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Mediation and its definition in folk music

Stanron 19 Feb 20 - 04:12 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Feb 20 - 04:41 AM
Jack Campin 19 Feb 20 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM
Jack Campin 19 Feb 20 - 09:16 AM
Stanron 19 Feb 20 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Feb 20 - 09:47 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Feb 20 - 10:07 AM
Jack Campin 19 Feb 20 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Feb 20 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,Starship 19 Feb 20 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM
Jack Campin 19 Feb 20 - 11:47 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Feb 20 - 12:10 PM
GUEST 19 Feb 20 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 01:59 PM
Stanron 19 Feb 20 - 02:00 PM
Jack Campin 19 Feb 20 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,Starship 19 Feb 20 - 02:43 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Feb 20 - 02:59 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Feb 20 - 03:05 PM
Joe Offer 19 Feb 20 - 03:08 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Feb 20 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 03:46 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Feb 20 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,jag 19 Feb 20 - 04:21 PM
Steve Shaw 19 Feb 20 - 05:52 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Feb 20 - 06:06 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Feb 20 - 07:31 PM
GUEST,Big Al whittle 20 Feb 20 - 01:32 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Feb 20 - 01:52 AM
GUEST,paperback 20 Feb 20 - 02:36 AM
GUEST,jag 20 Feb 20 - 03:27 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Feb 20 - 03:27 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Feb 20 - 06:43 AM
Stanron 20 Feb 20 - 07:09 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Feb 20 - 07:12 AM
Brian Peters 20 Feb 20 - 07:24 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Feb 20 - 07:44 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Feb 20 - 08:18 AM
Jack Campin 20 Feb 20 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,jag 20 Feb 20 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Feb 20 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Feb 20 - 12:42 PM
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Subject: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 04:12 AM

I read, mostly, with interest the thread 'Dave Harker, Fakesong'. I was particularly interested in the use of the word 'mediation'. It's use does not seem to accord with any dictionary definitions that I can find. Is there a definition for the way it is used in Folk music?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 04:41 AM

It's already been introduced in the new thread on source singers
Can I respectfully suggest that, to avoid conflict, you deal with it there
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 07:29 AM

It's not very different from the way Chaucer used it in the 14th century (he was "mediating" astro-navigational theory for a popular audience) though people with a more theoretical bent have used the term for many other purposes - Adorno seems to have started this.

something to get you well and truly confused

The context of Harker's writings (where this started) is VERY much more straightforward.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM

I only had only one more thought for Harker discussion, wasn't going to bother but this is an example of it.

It struck me that writing a book from a very specific philosophical perspective, published on an academic imprint, allowed Harker to avoid explaining a lot of things that underly his approach. Either the reader is supposed to already understand the approach, including the jargon, or they find out about it from the bibliography.

I think that is a cop out as it makes like hard for many people who are experts on (or like me just interested in) his subject matter. I wonder if the other volumes in that 'Popular Music in Britain' books series are like that.

I had a mate who fell in with one of the Marxist groups of the 1970's. His attempts to explain what is was all about involved literature like the abtract to the paper Jack links. I came to the conclusion he didn't understand it either.

Back on topic, I disagree with Jim that this should be in his other discussion. It would be handy to have something specific to refer to (not too often I hope).


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 09:16 AM

There isn't a heck of a lot of explaining required for this particular concept. What Harker is doing is pretty well set out in his previous book, which is not at all technical cultural/political theory once you get past the turgid introduction.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 09:42 AM

I really don't want to get involved with the Jim Carroll show. I'm more interested with the word, and it is fascinating stuff.

Following from Jack Campin's post I get that the subject of the link is not at all straightforward. So I tried looking at Chaucer's words;

http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/glossar.htm

The nearest is 'mediatour' which seems to be an obsolete form of, you guessed it, mediator. Am I right to assume that in the musical context it means 'a person who explains'? Is it that simple?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 09:47 AM

Just to clarify: the thread on singers and their sources states that the term mediation has been used too much in the past, it does not appear to be a thread about mediation or intended to discuss mediation.

To offer a few ideas to Stanron's question:

The use of the term 'mediation' in discourse about folk music pre-dates the work of David Harker. The earliest example I found was, I think, a piece by Vic Gammon, whose supervisor was a historian, so the term seems to have come into discussions of songs and musical practices of the past via history. I think the details are on the Fakesong thread.

The dictionary definition which to me comes closest to the general idea is defn no 2 in the OED: Agency or action as an intermediary.

