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The future of folk music in a post-Covid

Steve Gardham 03 Jun 20 - 07:58 AM
JHW 03 Jun 20 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,crumbly 02 Jun 20 - 04:42 AM
punkfolkrocker 31 May 20 - 04:22 PM
GUEST 31 May 20 - 03:15 PM
punkfolkrocker 31 May 20 - 12:33 PM
The Sandman 31 May 20 - 07:04 AM
GUEST 31 May 20 - 05:33 AM
Joe G 31 May 20 - 05:19 AM
Jack Campin 31 May 20 - 12:34 AM
Joe G 30 May 20 - 07:52 PM
punkfolkrocker 30 May 20 - 07:47 PM
punkfolkrocker 30 May 20 - 04:11 PM
GUEST 30 May 20 - 04:03 PM
punkfolkrocker 30 May 20 - 03:09 PM
punkfolkrocker 30 May 20 - 03:07 PM
GUEST 30 May 20 - 03:02 PM
The Sandman 29 May 20 - 02:52 AM
Jack Campin 28 May 20 - 05:24 PM
Steve Gardham 28 May 20 - 03:44 PM
punkfolkrocker 28 May 20 - 11:26 AM
The Sandman 28 May 20 - 10:54 AM
Steve Gardham 28 May 20 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,talented guest 28 May 20 - 09:23 AM
The Sandman 28 May 20 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,talented guest 28 May 20 - 05:43 AM
The Sandman 28 May 20 - 05:04 AM
Jack Campin 27 May 20 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 27 May 20 - 06:32 PM
Steve Gardham 27 May 20 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,talented guest 27 May 20 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 27 May 20 - 08:55 AM
GUEST 27 May 20 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 27 May 20 - 07:41 AM
GUEST 27 May 20 - 04:57 AM
The Sandman 26 May 20 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,Peter 26 May 20 - 02:08 PM
Joe Offer 26 May 20 - 12:00 PM
punkfolkrocker 26 May 20 - 10:45 AM
The Sandman 26 May 20 - 08:25 AM
GUEST 26 May 20 - 07:32 AM
The Sandman 26 May 20 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 26 May 20 - 05:21 AM
The Sandman 25 May 20 - 04:27 PM
punkfolkrocker 25 May 20 - 02:31 PM
Stilly River Sage 25 May 20 - 12:47 PM
Raggytash 25 May 20 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 25 May 20 - 11:20 AM
punkfolkrocker 25 May 20 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Nemisis 25 May 20 - 10:10 AM
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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jun 20 - 07:58 AM

Not so JHW. People my age (70s) are embracing Zoom and putting videos on YouTube in large numbers. I'm absolutely certain that if we ever get round to losing the Covid threat, all of the old ways will restart alongside all the new ways of online communication. Both have many advantages. You are right we won't have to worry about what happens when we pop our clogs but many of us want to leave a decent legacy behind us so that things will continue and improve after we've gone.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: JHW
Date: 03 Jun 20 - 06:53 AM

Too much to read here but "the future belongs to the young. Post Covid or otherwise. Us old fogies are too set in our ways for any radical change. I accept change is not always for the best but it is change or die as far as live folk (or most other) music is concerned."

Perhaps a consolation for being old is that we won't be here when todays youth reign supreme, the place will be littered with cans and pizza boxes and we won't have to worry about it. Nor the absence of folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,crumbly
Date: 02 Jun 20 - 04:42 AM

The future of folk music after Covid should be enhanced by what has gone before, but surely lies in people themselves rather than all the technology mentioned here.

The future is not Zoom 2.0, or I hope so anyway.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 31 May 20 - 04:22 PM

Someone's got bonnet full of resentful bees, and hostile misconceptions...

Funnily enough, the future don't care what you think or do,
and may never even miss you when you're long gone
to narrow minded old folkie heaven...


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 20 - 03:15 PM

Maybe shouty guest has better things to do than worry about kbps latency Voips & suchlike crap- like sitting in the sun and growing veg rather than issuing ignorant abuse- maybe he/she doesn't give a f... for your Music Technology & just likes to sing his/her songs rather than all your computer one-upmanship?


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 31 May 20 - 12:33 PM

So if it's the same anonymous loud mouthed GUEST as last night,
this blatant ignorance about latency is clear admission
of pompously SHOUTING UNINFORMED OPINIONATED bollocks...

