirley Collins and Ian Campbell (despite it was you who first raised Campbell's name) - nothing
You keep a losely guarded secret what you believe to be folk song and offer only abuse
Anybody who regards commitment to a music "religion" is a dilettante - I don't believe folk song can afford them if it is to survive
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Iains
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 11:50 AM

I do not think anyone is making any sort of attempt to jettison traditional folk. That is an artificial construct in your own mind, Jim.
The dispute is that the 54 defintion is too narrow and you have said folk is dead because it is no longer being created. Your only supporter seems to be sycophant shaw. Or are you going to contradict yourself yet again? You are the only one to describe the Walters of this world as boring old farts. - no one else. Sadly the likes of him are from a milieu that no longer exists. That is why folk from that origin is no longer created. From this it follows that if folk as a genre is still surviving and expanding then the definition needs to change. One door has shut (ever since travellers started watching TV according to you) but most of us here argue that another one has opened. Unless I am missing something the 54 definition puts so many qualifiers in place that the modern world cannot possibly allow for the creation of folk music. I will say this very clearly: I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS VIEW - folk music is still being created.
What is it about this simple concept that generates so much argument?


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 11:38 AM

No it ain't Jim, you talk about the music as if it's a religion, you act like it's a religion, you are as pious about it and you are as zealous about it as any religious nut I have ever met.

No I think I'm pretty safe with saying that with you it's a religion.

Yours is the true way and the light !!!! All other beliefs are heretical.

Jim, don't forget to sing a prayer for all us sinners..........


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 11:23 AM

"I've wondered about Jim's fixation with "the tradition" he has now clearly demonstrated it's his religion."
That is stupid Raggy, really stupid
Why on earth should liking something and believe ing it to be important be a religion
Your constant recourse to insulting convinces me that you7 have no case
""Unlike Many Here." "
The basic argument from many here Tim is that the Walters of this world have had their day and are boring old farts
The latest crassness is that if we don't jettison folk song proper (dishonstly described as '54' -it will die - so if we don't kill it off it will die!!
Can you work that out ?
I'm ****** if I can
I still have to be told what we are to replace it with
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 11:18 AM

I have a seven string guitar Dave, I believe it started life in Russia but unfortunately a yobbo picked the label off the inside on a school trip. The extra string was a Bass.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM

You reminded me, Tim. I did learn a song from my Dad - He always called it The waltz of the bells but I can never be sure that is correct. I have published it on here and elsewhere before and no one else has ever claimed to have heard it before. His story was that he traveled with the Gypsies as a youth for a while in his native Poland. He learned it with them on a 7 string guitar. I have no idea where the extra one fitted in and he also said he played an 11 string - which was like the 7 but with 4 x drone strings above.

Apologies for the poor guitar work as I am no guitarist really but if anyone would like to make sure it progresses in the true folk tradition past my lifetime I would be very grateful :-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM

"I put bits of it up occasionally in the hope some of Walter's message gets through to the unbelievers"

So not only are we not in total agreement with Jim, we're now UNBELIEVERS.

I've wondered about Jim's fixation with "the tradition" he has now clearly demonstrated it's his religion.

And like any zealot believer, his is the true faith, all others are false (gods) and no doubt we will all burn in hell for our sins.

I was never very fond of religion ......... in any form.

Including yours Jim.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: RTim
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 10:34 AM

It is really nice to read Jim's recollections of his time with Walter Pardon - A singer I very much enjoyed and admired also; however - I only have one brief thing to say following this.

Jim says - (I Quote) "Walter was one of the most thoughtful and articulate people on the subject I have ever encountered' he had no problem in distinguishing between the different genres of song in his repertoire, unlike many here."

I have no problem with the statement - except the final 3 words - "Unlike Many Here."
I am sure I can speak for many who would say - I know all about the differences in the types of songs I sing! Why does Jim think I am not capable of that?