Harker's introduction explains the way he uses the term. Here is one quotation from it, but to get a better idea of the approach he takes it is probably better to read the introduction and/or the book itself.

'By mediation I mean not just simply the fact that people passed on songs … but that in the very process of so doing their own assumptions, attitudes, likes and dislikes may well have significantly determined what they looked for, accepted and rejected.'

The thread on Harker had some interesting points on mediation and diverged into discussion of the work of various mediators, especially Cecil Sharp.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 10:07 AM

"I really don't want to get involved with the Jim Carroll show."
That's aright - I'll come to you
This is about no-called defintion - the show is by the multi-poster who posts nine-in-a-line (see last examples on closed thread)

"mediation" -is the invented 'wet-dream' of academics who wish to prove that the working people were incapable of making up their own minds about their own culture

Singers continued to learn and fill-out their own songs while they continued to sing - as Walter Pardon proved with 'Dark Arches' a family song his uncle's refused to teach him in full because of its 'dirty' nature
That is not 'mediation' in anybody's description
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 10:19 AM

To repeat Harker's definition:

By mediation I mean not just simply the fact that people passed on songs … but that in the very process of so doing their own assumptions, attitudes, likes and dislikes may well have significantly determined what they looked for, accepted and rejected.

Perfectly straightforward idea and you'd have to be pretty insecure to find it threatening.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM

And very odd indeed to suppose it had anything to do with onanism.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM

Or perhaps I should have said involuntary nocturnal wotsits.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 10:37 AM

They/we looked for folk songs - simple as that, the fact that Sharp defined pretty clearly what he meant by folk songs excuses him from not inclding all the other stuff that was circulating at the time
Harker's "may well" is indicative that it is his assumption and his alone that the collectors own tastes affected what was collected - as he never discussed the songs or the singers he had no grounds for making such a claim
Hoist on his own petard - I think
Later work has proved beyond a shred of doubt that the singers Identified with and took ownership of the songs they and as being 'local' or 'Norfolk' or Scots.... (or wherever they might have originated) tends to vindicate Sharp's decision as being pretty accurate
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 10:46 AM

I think the threat is where the pattern of usage insinuates that the "may well have" could be left out.

In the natural sciences the need to think about sampling bias is so much a given that the word 'collecting' is usually adequate.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 10:48 AM

crossed with Jim


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 11:00 AM

When an outsider enters the picture, the picture changes. Something like the Hawthorne effect in anthropology. The very act of recording someone singing can change how the singer approaches a song and thus presents it. We know that because it happens. People who have recorded songs know that it's a good take so far. Enter that thought and suddenly the singer's BP is up a bit, breathing goes funny and the take ends up being junk only fit for the editing-room floor. Remember the first time you heard your voice after it had been recorded. A majority of people say, "That's not me," or "My voice doesn't sound like that." Intermediaries inevitably affect the material they are recording. It seems to be ubiquitous in all forms of human interaction, and I don't really understand why we'd expect this area of human endeavor to be substantially different. YMMV, and that's cool with me.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM

So why not use the words like 'collecting' and 'editing' and if we have something to say about how they were done then say it.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 11:47 AM

Because the word draws attention to something systematic that can be examined - the ways in which matters personal to the collector might influence what the listening and reading public ends up with. This won't be random noise, they'll be present in everything the collector does, at least at the same time for the same project. For a trivial example, the systematic euphemistic substitutions you see for obscenities.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 12:10 PM

"The very act of recording someone singing"
This depends entirely on the relationship between the singer and collector
We recorded our singers for as long as we could manage
We recorded Walter over twenty years - he became a close friend and I believe what we got from him was 'natural' - we have his the recording he made of himself before he was ever 'discovered' which confirms that belief
We recorded Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy regularly fro, 1975 to his death in 2005 - Mikeen was another family friend , as was Tipperary Traveller, Mary Deleney and Clare singer, Tom Lenihan - all important sources of information on singing styles and functions

One of the things we found fro Mikeen was how some singers altered their singing to suit their particular surroundings - street singing and ballad selling required one approach, singing in noisy pubs, another - singing on the site was entirely different to both - he referred to it as 'fireside style'

Personally, I love singing and sing all the time (often to the annoyance of Pat) but I cannot bear to listen to my recorded voice - I never have
Maccoll once told us that he could not listen to any of his early recordings
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 12:22 PM

"For a trivial example, the systematic euphemistic substitutions you see for obscenities. That is part of editing, which I think is a better word because it is more specific.