This GUEST should keep gob shut on matters of the future of Music Technology relating to folk music;
while reading up and watching youtube tutorials on the subject...

Somehow doubt that'll happen, though...


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 May 20 - 07:04 AM

latencing with intent


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 20 - 05:33 AM

wtf is latency- sounds like a crime to me


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Joe G
Date: 31 May 20 - 05:19 AM

Ah latency rather than sound quality - in that case shouty GUEST's comment makes sense


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 May 20 - 12:34 AM

The sound quality of a VoIP link will be better, but nothing can beat dialup for latency. And if you're trying to play along with sonejody, that matters more.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Joe G
Date: 30 May 20 - 07:52 PM

Presumably guest doesn't know how to connect his PC to his hifi - or plug his headphones in to the sound card!


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 May 20 - 07:47 PM

But it sounds like you are still listening to 96 kbps mp3s on dial-up modem...!!!???


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 May 20 - 04:11 PM

BT...


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 20 - 04:03 PM

you must have a crap phone!


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 May 20 - 03:09 PM

.. unless maybe your 'average' PC is over 30 to 40 years old...???


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 May 20 - 03:07 PM

NO YOU WON'T


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 20 - 03:02 PM

YOU'LL GET MUCH BETTER SOUND DOWN A LANDLINE THAN VIA THE AVERAGE PC


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 02:52 AM

I have been spendin 58 minutes every other day with another singer, swapping songs down a landline. songs are about listening, the old fashioned landline does the job fine for me,i enjoy listening to one quality singer singing trad songs,rather than zoomimg and getting 50 per cent good, if i am lucky, for me going out playing music is also about face to face REAL socialiSIng, BUT IF I WANT TO IMPROVE I LISTEN ONLINE TO SPECIFIC PERFORMERS,in my case.. such as Seamus Creagh


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 20 - 05:24 PM

Something I'm thinking about for while lockdown goes on: learn to play with a loop station. (I detest recording and anything that resembles a phone call, so even if Zoom was less crap I'd still hate it).

Recommendations?

I want this to be utterly minimal. Needs to work with an ordinary lapel microphone (i have a shoeboxful) and play through a domestic hi-fi (or maybe computer speakers). No pre-amp or computer interface. Operated by a few foot buttons. Might be nice if I could feed it drone sounds off a CD Walkman or my grooves off my pocket Korg Kaissilator, but not essential.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 May 20 - 03:44 PM

I am taking part in Zooming purely at the moment as an observer. Our local singarounds are Zooming away and there are plenty of others I've come across. I like to have the opportunity to accompany others so I prefer the real thing, but TSF have just started an international Zooming forum and whilst I'm only a spectator I'm looking to get a webcam and get involved. I can see the Zooming continuing as we get back to meeting up and then the 2 running side by side.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 28 May 20 - 11:26 AM

Like it or not, youtube and other similar audiovisual internet media sites
are amply demonstrating that the future is already happening..
and has been for some time...

The technology needs improving over the next few years,
and we can be fairly certain such positive progress is inevitable...

I'm one of the folkies who has never had any interest in folk clubs,
so I've no entrenched vested interests standing in the way of new ideas...


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 May 20 - 10:54 AM

Anway Steve, what i have said is not a critism of the uk folk revival, more a concern and a wish to see it thrive more and fair play to people like yourself who make it happen


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 May 20 - 10:21 AM

Dick, you seem to be missing the reality that only in short bursts does English media and authority recognise our folk culture. This has been the case for centuries. Irish, Scottish, Welsh have always shown a much greater interest in their culture mainly to assert their separation from the dominant neighbour. A little progress is made now and then, but any assertion of Englishness is nowadays seen as nationalism and in fact anti-globalism, and many of us are wary of being appropriated by the far right. Tourism also has something to do with this. English tourism largely relies on scenery, stately homes and more elite culture. Its folk culture is made very little of. We would all like a fairer slice of the public funding but with the current regimes this is highly unlikely.

Which is why we just get on with it, provide our own funding and run lots of free events.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,talented guest
Date: 28 May 20 - 09:23 AM

Sorry Sandman- I meant POST war re the Woodcraft folk- there were folk camps before the war, though, it isn't a new idea but may be relevant again soon.
Re media coverage of folk music- anyone who has a pc, internet radio or smartphone can now listen to any station anywhere!
It may be that the Irish scene you mention has benefited from good media coverage in the past, but I can listen to your Irish stations anytime I like so maybe there's no difference now?