I (a working class son of a working class father) am just as happy at any opportunity to sing a traditional song from my home county of Hampshire, followed by a West Indian shanty, then a song written by my son's Godmother, then an old Child Ballad, etc. etc. - That is how I choose an interesting and varied repertoire for performance, and in my experience - that is what listeners want to hear. After all, I do get asked back to sing again...........
I can see no objection to this method of performance - whether it be at a House concert, Festival, Sing around or Folk Club - they are simply venues where you perform!!
I am not sure I know what JIm is really objecting too..........Unless it is the fact that I didn't learn these songs from my father (who was a great singer in his own right) - which is just one of life's accidents.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 10:26 AM

from myown point of view. play by ear, but i learn from whoever, and wherever i can. if iam sufficiently impressed, i will struggle with notation or tab.

hasn't happened much in the last twenty years or so.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 10:20 AM

"I'm sure I've read that last contribution from Jim somewhere else, quite recently in fact."
Not in full you haven't - that's a first for me
I put bits of it up occasionally in the hope some of Walter's message gets through to the unbelievers
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 10:06 AM

That question mark should have been a letter O capped with an accent. Somebody up there won't let me type those and it seems I'm not alone!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 10:05 AM

I'm sure I've read that last contribution from Jim somewhere else, quite recently in fact.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 10:01 AM

Right, Stanron. Yes, that last remark wasn't your finest hour. Learning by ear takes a fair bit of doing but the rewards are manifold. Deciding that that's the right way to learn is the very opposite of lazy. Of the chaps in my session, only one, a relative newcomer, was ever conversant enough to learn tunes from notation. It was always pretty obvious when he had and a contrasting breath of fresh air when he picked tunes up by ear from the rest of us. Learning a tune by ear helps you to be collaborative, flexible and immune from saying things such as "that's the wrong version" or "why are you playing it that way?" You also learn far more organically how to ornament and how to get lift into a tune, things that no tune book can tell you.

As for learning from recordings, of course that happens a lot and, relatively speaking, there's no harm in it as long as you listen to different versions on different records. Recordings are not all the same. Slick, highly-produced recordings with every blemish removed are of little value for learning from, but in traditional music there are plenty of scratchy old live, or single-take, recordings that are invaluable, and, sound quality permitting, usually a lot more enjoyable. One or two more modern live recordings are great too. One of my favourites, which Michael Gill put me on to, is Ego Trip, a solo fiddle album by MacDara ? Raghallaigh. I gave up buying new-release "folk" CDs years ago. They are mostly pretty boring after two or three listens. It's also great to record your own session in order to catch the tunes.

The Carolan book you refer to is replete with idiosyncrasies that render it of limited value, certainly for learning tunes from, unless you want to get people scratching their heads. I gave my copy away years ago. Likewise with my copy of O'Neill's, a waste of money. The good ol' folk process has gone to town on it.

All in m'humble, of course.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 09:46 AM

It occurs to me that one of the great contributors to our enjoyment of folk song should have a say in all this - this may take some time - apologies in advance
Walter Pardon was born in 1914 into a family of mainly agricultural workers employed on local farms, he was an only child and was brought up in a household made up of his parents and two elderly uncles, all singers, the most notable one being his Uncle, Billy Gee
He spent his time at home in the company of the old men, in a mobile shepherds hut used as a shed, where they would sing him songs as long as he would listen, Walter was the only one they would give their songs to.
The only time he heard them sing outside the bounds of the family was at Agricultural Workers Union Meetings, through te window because he wasn't allowed in
They had learned their songs in the latter half of the nineteenth century, if they had any 'modern' ones, they never sang them to him
Walter's only contact with a wider singing tradition was as a child, when he attended a couple of 'Harvest Suppers' at the farm where the family worked
When the farm closed, the only singing was at home, at Christmas and family birthdays, it was the only place Walter ever sang publicly, 'The Dark Eyed Sailor' because "nobody else wanted that".
He described to us how he and his contemporaries, cousins, parted company in musical taste in the 20s and 30s when they went for the modern stuff and he still stuck to the "old folk songs" (his term, which he probably picked up from equating the family songs with what was taught as school through the Sharp, 'Folksongs for Schools project'

When Walter returned from the army in 1946 both his uncles had died, so he set about gathering his family songs in a couple of hard-backed exercise books, we have them here, dated 1946 and 1947.
Although Walter knew many dozens of music hall songs, Victorian parlour ballads and popular songs of the day, tanks to his Dyson-like memory, none were include in the books
He went around various family members piecing the songs together and he memorised the tunes on an old melodeon, the condition of which probably accounts for his unique tunes.
After his parents died he lived alone in the family home playing the tunes and singing the songs to himself right up to the 1970s when a nephew, Roger Dixon, who was Peter Bellamy's tutor in college, persuaded him to put them down on tape, he bought a tape recorder and did so, the rest is history.
WE have the tape he made archived here, some of his best songs along with a hilarious story from him of how he made it.