I agree the concept is useful as a wider term, especially as 'mediator', but Harker's definition as quoted above only covers the collecting side of things. It doesn't include euphemistic substitutions or selective dissemination for a wider audience.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 12:45 PM

Sorry, 12:22 PM was me. I'll continue

I have no problem with Alfred Williams, Cecil Sharp, Alan Lomax and Jim Carroll being described as mediators in the context of them being between sources and recipients. But in the context of what did or did not get into Sharp's notebooks or onto Jim's tapes - and why - I think 'collector' is a better term because it is more specific to the relevant process.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM

Jag: I'm not clear whether you are suggesting that notebooks and tapes would not be things made by 'mediators' even if these, or selections from them, were then presented to the public?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 01:59 PM

@Pseudonymous. I am suggesting that 'mediator' is a wider term than 'collector' (and 'editor', 'giver of talks on folk music', 'music producer' etc)


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Subject: RE: Mediation and it's definition in folk m
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 02:00 PM

There seems to be two areas of mediation being discussed. The artist (?) mediates between the material and his audience and the collector mediates between the source material and the collectors target audience or recipients.

So is David Harker mediating when he selects material which supports his overall thesis?

When I go to a dictionary for a definition I get a short, precise sentence or maybe a couple of sentences.

In one or two sentences can anyone define 'mediation musical'?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 02:27 PM

So is David Harker mediating when he selects material which supports his overall thesis?

He says in the intro to "One for the Money" that he is trying his best to make his ideological position clear but also to present the facts in a way that is not coloured by that - so that anyone coming after can use his historical account regardless of their intentions. I think he comes reasonably close to achieving that, and his book is certainly the better because he tried to. (His history has a lot of stuff you will almost certainly never have thought of. Did you know that after WW2, because of shortages, people used to return used 78s so the shellac could be recycled when they bought a new one?)

A dictionary will get its descriptions of what words mean from actual usage. Harker's books would be one place they could get their information. There is no point in looking to a dictionary when he's perfectly clear about what his words mean. Playing "yah boo sucks you got the dictionary meaning wrong" over terms of art is just puerile.

You really want a definition based on a translation of Adorno? What use would it be?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 02:43 PM

I was at a second-hand book store years back and it advertised itself as purveyors of the finest literature. Of course, in the process of purveying such literature, someone made a decision as to what qualified as literature. I expect some collectors are 'better' than others, although the meaning of better in that context will likely mean different things to different people, perhaps dependent on what they intend doing with the product or their reason(s) for reading the stuff in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 02:59 PM

Does anyone know what this thread is supposed to be about?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 03:05 PM

Surely the meaning of 'mediation' is crystal clear as expressed above by Jack I think. There is nothing sinister about it. It can be used positively and negatively, even neutrally and can be applied to any musical process. I just can't see any problem and am astounded it is even being discussed.

I also believe it can be applied to a conscious act or an unconscious one but perhaps that is something worth discussing?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 03:08 PM

I certainly think that "mediation" is an appropriate topic for discussion. I think that any time a collector collects, some amount of mediation takes place - that collector is the one who "mediates." It always exists when collecting takes place, but the matter to be discussed is the level of mediation, and the effect that the mediation has.
Certainly a valid topic for discussion.
Jack Campin's definition of mediation above is a pretty good place to start.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 03:12 PM

Kick us off then, Joe. Give us that solid definition. Then it might transpire that those outside this peculiar in-crowd might just know what y'all are talking about...


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 03:46 PM

I don't think it is clear from Jack's quote of Harker because that is not consistant with what Jack said about Chaucer " 'mediating' astro-navigational theory for a popular audience". The quote from Harker only covers the collecting end but in Fakesong Harker seems to include the presentation - which is more like what Jack says Chaucer was doing.

I'm not going to read it again to check but the impression I came away from with Fakesong is that mediation comes up over and over again because a main theme is collecting from the 'prolitariat' and presenting to 'bourgoisie' - the whole process. The mediation is where the faking comes in no "may well have" in the "siginificantly determined."