Also I think you seriously underestimate the number of song/music gatherings in England these days- Sussex & Gloucestershire spring to mind among others


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 May 20 - 07:01 AM

well i have only heard about folk camps apparantly 21st century, but the woodrcaft folk were post war, i went in the late fifties early sixties, the BBC did have a programme in the 1960s called hold down a chord which was influential.
However what i stated earlier was that radio coverage was more extensive, particularly radio na gaelchta[which is susidised and presents trad music in a non commercial way] and that this has been partly rsponsible for the relatively flourishing grassroots of the music.
of course because irish musicians were forced to emigrate in the 20th century this has strengthened the grassroots trad music particularly in cities, alot of this took place in pubs, this may or may not be a problem n the immediate futre.
northumberland in my opinion it is an english exception, there was also southern english style in then isolated o places in the 1980s east anglia and devon. I Lived there then, i did not think it was as strong in east anglia as northumberland, but you are a better judge, if you dont think more sympathetic and extensive media coverage would help., fair enough but i think you do


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,talented guest
Date: 28 May 20 - 05:43 AM

The division of the music has been ongoing for some years now, with huge growth on one side of informal song and music sessions all over England. It seems like every village in Northumberland has a 'trad' session these days (pre-virus, of course), but not only there, much further south as well.
Sandman, you have often praised the financial help and exposure given to young Irish musicians, and you say the Irish 'roots' scene thrives?

You've also often bemoaned the parallel lack of help in England? However, all this informal music in England has happened without such help, indeed the sessions are sometimes the subject of varying degrees of ridicule from the public, and the BBC is only now realising that there may be something worthwhile about folk music, even if their efforts are pretty wooden & uninspired up to now.
Your idea of folk camps sounds a bit like the pre-war Woodcraft Folk events & may be a possible step forward- especially for socialists with little spending power?
At the very least, it's a positive idea for a future where folky social gatherings like clubs and festivals, and even sessions? become impractical


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 May 20 - 05:04 AM

Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous - PM
Date: 27 May 20 - 06:32 PM

There seem to be two opposing sets of ideas here

1 Folk music is in some sense 'roots' and not commercial
2 A flourishing folk 'scene' is one where there is government funding and venues that can support professional singers, quote
no that was not my opinion.
i believe a flourishing folk scene is one where government funding[such as ireland]can support all all aspects of folk music , not just professional singers
In fact in IRELAND in the 21st century because of the oversupply of good trad musicians and the lack of folk clubs,and diminishing number of pubs many musicians and singers have had to got the UK to make a living, but the grassroots.instrumental side is flourishing, this[the flourishing part] is partly to do with state funding and media coverage
one area in the uk where social dustancing might be easier to make happen could be folk camps.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 May 20 - 06:48 PM

I wouldn't underestimate the grassroots power of commercialism. I suspect the single largest category of web-based amateur performance right now is teenagers doing TikTok videos of the Floss Dance from Fortnite. Which is not really a creation of the communal folk psyche.

That said, the folk scene has adapted well, considering how shit Zoom is. Well enough to demonstrate that folk clubs didn't serve much purpose even before the virus came along.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 27 May 20 - 06:32 PM

There seem to be two opposing sets of ideas here

1 Folk music is in some sense 'roots' and not commercial
2 A flourishing folk 'scene' is one where there is government funding and venues that can support professional singers


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 May 20 - 03:49 PM

The point is GUEST that as we said earlier folk music is much better placed to survive and thrive than any other genre as other genres are too reliant on commercialism and rarely have much of a grassroots level.
Luckily over the last 20 years or so folk music performance has spread out in all sorts of formats and venues so there are more options. When one fails we find other options.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,talented guest
Date: 27 May 20 - 03:49 PM

The folk scene was not irrelevant, it's obviously the basis of what we have today. What is irrelevant TO THIS THREAD is chuntering on about what happened years ago!
I don't need a crystal ball to see that this virus has changed everything-that's the REASON for this thread!!!! if you think that it hasn't, you must live under a stone somewhere- I for one hope it has changed a lot, especially politically, and I'd hope the 'folk scene' will change too.
   Folk music isn't that important really, but a few ideas rather than your mindless sarcasm would be appreciated, or maybe you do still live in 1954?


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 27 May 20 - 08:55 AM

Well that's got that sorted out! Not only is forty years of the Folk Scene irrelevant, but you can also foretell the future! My word what a talented Guest you are. You haven't been playing with your crystal balls again have you?