Walter later filled in texts of the parts of songs he had gathered with the help of various friends in the revival.
In all Walter had around 120 folk songs and broadsides, he could have added dozens of music hall, Victorian and early pop songs to that list, but was reluctant to do so, he didn't rate them as folk or important
The last song he pieced together from memory was
'The Steam Arm' a music hall piece he had learned from local man, Harry Sexton, who had picked it up in a Middlesbrough Music Hall   
He was a Hardy nut and took 'The Tramp-woman's Tragedy' and put a tune to it

Walter was one of the most thoughtful and articulate people on the subject I have ever encountered' he had no problem in distinguishing between the different genres of song in his repertoire, unlike many here.
These ate some of some of the opinions we recorded from him, he gave us many more, sitting in his kitchen over twenty years that we never recorded
Walter was not unique among the old singers we met, but he was the most articulate
All these excepts are from an article Pat and I wrote for a festschrift to our late friend, Tom Munnelly
We entitled it, 'A Simple Countryman', in response to a response by a well-known folkie who told us that he must have been 'got at' because he was only "a simple.."

On folk clubs:
"I had a vague idea they had folk clubs of some description: all these doctors, solicitors etcetera, would go and sing in someone's big house. I never realised, you see, working people done that, never knew a single thing about it".

Walter took to the folk clubs like a duck to water and the clubs took to him with the same enthusiasm

Walter maintained that a good imagination was essential to the singer and felt that his singing had matured in this respect since his first public performances:

....put more expression in probably; I think so. Well, you take these, what we call the old type... the old folk song, they're not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, There's a lot of difference in them; it all depend what and how you're singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are....... well, if there's a sad old song you don't go through that very quick; UP TO THE RIGS is the opposite way about.
I mean, we must put expression in, you can't sing them all alike. Well, most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is, you put the expression in or that's not worth hearing; well, that's what I think anyhow."

Walter's always thoughtful evaluation of songs was interesting. He said that, if he performed before a big crowd, he liked to sing THE PRETTY PLOUGHBOY: "because it ends happily; so many ended with being transported or shot or something going wrong; like VAN DIEMAN'S LAND - a sad old song". He also said it "was a long old song but it was a long old journey", an indication of the strength of his sympathy and identification with the story.

J. C.    When you're singing in a club or at a festival, what do you see when you're singing?
W. P.   Actually what I'm singing about; like reading a book. You can always imagine you can see what's happening there; you might as well not read it.
P. M.   How do you see it, as a moving thing or as a..?
W. P.   That's right. The pretty ploughboy was always ploughing in the fields over there; that's where that was supposed to be.
J. C.    How about VAN DIEMAN'S LAND?
W. P. Well, that's sort of imagination what that was really like; I mean, Warwickshire; going across, you know, to Australia; seeing them chained to a harrow and plough and that sort of thing; chained hand-to-hand, all that. You must have imagination to see, I think so.            
That's the same as reading a book: you must have imagination to see where that is, I think so; well I do anyhow.
P. M.   But you never shut your eyes when you're singing, do you?
W. P.   No, no.
P. M.   So if you haven't got a microphone to concentrate on; if you're singing in front of an audience, where do you look?
W. P.   Down my nose, like that!

Walter's ability to differentiate between the various types of song in his repertoire belied the popular perception of the traditional singer as being totally non-discriminatory. This is how he explained how he judged the age of his tunes with the aid of his accordeon:

.....Well yes, because there's a difference in the types of the music, that's another point. You can tell VAN DIEMAN'S LAND is fairly old by the sound, the music, and IRISH MOLLY and MARBLE ARCH is shortened up; they shortened them in the Victorian times. And so they did more so in the Edwardian times. Some songs then, you'd hardly start before you'd finish, you see; you'd only a four line verse, two verses and a four line chorus and that'd finish. You'd get that done in half a minute; and the music wasn't as good. Yes, the style has altered. You can nearly tell by THE BROOMFIELD HILL, that's an old tune; THE TREES THEY DO GROW HIGH, you can tell, and GENERALS ALL.
Nine times out of ten, I can get an old fashioned ten keyed accordion, German tuned, you can nearly tell what is an old song. Of course, that doesn't matter what modern songs there is, the bellows always close when that finish, like that. And you go right back to the beginning of the nineteenth and eighteenth [century], they finish this way, pulled out, look. You take notice how GENERALS ALL, that got an old style of finishing, so have THE TREES THEY DO GROW HIGH, so have THE GALLANT SEA FIGHT, in other words, A SHIP TO OLD ENGLAND CAME, that is the title, THE GALLANT SEA FIGHT. You can tell they're old by the drawn out note at the finish. Well, a lot of them you'll find, what date back years and years, there's a difference in the style of writing the music. Like up into Victorian times, you've got OLD BROWN'S DAUGHTER; well that style started altering, they started shortening the songs up, everything shortened up, faster and quicker, and the more new they get, the more faster they get, the styles alter. I think you'll find if you check on that, that's right".

Hope this isn't too long; it probably is, but when it comes to Walter, I'm, always reluctant to leave anything out
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 09:17 AM

> "I can't decide whether to cry, laugh or just sit back with some
> popcorn..."
> Why not either join in or go away and leave us children to play

I don't feel qualified to contribute - my relationship to folk music in general, and folk clubs in particular, is fairly remote at the moment. I just enjoy dropping into Mudcat from time to time, and wondered what this enormous thread was about.

In addition, I'm not sure I even fully comprehend the nature of the debate at this stage of its ongoing dissolution, so it would be bl**dy hard for me to join in.

> I can never understand why those who don't wish to participate
> object to those who do

What on earth made you think I was objecting? I'm quite enjoying it in a "bread and circuses" way...


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 08:54 AM

Not really that au fe with Cohen, but I'll take your word for it
Shoals of Herring is far from faux-Hebridean
The text is based largely on interviews with Sam Larner and the tune' like that of Freeborn Man, was made by kicking around Gavin Greig's version of 'Famous Flower of Serving Men' (Child 106)
It was a rune he used over and over again in his songmaking

'First Time Ever' was an oddity, composed in a hurry over the phone when Peggy was in the States and needed a modern love song for a concert she was performing at - I'm not over-fond of it either
It lay dormant for nearly twenty years before it made them their fortune - Peggy always expected 'Dirty Old Town' to be the money-spinner - it never was.

MacColl did experiment with other forms; some of the John Axon music was pure Jazz and the 'Cabin Boy sequence in Singing the Fishing was delicious Gilbert and Sullivan, but in the main, most of his songs were consistently English, Scots and Irish traditionally based
His pre-epitaph, 'Joy of Living' was a direct lift from a Sicilian folk tune - we have the original here somewhere

"I can't decide whether to cry, laugh or just sit back with some popcorn..."
Why not either join in or go away and leave us children to play
I can never understand why those who don't wish to participate object to those who do
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 08:41 AM

"Anyone who only learns to play by ear today leaves themselves open to accusations of laziness."
Stupidest comment in this thread, and that's saying something.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:45 AM

like the songs of MacColl and Leonard Cohen
A further complication
One draws its inspiration from traditional song - one does not.


I don't think there's much difference. Cohen used an idiom based on French chanson (which has a folk underpinning) and apart from a few gestures towards rock&roll, stuck to it. MacColl ranged more widely, from "Shoals of Herring", which is faux-Hebridean, to "The First Time Ever", which is somewhere in between Jerome Kern and Steven Sondheim (I don't like it and I don't much like Sondheim either). As a music-theatre composer he had to be a stylistic magpie.

At any rate, the singer-songwriter genre is not defined by stylistic features, but by social ones - who performs it, where and when, under whose auspices, and who for.

(And thanks for starting to make an effort with the whitespace).


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:40 AM

I can't decide whether to cry, laugh or just sit back with some popcorn...


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:39 AM

I have to dash off, Stanron, but I'll respond to that later. It's an important topic and, given the disagreements being aired about that confounded definition, it's germane to the discussion.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:36 AM

It's a discussion forum and I'm not only not agreeing with you, I'm questioning your credentials, going from the poor quality of your contributions in this thread. As I said, it appears that you don't know what you're talking about. No comment on that so far and I'm not expecting one. As for spoiling for a fight, how about this from you a little earlier today:

"The only corpse I celebrate is the narrow defintion exemplified by shaw and carroll. although Jim's opinions seem to change with the phases of the moon and state of the tides."