Which reduces the usefulness of the term and leads people to regarding it as prejudicial or a "threat". And leads to a discussion about something that should be clearer.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 03:52 PM

I'm not fully clear myself whether we are using the term in its widest sense which you only need to go to a cheap dictionary for. Starship's 11 a.m. post covers it pretty well but doesn't cover all the bases. Let us take a simple example of any singer, traditional or otherwise who learns a song. Just that simple process must be to some degree 'mediating' that song in a myriad of possible ways, alter a word, a tone, a length of a note. To some degree that person is changing it, consciously or unconsciously, which is 'mediation'. Similarly a collector, recorder of some information, even using the best recorder in the world, is by taking it from one habitat to another 'mediating' said item, and in other ways as well. As I said it's a matter of opinion whether that might be a negative act or a positive one. If this isn't clear, Steve, please ask any questions, or even challenge what I've written.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 04:21 PM

With apologies if it annoys, but I think this post from Jack Campin is informative

From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:41 AM

I just looked up mediation and related words in the OED. Seems the original mediator was Jesus Christ mediating between God and Man; later applied to the Pope's role; and it is first used in something like Harker's sense by Chaucer, describing his role as a scientific popularizer in his treatise on the astrolabe.



I remembered it when looking at the SOED. None of the definitions really fit.

I am left thinking that in the widest sense it is 'being between' or 'placing oneself between' two parties to convey some information or idea.

Jack quotes Harker "By mediation I mean not just simply the fact that people passed on songs … but that in the very process of so doing their own assumptions, attitudes, likes and dislikes may well have significantly determined what they looked for, accepted and rejected." but I think Harker's actual usage should go on", how they edited it and the way in which they selected from it, presented it or explained it."


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 05:52 PM

Should we just sing songs or play tunes?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 06:06 PM

Starship wrote: "When an outsider enters the picture, the picture changes." I think this is right. This is one thing that makes 'qualitative research', including research into folk and related practices, and even a simple thing like an 'interview', potentially difficult if you aim to find out what other people's worlds are like.

But has mediation happened at this point?

NB Hadn't heard the phrase 'Hawthorne Effect' for ages! But I've used the underlying concept.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Feb 20 - 07:31 PM

"I think this is right"
Why do you make it a poing to totally ignore what is as if they had never been made Pseud - was that part of your training ?
I'm glad I never went to that college
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,Big Al whittle
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 01:32 AM

It appears to be an argument about an argument. the 20 minute argument or the 1954 argument (bystanders ask themselves)....all will be revealed!!


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 01:52 AM

@ Jag. I think I agree with your suggested extension of Harker's definition. Because if the mediator comes between two things then you need the extension to provide the 2nd thing.

Regarding Steve's point: I think you could perhaps say, as Steve does, that a singer mediates a song, but perhaps this only happens when they perform it, or try it out while learning it in the presence of somebody else, as again, there is nothing to create the sense of 'in betweenness'. Does this makes sense?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 02:36 AM

I'm glad I never went to that college

-----

Had you, I'd ask for my money back


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 03:27 AM

I don't think widening the scope to include singer to singer oral transmission or performance for the enjoyment of listeners is useful. Does the cultural studies usage include putting oneself between the song and the listener?

Learning a song of a recording of Harry Cox and singing it at a singaround or as a payed gig is one thing. Choosing what to record from Harry Cox, what to include on an album and what say in the sleeve notes, or singing it as part of a lecture about source singers, is another.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 03:27 AM

"Had you, I'd ask for my money back"
Much preferred the education of the Traveller sites and the West Clare farmyards - and you didn't end up with a massive student's debt hanging round your neck !!!!
They really did know more about these subjects than do many of the self-serving, self-appointed 'experts'
I often wonder what the 'Pop's' Johnny Connors and the Duncan Williamsons would have made of some of this nonsense
Jim Carroll

Two of my favourite analyses of a classic ballad by two masters of their trades:

Edward, (Child 13) What Put The Blood, 'Pop’s ‘ Johnny Connors, Wexford Traveller.

"I heard this song from my grandmother’s uncle again, Johnny Murphy, the brother of Mick Murphy, he’d dead now, both men is dead, they were very old.
My grandmother; well, she’s still living, she’s 106 –
Seems the Murphys, the Gommers, you know, they were tradition, they were poets, undiscovered poets, you know.
J. C. Where did he get it, d’you know?
P. J. God knows where he got it, probably from his great – great grandfather
But the song is anyway… I’d say the song, myself, goes back to.... depicts Cain and Abel in the Bible and where Our Lord said to Cain.... I think this is where the Travellers Curse come from too, because Our Lord says to Cain, “Cain”, says Our Lord, “you have slain your brother, and for this”, says Our Lord, says he, “and for this, be a wanderer and a fugitive on the earth”.
“Not so Lord” says he, “this punishment is too severe, and whoever finds me”, says he, “will slay me, “says he “or harass me”.
“Not so”, says Our Lord, says he, “whoever finds Cain and punishes or slains (sic) Cain, I will punish them sevenfold”.
And I think this is where the Travellers curse come from.
Anyway, the song depicts this, this er....
I call it Cain and Abel anyway; there never was a name for the song, but that what I call it, you know, the depiction of Cain and Abel.”