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 20 - 08:25 AM

my point is that the thread is about the FUTURE not how it was in 1954 or 1998- that is ancient history now irrelevant.
I believe you said (I precis from memory) that you are an optimist and things would soon return to normal?
You must be barmy if you think that - 'back to normal' is not an option!
THAT is my point- what's yours?


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 27 May 20 - 07:41 AM

Thank you Guest, and your point is??????????????


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 20 - 04:57 AM

22 year old info- some folkies are on about a 1954 definition- can we have a reality check please- this is 2020!!!


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 20 - 02:56 PM

Thankyou for the up date.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 26 May 20 - 02:08 PM

Any young mudcatters unencumbered with decades of baggage
Young mudcatter is an oxymoron.

My impression is that a lot of youngsters in the folk scene regard this site as a bit of a joke.

I have been a regular critic of EFDSS but a posting of a 22 year old article to portray what they are doing deserves some correction. Here are a couple of Tweets illustrating what is happening in lockdown/




Not sure if these will embed properly but the links should be ok


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 May 20 - 12:00 PM

I "went" to a Zoom song circle last night. There were participants in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Alaska, West Virginia, and California. Over the weekend, I went to song circles in California, Oregon, and Washington State. As I listened, I researched the songs and started Mudcat threads on a lot of songs that hadn't been discussed here. Every moment of those gatherings was positive, and every person sang their best. And I heard and interacted with some wonderful singers. And we laughed a lot.
I don't think I'm going to be able to sing in person with people for a year, maybe more. But I sure enjoy singing online, and I'm learning a lot this way.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 May 20 - 10:45 AM

Any young mudcatters unencumbered with decades of baggage
care to contribute realistic contemporary ideas about the future for folk music...???


errrrmmm... any young mudcatters...???

.. anyone under 60...??????????


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 20 - 08:25 AM

Good, Thats encouraging, but will there be a flourishing uk folk scene will there be enough venues to support professional singers? will some go into other music?
i am sure morris dancing will continue,once this is over.
i have had a few tunes on sunny days outside with another musician observing social distancing.
i think it will just take a little while, but small venues that do not have huge overhead costs and are fairly informal and where singers can be spaced out will possibly do well in the interim?but really it is a guessing game


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 20 - 07:32 AM

A nice bit of history about EFDSS in the last century. There are people making a name on the folk scene who weren't even born when that article was written.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 20 - 06:40 AM

the future of folk music in post covid uk might be to look at what has happened in other countries CCE, receives more government funding than the EFDSS, for a start I would like to see more arts AND sports funding going to EFDSS
Here is an article from living Tradtion magazine
The EFDSS - A Future
by Roger Marriot - Issue 27 June/July '98
        




{graphic}

There will be few readers of The Living Tradition who are members of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and probably many who really care little about it. Yet many (and certainly readers in England) owe it more than they realise, and should be concerned about its future.

A little history
The history of the EFDSS falls into three phases. From 1911 to 1939 it was concerned chiefly with the propagation of morris and sword dances, and the so-called Playford dances, first under its founding Director, Cecil Sharp, and after his death in 1924, under Douglas Kennedy. Although Kennedy attempted to shift the emphasis to traditional social dance as early as the late twenties, he met with considerable resistance from members, and it was only with the outbreak of war in 1939, that he was able to achieve his aim. Post-war, with a staff of about thirty, and several regional offices, and based upon traditional dance, the EFDSS was extremely successful. (In the early 50s they were queuing in the street to get into dances in Birmingham.) A country-wide local network was established, and many young people joined. There was collaboration with the BBC, and sponsorship of collecting activities in music and song. The EFDSS invented the folk festival, and several week-long teaching courses were held each year. The annual Albert Hall festival filled the hall for two nights and a children's matinZe. There were grants from central and local government, amounting to a sizable proportion of its annual income.

It is worth remembering that the Society at its best was far more than a successful organisation. It was a fellowship, within which friendships and marriages flourished, and which provided a possibility of social contacts across classes and throughout the country.

After Kennedy's retirement in 1961, there was a loss of strong central control. The members came to see the Society not as a mechanism for promoting dance and song to a wider public, but as a body to provide for their own leisure. They came to regard folk song and dance as recreations rather than as arts. Slowly the EFDSS slid downhill, losing staff and cutting back on its teaching activities. Simultaneously, there was an increase in commercial activity. The Society faced a situation where government funding was decreasing, and activities capable of generating money were being taken over by others. By 1986 the Society made redundant its last member of teaching staff, and decided that it could no longer bear the financial risk involved in promoting the Sidmouth festival.