Consistency dictates that either "shaw and carroll" should be "Shaw and Carroll" or that "Jim" should be "jim." You are routinely discourteous in the way you address people you disagree with (and who appear to know a lot more than you do). And you accuse ME of spoiling for a fight. Fine.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:33 AM

"and the revival is doomed to be swamped under a flood of Americana"
Who mentioning Americana - we won that war thirty odd years ago
"My opinion is that folk music today originates from a far wider base than travellers "
Since when have the British people or the rural working classes been Travellers
New one on me
"1954 definition of folk artificially restrict it "
There you go again - you said it was me keeps bringing up the definition
Maggie's man speaks with forked tongue
The best aspects of all cultures are those which learn to learn aspects of past practices - successes and failures and use the information to inform modern creation
Once we forget where we come from we lose all the benefits of what we have learned from the past
For some of us, listening to a twenty-verse, centuries old ballad is as enjoyable as listening to three minute pop song that will dissipate after the first belch - like an American Chinese meal
You are condemning an entire genre of song on the basis of your own tastes and ignorance
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Stanron
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:27 AM

I took 15 years or so off from playing guitar and singing, in order to play mandolin and then fiddle in tune sessions around Manchester UK. I learned loads of tunes by ear. I also learned to read music and learned loads of tunes from books. Allen's was the first and O'Neils next. Donal O'Sullivan wrote a well referenced life of Carolan which included all the tunes he composed and other tunes attributed to him. I first got this from a library and was later able to buy it online.

Now there are loads and loads of tunes available on line. The Session.org has a tunes section in ABC which can display the tunes in notation. If I have this right, Jack Campin has a web site with a large ABC collection of tunes freely available.

I suspect that lots of players at Steve Shaw's sessions also learned from books and from online. And from vinyl, mp3s and CDs too. Anyone who only learns to play by ear today leaves themselves open to accusations of laziness.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Iains
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:20 AM

I know you are spoiling for a fight shaw. Keep it below the line there's a good boy!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Albert's Lion
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:20 AM

From Nick Dow - "Just a thought Jim. If it is all so hopeless, and the revival is doomed to be swamped under a flood of Americana, and your contemporaries have given up in despair, and nobody respects British traditional music and song, and the clubs have lost their way, and your field recordings are locked away in a library and your efforts were treated with contempt and you are too old to be pissing against the wind and the importance of the music is ignored in our culture and those who believe otherwise are fighting a hopeless rear-guard action and todays folk scene drove away more than it retained and we can not come up with a workable definition of Folk song and you are tired of the abuse and the English club scene can not find it's arse with two hands and god knows what else, could you please answer me one question. It's a very simple question. Why the bloody hell are you bothering to post on Mudcat at all?"

Mudcat so needs a like button!!
I've just wasted nearly two hours of my morning and have forgotten now what it was I was looking for on Mudcat! I also now have to decide which of three sessions I might go to tonight - the so called Irish Session (so called because it's in West Wales - sesiwn might be better) with breakneck fiddling, mandolins and melodeons in a packed pub; the eclectic sing around where anything goes but with quite a bit of singer-songwriter angst and no audience or the 'almost secret' one with tunes played at the 'correct' speed and songs which might include unaccompanied traditional singers or a past totp big name with an autoharp and a liking for blue grass and gospel (despite being a committed atheist) in a welcoming pub for locals. Then there's tomorrow and a singaround, another on Thursday in a different local village and Saturday (in a micro brewery) but Friday I'll be playing trad jazz with my local New Orleans style band. It really is shocking the decline in Folk Clubs around these parts.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:16 AM

Then express yourself more clearly. We haven't all got all day to decipher your dense thinking.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Iains
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 07:01 AM

Congratulations Shaw you have carefully managed to misinterpret everything I have said. As Martin said to his man...........
Have you changed your name to Jim perchance?


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 06:54 AM

1. Aural/oral: I know hundreds of tunes, four figures-worth maybe, and I learned every one of them by ear, starting in about 1990, 36 years after the definition you hate.

2. Carolan's tunes have been played in every session we had over twenty years. At least ten or twelve of them very frequently. All picked up by ear by a diverse bunch of blokes with varied "versions." If you really think that Carolan's tunes are fossilised, you clearly haven't heard any played in sessions or even on recordings, which are just as diverse as session "versions."