Dowdled verse
What put the blood on your hands my son?
Son, come tell it unto me..
It’s the blood ofa hare I killed the other day,
And I killed most manfully- ee.
And killed most manfully, idle-ee

That’s too red for the blood of a hare.
Son… etc
Well, it’s the blood of me youngest brother that I killed the other day
And I killed most brutefully - ee.
And I killed…. Etc

What will you do when the Lord comes around?
I will put my foot on board of a ship
And I'll sail to a foreign country - ee.

What will you do with your two fine horses?
I will take the collars all of their necks
And they’ll plough no more for me – ee

What will you do with your fine hounds?
Well I will strip then straps all off their necks
And they’ll run no more for me- ee

What will you do with your two fine children?
I’ll give one to me mammy and the other to me daddy
Sure, they’ll keep them company-ee

What will you do with your fine house and land?
I will it here to the birds all in the air
And they’ll breed in that for they-ee

What will you do with your beautiful wife?
Sure she will put her foot on board of a ship
And she’ll sail along with me-ee

Dowdled line

See ‘12c Henry My Son Pop's Johnny Connors’

Edward, Edward. A Scottish Ballad” (Child 13) Bertrand Harrison Bronson
"Edward” has justly held a place of honor among ballads ever since it was first given to the world, in 1765, in the Reliques of Thomas Percy. For many persons, indeed, it has come to typify the whole category, so that “Edward” is what they think of when the popular ballad is mentioned. Ballad-lovers who wish to win converts are likely to point first to “Edward” as exemplifying more strikingly than any other piece the peculiar merits of this kind of literature. No class in public speaking neglects it; no concert baritone but includes it in his repertory. All this is sufficient testimony to its universal appeal.
Its right to these laurels was confirmed by the great master, Francis James Child. “Edward,” he said, “is not only unimpeachable, but has ever been regarded as one of the noblest and most sterling specimens of the popular ballad


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 06:43 AM

Regarding the question of whether it is 'useful' to use the concept of mediation to refer to interpretations of songs by singers:

Could we consider the possibility that it might actually be a positive thing? I ask this because some people complain that terms like 'tradition bearers' in effect factor out the individual creativity of the singers. I think that his phrase was one of Lloyd's when he was in Sharpian mode as opposed to Marxist mode.

Moreover, terms like 'song carriers' and 'tradition bearers' distract attention from the fact that if the song is old it will have been sung in a variety of very different historical contexts. You do not have to believe in a Marxist or Marxian theory of history as class struggle to agree that this is the case. The song is likely to have meant something different to each of the people who sang it or even discussed it. Changes made to the song may reflect the particular time they were made, or even more personally the attitudes, opinions and values of those making the change.

I think the same applies to the music chosen, as some tunes have acquired particular connotations.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Stanron
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 07:09 AM

@ Steve Shaw and Al Whittle, perhaps I should have made it clearer in the thread title. Thanks, by the way, to whoever completed the missing bit of the word 'music'.

In the 'Dave Harker, Fakesong' thread the word 'Mediation' was used a lot but not as in the standard definition. I tried a number of online dictionaries and my own ancient Collins to see if there was a music or musicology definition but I could find none. So I asked here.

I like words. I particularly like words to have specific meanings. When words have clearly defined meanings I am better able to understand things like wot this thred is all about. Innit?


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 07:12 AM

"Sharpian mode as opposed to Marxist mode."
What a stupid generalism - I take it this is another gem from Harker
Politically, Bert was a very private man - his politics never surfaced in his work with folksong
Epithets like this are really not helpful
You people appear to make it up as you go along
The cliché "class struggle" was typical of Harker's half-digested Trotskyism - he appeared not to know too much about him either
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 07:24 AM

Here’s my take – though I should say that ‘jag’ has been on the money with every post:

Every communicator is a ‘mediator’. Every teacher, journalist, TV presenter, orchestral musician or historian. As a blanket term it’s so non-specific as to be of limited use, so generally it’s reserved for cases such as a go-between in a dispute, while teachers are still called teachers, and so forth. Harker proposed a new definition of the word. The relatively anodyne formulation in his introduction has been posted twice already but, as two posters pointed out immediately, the coy phrase ‘might have been’ doesn’t begin describe what is to follow, and the devil is in the detail of the usage.