In 1987 the Society's governing body came to the conclusion that the best option for its future was to sell the London HQ, Cecil Sharp House, and relocate into cheaper premises, putting the surplus into an endowment fund. This proposal met with furious opposition from a pressure group, the Friends of Cecil Sharp House. The desire to keep the building seems to have come from London and Home Counties members who used it as a clubhouse, and those with fond and nostalgic memories of the fifties. After a bitter campaign and an election marred by fraud, the Friends gained control.

In 1988 there was an offer of £2.3 million on the table, with a possible increase if certain planning consents could be obtained. This would (at 1988 prices) have provided adequate housing for the offices and library, and an endowment fund of about £1 million to run them. The sale was rejected by the new administration.

The battle for the Society was bitter. It destroyed the fellowship.

So... Does this matter in 1998? Do we need a traditional dance and song society of any description? I think we do, and for the reasons that follow.

The case for a national traditional arts body
First is the maintenance and development of the Vaughan Williams Library, the foremost national repository of material concerning traditional dance, song and music. It contains Cecil Sharp's library, many of his notebooks and manuscripts, other important collections of papers, and films, photographs and sound recordings. Any person making a serious study of traditional musical arts will, sooner or later, come to need the resources of the Vaughan Williams Library, the focus of knowledge in the field.

Second is the encouragement and co-ordination of collection and research to further our knowledge. The tradition may be everlasting, but knowledge and understanding of it, as in any area of study, is subject to continual development.

Third is teaching in all its aspects - the dissemination of knowledge, and passing on the tradition to future generations - the running of workshops and courses, the publication of all types of teaching material, and teaching necessary skills.

Implicit in these activities is the development and propagation of a philosophy. Why is there a purpose in passing on a tradition? What is this purpose? What is the tradition? How is it most effectively passed on? Under what conditions does tradition flourish? Should there be a traditional arts movement ? If so, what is it? Is 'folk' an appropriate term? Is it the same as 'traditional'? Can either flourish in a world dominated by commercial interests? And so on... To recognise the questions is as important as to have answers.

Fourth is the upholding of standards. By this, I do not mean a sterile puritanism, engraved in stone, but the keeping of a watchful eye, to see that development does not destroy. This is a dilemma that faces all revivalists. We who today enjoy traditional music, song and dance should remember that we can do this only because the tradition, once near death, was revived. In an age of mass communication we can never be certain that the tradition will survive unaided - the social forces which attack it are always there. (In the past there was a trickle of innovation entering a lake of tradition. Today, there is a fire-hose aimed into a bucket.) The purpose of 'maintaining standards', is not to inhibit artistic growth and development, but to ensure that those who enter traditional arts, knowing little of them (as many will today), start from a basis of authentic tradition, and not at several stages removed from it. And, I would maintain, the concept of 'art' implies that some is good, some bad.

Fifth, there is need for a national coordinating mechanism, so that those involved in the traditional arts movement can work in co-operation, with each other, and with related bodies outside the folk world.

Sixth, there should be a national point of reference for contact with the traditional arts of other cultures.

Seventh, there is the maintenance of a disinterested presence, working within the traditional arts for the benefit of all, rather than for a particular section.

Currently, the most visible part of the world of what is commonly called 'folk' music is dominated by festival organisers, promoters and entertainment agencies, whose ability to provide bookings, fees and publicity has great influence over performers. A second, but growing influence, is that of the increasing band of arts administrators, who both solicit and dispense grants and subsidies. Underpinning this structure is the commercialisation of much of the folk scene, and its division into punters and performers. This world of folk has now much in common with 'show-biz', and the motive of personal self-expression is perhaps the dominating feature, to the point where the use of traditional material has been abandoned, and even a claim to be creating within a traditional framework is extremely difficult to sustain. This, I feel is an important point which must be clearly understood. Whether or not the performer is paid does not matter. What matters is motivation. Is the performer wishing to carry on a tradition and share it with others, or is he (or she) just hell-bent on getting up on a stage? Does the material come first, or the performer? (Remember Stanislavski: 'One must love the art in oneself, not oneself in the art'.) As Gerry Epstein has pointed out (Living Tradition No. 24), there is a difference between maintaining a tradition and providing entertainment.