You give every impression here that you haven't a clue as to what you're talking about. Well some of us have been singing/playing this music for decades and we DO occasionally know what we're talking about. Could be that you know this music from your CD collection only. That's how you come across.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Iains
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 06:37 AM

My opinion is that folk music today originates from a far wider base than travellers and that the artificial constraints of the 1954 definition of folk artificially restrict it and deny that the process is alive and kicking.

1)From 1954: "Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission."
If that process still occurs in the digital age then the moon is made of green cheese. To believe that process is an integral part of modern folk creation wipes out a vast body of modern work.

2)From 1954: "The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community."
I can only say to the above:"get real! Who lives in electronic isolation today in the western world?

3)from 1954:"The factors that shape the tradition are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives. In a multicultural world of constant movement how on earth do the criteria above apply? Community implies a degree of stability that probably no longer applies in many places. Who actually lives in their birthplace today?

4)From 1954:"The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning the re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk-character". I am afraid I totally disagree with the above constraint. That eradicates Turlough O'Carolan,for a start, and how much of his music is played in sessions?
   I believe folk is alive and well and constantly evolving(as I have stated before) The only corpse I celebrate is the narrow defintion exemplified by shaw and carroll. although Jim's opinions seem to change with the phases of the moon and state of the tides. But if anyone else wishes to misquote me to score a dubious point, feel free. Rest assured I could not care less.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 06:09 AM

'The last few English folk clubs I went to tolerated Cliff Richards and Buddy Holly numbers badly performed (one read from a crib-sheet)'

nowt worse in my opinion than a roomful of folkies 'tolerating' the intolerable. in truth, do they really tolerate?
I admit they generally refrain from acts of violence, loud execrations, throwing ordure.....however, its not really toleration in any meaningful sense.

more sort of sublimated hatred.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 06:04 AM

I say the clubs are fucked up, not the music is dead

Ah, I think I understand now. What I am still unsure about is, if the clubs are 'fucked up' but the music still lives, where is the music now being played? As a follow up question, if it is not being played in folk clubs, which are after all only a phenomenon post mid-50's-ish, why does it matter so much if folk clubs are, in your opinion, 'fucked up'?

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 05:53 AM

"Where's the beef?"
Between Iain's ears, I would guess
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 05:51 AM

"You are the one saying the medium is dead and then turn around and say the opposite. "
I say the clubs are fucked up, not the music is dead
That is the whole point of this argument - do try to keep up
I did say that th oral tradition as a living entity was dead, but that's a different thing altogether - Shakespeare's long dead but his work lives on and thrives
"You are the one worrying the 1954 defintion to death, not me"
No I am not - I dexscribed it as a rough guide and have never at any time applied it to what happens or should happen at clubs - that is down to you and yours
If you didn't mention it - who wrore "but if you accept the rigid defintion of 1954 then folk music is no longer being created - you are merely worrying a corpse"?
You people are still failing to produce this redefinition we are supposed to accept - are you saving that one till Christmas for under the tree?
Can we clear up this thing about boring - there is nothing more boring than a pop song - - not just to those who don't particularly like 'em, but to the followers of pop
Many of the songs that continue to give me pleasure are centuries old
All pop songs come with a short shelf-life - that is how the music industry operates
Kids will listen to songs for a few months, become bored with them, throw them away and look for something new
Mention a song that was popular a few years ago and you might be talking Elizabethan Sonnets.
Now and then, the industry runs out of ideas and will dig out something that passed its sell by date and put it up again - the Beatles is typical of this happening
I find myself singing my way through songs I was weaned on being played on tele - advertising everything from soap to sanitary pads.
The last few English folk clubs I went to tolerated Cliff Richards and Buddy Holly numbers badly performed (one read from a crib-sheet)
How relevant is that to today's world?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 31 Oct 17 - 05:37 AM

Sorry !! ????

"Jim said that he was delighted to read Iains' opinion. Where's the beef?"

What Jim actually said was:

"People like Iain's would destroy any chances of that ever happening by reading the last rites over a living and very relevant entity. I'm delighted he has said what he has - his personal dislike speaks for others - here and elsewhere"

No quite that he was delighted to read his opinion at all.


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