Of Scott, Fakesong reports that he “collated, 'patched up', 'made up' “ material, as well as cutting and expurgating verses. In doing this, we are told, Scott “did not deign to notice [workers’ culture], let alone allow its songs and music to appear unmediated.”

Regarding George Gardiner’s collection we read: “This self-censored material, collected according to Sharp's methods, then altered musically for commercial publication after a further filtering and privileging of modal tunes,.represented the highly-mediated product of the dominant cultural values...”

In both of these examples it’s clear that the ‘mediation’ being described is wholesale editing, and that it is being carried out according to a cultural agenda. That’s a long way from the usual sense of ‘mediation’. Although there is an occasional concession to the idea that not all ‘mediators’ were as bad as one another (“In the work of Ritson, too, we see the beginnings of a genuinely scholarly approach to mediation”), the general sense of the word is pejorative. Both Sharp’s and Baring-Gould’s ‘mediations’ are described as ‘doctoring’ with all the implications of falsification and deception that the word implies. And since the entire thrust of the book is the appropriation and misrepresentation of ‘workers’ culture’ by the bourgeoisie, it’s clear that ‘mediation’ in the Harker sense is a Bad Thing.

The word has thus acquired so much baggage that to bring it into any current discussion in our field is to risk ambiguity and controversy. This isn’t helped by the fact that, where Harker felt justified in lumping together Percy, Scott, Child, Sharp and Williams (whose methods and aims were very different), we now find the net spreading further, so that even a modern and meticulous collector like Mike Yates, or a singer who writes a memoir, such as Bob Copper, can find themselves described by a term that might be entirely innocuous on the one hand, or offensively derogatory on the other. The new usage was one of the Big Ideas in Fakesong, but it's now time to move on.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 07:44 AM

I totally agree with our summing up of 'mediation" - a method of communication and passing on, rather than the abusive way it has been misused by Harker and his disciples

"time to move on."
It has been for a while
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 08:18 AM

"When words have clearly defined meanings I am better able to understand things"
Wise words indeed Stan - would that more people applied the same to the term "folk song" (as they once did)
Jim


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 10:08 AM

Harker proposed a new definition of the word

He didn't. If anybody did, it was Adorno back in the 1930s. The term is very widely used in musicology, though no two writers use it in quite the same way. Which is why looking for a dictionary definition is totally pointless.

It's a concept that is extremely useful in understanding how the present klezmer repertoire got to be the way it is, even if the term isn't always used explicitly. Ditto with ANY situation where the music of an "outsider" minority gets adopted by a host culture.
Harker is anything but an oddball.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 12:07 PM

I think Harker was applying the term to the communication/description/invention/imagination/ or whatever (the subtitle of the book uses manufacture) of a music genre rather than individual songs.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 12:23 PM

Harker isn't an oddball at all. He is very bright.

"This isn’t helped by the fact that, where Harker felt justified in lumping together Percy, Scott, Child, Sharp and Williams (whose methods and aims were very different)"

As I said, Harker is very bright, and I feel that it misrepresents the whole book to describe what it attempts and what it does as simply 'lumping together' the people named above. One the contrary, the book sets out to set each person in his context.


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Subject: RE: Mediation and its definition in folk music
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Feb 20 - 12:42 PM

@ Jag, I think I can see what you mean, when you say Harker was trying to outline the development of a music genre. I think you are trying once again to dispel this false idea that the book is about people 'faking' songs which they pass off as coming from the folk (though some people plainly did call 'folk' material which in many senses was anything but).

However, I don't think Harker's focus is on a 'music genre'. To begin with, he isn't much concerned with the music side of things; this is not a musicological analysis. He is interested in ideas and concepts, in the different ways people through time have thought about and written about what people in England and Scotland were doing with music.

More generally, demanding simplistic definitions of complex concepts and then jumping up and down gleefully pointing fingers at people who don't comply with such demands or agree that they are sensible, implying via 'innit' that the demand is so obviously reasonable that only a thicko does not understand it is, put simply, not very clever. IMHO.


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