There is clearly a need for a presence which can speak and act for those whose attitude to traditional dance, song and music is not primarily, largely, or even at all, derived from considerations of profit, or power, or career; a presence which can say, 'This we do because we believe in it, and if necessary, we will raise the money to do it at a loss, because it is right that it should be done'.

Such a presence would speak for those (and their numbers are consistently under-estimated) who wish to be neither paid performers nor paying punters, but participants . They carry on the traditional arts in a traditional way, meeting in pubs, clubs and each others' homes, and perhaps have a greater claim to be considered traditional artists than most. They have a fellowship based upon a shared enthusiasm.

Present state of the EFDSS
Forty years ago, the EFDSS had about 10,000 subscribing adherents (full members and associates). At the end of March l997 it had 3127 members. By now, assuming that the previous rate of decline continues, it will probably be less than 3000. Over 20% of members are reliably estimated to be Old Age Pensioners, and a survey a few years back revealed the average age of members to be over sixty years. This situation is not improving: to be blunt, the Society is literally dying out.

If one examines what the EFDSS actually does, a depressing picture emerges. Overwhelmingly the members are dancers, not singers. Furthermore, the dances they value and practise are not traditional, but revived dances from printed collections, or modern inventions in a similar style - the more complicated the better. (One recent invention has nine separate movements in thirty-two bars.)

Today, although each EFDSS member receives the Folk Music Journal and the quarterly English Dance and Song, there are perpetual complaints that both are 'too academic', and frequent calls to abolish the FMJ, often accompanied by the statement 'I throw it away as soon as it arrives'. A recent survey of library usage found that very few readers were EFDSS members.

The position of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library must be seen in context of the EFDSS structure.

The EFDSS is a charity, subject to charity law. It is also a company limited by guarantee. Each member, like a shareholder, has a vote at an AGM, and the members elect a governing National Council, which constitutes a board of directors for the company, who are also trustees of the charity. (The EFDSS only became a charity as late as 1963. The desire to obtain relief from rates seems to have been a consideration as important as any desire to do good to non-members.)

Cecil Sharp House is held as a subsidiary trust. (The EFDSS is the trustee.) The property is held 'to be used in perpetuity for the purposes of English Folk Dance and Song'. In practice, it is let out for other activities, and contributes to the Society, which could not now survive without the rent it generates.

The Vaughan Williams Library was created a trust in 1996. Again, the EFDSS is the trustee. It has no income except what the EFDSS gives it, what is contributed by the National Folk Music Fund, and grants from the Vaughan Williams Trust. It is accommodated in Cecil Sharp House. Library direct earnings (from admission fees and so forth) are slight.

The National Folk Music fund was established in 1958 to endow the Library. It is independent of the EFDSS, and though worthy of support, it cannot be said to have been the success hoped for at its launch, and assistance from the Vaughan Williams Trust has been vital to the Library for some years now. However, this grant has recently been cut, and (according to a well-informed source) further cuts are probable. Around 40% of the Library income is from outside the EFDSS.

Moreover, an offer of £250,000 from the VW Trust, to aid in relocating and expanding the Library within Cecil Sharp House, has now been withdrawn. The reason appears to be the Society's unwillingness to allow the VW Trust to have any representation on the Library Trust. (Considering it is the Vaughan Williams Library, this seems odd.)

Where does this leave us all?
The campaign of the Friends of Cecil Sharp House resulted in the building becoming Listed Grade II, which undoubtedly diminished its market value. The subsequent creation of inter-locking trusts within the EFDSS has made any reorganisation more difficult.

The EFDSS is now literally moribund. The prospect that a body of dancing pensioners could themselves have any serious impact on the traditional arts is not to be entertained. That they could organise and finance others to execute plans to promote what they do not themselves appear to value is improbable. With the abolition of its regional organisation it has ceased to exist as a national body. Despite having regional seats on the National Council, candidates to fill them are difficult to find.

The cost of running what is left of the Society and providing its members with periodicals is not covered by subscriptions. As at November 1997, the EFDSS had financial reserves well below the one- year reserve recommended by the Charity Commission.

The prospect of raising income from members or events is negligible. The likelihood of a grant from the National Lottery is remote. The Sports Council has cut its grant already and may do so again. Even if a substantial grant were obtained, the clarity of purpose and the machinery to use it does not exist. (The EFDSS has a new administrator every two or three years.) Without the rent from Cecil Sharp House, erected as a centre for English dance and song, but largely let out to the British American Drama Association, the whole organisation would collapse.

None of this matters. If the EFDSS folded tomorrow, traditional dance and song would hardly notice. What does matter is the Library.

Unfortunately, the Library Trust Deed contains a clause stating that it must not be moved out of Cecil Sharp House, which is situate at 2, Regents Park Road, London. Why was this clause inserted?

Events of the last few years suggest that the current EFDSS sees the Library, not as a valued asset, and the key to any traditional arts movement, but as a bargaining counter. By requiring the Library to be kept in Cecil Sharp House, those who control the Society have a card to play for the retention of this building, even if the books, manuscripts and recordings were in boxes in the basement. (Remember, the EFDSS turned down £250,000 rather than lose any control.)

Is there a way forward?
Common sense suggests that the way forward is for the Library to be made secure by whatever means, and in whatever location, and the Folk Music Journal and teaching activities to be associated with it. The EFDSS as it now stands, and Cecil Sharp House as a dance hall, are irrelevant to a future. The evidence is clear that the great majority of present Society members, whatever they say, are in practice not focussed on traditional arts, are not Library users, and are not active in teaching, performing, or research.

Such a reconstruction seems unlikely. There are gifted and dedicated people within the EFDSS who hope to reform it. The trouble is, there are not enough of them to have any effect. Reform would require the consent of the members, unless they vote themselves out of control. It would require money. It would require a vision extending beyond the latest complicated dance learned at a local club. It would require the recruitment and involvement of persons to whom the Society, as it stands, has little to offer and much to repel. In sum, it needs a revolution.

The eventual death of the EFDSS seems inevitable. In that event, the future of the Library would be uncertain. Legally, it may pass to a charitable body with similar aims and objects. Realistically, this would probably be some other library - a university's perhaps - as a successor body would have to find at least £50,000 p.a. and accommodation.

On the other hand, it is not impossible to create a fresh organisation, built on traditional arts - music, dance, song, story-telling - so as to teach them and pass them on, and seeking to create a new fellowship. It would always have the option to support the Library. There is plenty to do, and many willing to do it.

The EFDSS is dying - let a fresh torch pass to younger hands

Links, further information and recordings:

Read the response - printed in a later article


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 26 May 20 - 05:21 AM

We've said what we need to, Dick, now let people get on with the point of this thread- in the scheme of things it's a minor matter.

However, it needs to be discussed, but as I've stated my preferred scenario earlierI won't repeat it, but an end to commercialism would be a three word summary?
So GOODNIGHT FROM ME and GOODNIGHT (maybe) FROM HIM


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 May 20 - 04:27 PM

I would have preferred to talk with jim by pm but he is not a member


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 25 May 20 - 02:31 PM

I wanted to post something here at some point,
but not..

" punkfolkrocker - PM
Date: 25 May 20 - 10:59 AM "

that's an "oops.. wrong thread, too may tabs open.."...


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 May 20 - 12:47 PM

This is the present in the COVID-19 crisis:

Origin: Saint James Infirmary Blues. A new "parody" of this song has been added, an ironic full-circle from the infirmary, to the streets of Laredo, and back to the infirmary.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: Raggytash
Date: 25 May 20 - 12:27 PM

I found this on the fastnet maritime folk festival website and have highlighted some of the text in capitals, why the objection to it being referred to as a "shanty festival"

"2018
marks this festival’s 7th year running. Coordinator Dick Miles is pleased to welcome Martin Carthy back to the festival for the second time, along with old favourites such as Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly, Steve Turner, Richard Grainger and many more. For the first time, we welcome Tom Lewis. SEA SONGS, SHANTIES, dance, craft market, artisan food and craft stalls, sea songwriting competition, music in the pubs and Ballydehob Community Hall. Most events are free except for headline concert.


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 25 May 20 - 11:20 AM

Dick, I've been trying to move this on for a few exchanges now- that's the end of it- you have my views & you have yours.
Another of my views is that you are a pain in the arse and always have been--   give my best to the lovely people of Ballydehob & leave the thread to people who might have something to say..
                      adios tonto    Jim

ps I'm not looking for any more bookings at your shanty festival....


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 25 May 20 - 10:59 AM

Run Rat Boy, run...


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Subject: RE: The future of folk music in a post-Covid
From: GUEST,Nemisis
Date: 25 May 20 - 10:10 AM

Have a laugh gentlemen

O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad fra


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