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German folk music

DigiTrad:
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
BRAHMS' LULLABY
BUMM! BUMM!! BUMM!!!
CORPORAL SCHNAPPS
DIE GEDANKEN SIND FREI
DIE GUTE KAMERAD
DIE LAPPEN HOCH
DIE MOORSOLDATEN
EDELWEISS
GORCH FOCK LIED
HANS BEIMLER
HEISE, ALL
LILI MARLEEN
MARIA DURCH EIN DORNWALD GING
ODE TO JOY (GERMAN)
YAW, YAW, YAW


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CET 14 Aug 01 - 10:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Aug 01 - 11:03 PM
toadfrog 14 Aug 01 - 11:16 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 14 Aug 01 - 11:16 PM
RangerSteve 15 Aug 01 - 12:41 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 15 Aug 01 - 01:23 AM
DougR 15 Aug 01 - 01:40 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 15 Aug 01 - 05:00 AM
Wolfgang 15 Aug 01 - 06:16 AM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 01 - 08:32 AM
Ringer 15 Aug 01 - 12:40 PM
ard mhacha 15 Aug 01 - 01:56 PM
DougR 15 Aug 01 - 03:53 PM
Burke 15 Aug 01 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Aug 01 - 06:05 PM
Susanne (skw) 15 Aug 01 - 07:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 01 - 07:31 PM
DougR 15 Aug 01 - 09:44 PM
CET 15 Aug 01 - 09:47 PM
Ralphie 16 Aug 01 - 01:39 AM
GUEST,Ernest 16 Aug 01 - 02:11 AM
GeorgeH 16 Aug 01 - 06:03 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Aug 01 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Ernest 16 Aug 01 - 07:48 AM
GeorgeH 16 Aug 01 - 08:47 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Aug 01 - 12:15 PM
Susanne (skw) 16 Aug 01 - 03:35 PM
Jeanie 16 Aug 01 - 03:50 PM
GeorgeH 17 Aug 01 - 11:12 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Aug 01 - 11:55 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Aug 01 - 11:59 AM
Wolfgang 20 Aug 01 - 03:27 AM
GeorgeH 20 Aug 01 - 08:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Aug 01 - 09:12 AM
Midchuck 20 Aug 01 - 09:32 AM
ard mhacha 20 Aug 01 - 10:13 AM
GeorgeH 20 Aug 01 - 02:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Aug 01 - 03:42 PM
GeorgeH 21 Aug 01 - 06:28 AM
Susanne (skw) 21 Aug 01 - 06:45 PM
Bat Goddess 22 Aug 01 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 23 Aug 01 - 06:43 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Aug 01 - 08:00 AM
GeorgeH 23 Aug 01 - 08:36 AM
Susanne (skw) 23 Aug 01 - 04:06 PM
Wolfgang 24 Aug 01 - 05:04 AM
CET 24 Aug 01 - 06:17 AM
toadfrog 24 Aug 01 - 10:46 PM
Susanne (skw) 26 Aug 01 - 07:24 PM
toadfrog 26 Aug 01 - 08:33 PM
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Subject: German folk music
From: CET
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 10:43 PM

This is a question that surfaces in my mind from time to time. Why don't folk music enthusiasts in North America or the U.K. hear much about German folk music? In fact, do folk music fans in Germany pay any attention to German folk music? God knows Germany is a singing nation: more people involved in choral singing than in sports, or so I've heard. Also, folk music from other European countries has gained a foothold in English speaking countries. I once asked a great friend of mine, a German immigrant to Canada and a major fan of Celtic music, whether the folk scene in Germany included German folk music. She said that that German folk fans tended to avoid their own national folk music because the Nazis had used it as a political tool.

This seems a shame. I would really like to learn some German folk songs (I used to sing in the local polizeichor when I lived in Germany). Would I be shunned if I was to sing a German song at a Mudcat gathering in Germany?

Any comments. I would be particularly interested in hearing from any German catters.

Edmund


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 11:03 PM

I've wondered about that. For example I've never come across any German groups at Sidmouth over the years, apart from one rather strange mob who went round chopping up logs of would while yodelling or something. No, I lie -there was a really charming and musical family group from somewhere in East Germany, just after the wall had come down, I remember them playing in the Parish Church to great effect.

I imagine it might be to do with a reaction against Nazi use of the music, or a kind of understandable feeling on the part of young Germans that they needed to turn away from a past that had gone so horribly wrong, and make a new start. And again, for different reasons, in other countries in Europe, such as England and Holland, there has been a similar turning away from their own traditions.

But there has to be all kind of really wonderful music in the background in Germany and Austria, not just the oompah stuff that gets trotted out at beer festivals and such. (I ran into one of those too on the way home from a trip to the Czech Republic. I wasn't too keen on it. But then I think Czech beer tastes much better too.)I dream of hearing groups playing tastefully folked-up Mozart the way Irish bands play Carolan.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: toadfrog
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 11:16 PM

You have a point there; Germans I've met here and in Germany seem to regard folk music as something exclusively foreign, or even exclusively Anglo-American. Another thing that surprises me a bit about Mudcat is that almost no one seems to know any foreign languages (except Irish, which is decidedly the in thing.

On the other hand, I have the impression that folk music traditions in France and Germany died out, to a large extent, drowned by classical and popular music to a much larger extent than elsewhere, so that to hear French folk music it is almost necessary to go to Canada. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but that is definitedly my impression.

Most of the German "folk music" I personally have heard is either in the nature of old standards like "Muss i denn," "Die Gedanken sind frei," or "Horch was kommt von draussen rein" - roughly equivalent to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" - or dreary Peasant War stuff. Still, I like those old standards, and wish they were sung more here. Now, the Austrians have a lively folk-song tradition, but I've never been able to interest any Germans in it. It is interesting to note that under the Nazis, Heinrich Heine became a non-person, and all his more popular songs - like "Die Lorelei" - turned into "folk songs."


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Aug 01 - 11:16 PM

There are many German sangvereins in the United States. Go to Rick's Music pages on www.acronet.net/~robokopp and follow the Music Archive link. Send him an Email to find the nearest singing group to you. I remember the one in Austin, Texas, very well- in back of an open beer garten with black beer and large, cheap steak tartar. The hall is still there and functioning.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: RangerSteve
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 12:41 AM

An acquaintance of mine, who happens to be German, was trying to find some sources for German folk music. What he found was that ever since the government banned Neo-Nazi gatherings, the Neo-Nazis started advertising the gatherings as "Folk festivals". So, unfortunately, the German people are distancing themselves from folk music because of the bad connotations the word "folk" now carries.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 01:23 AM

Sorcha gave a site for Hawaiian melodies. It also has German folk songs. She gave the clickie. See thread Hawaiian Lyrics.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: DougR
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 01:40 AM

Interesting thread. I have a friend who performs regularly in Germany (he lives in Canada) and he told me that there are a lot of requests for American Country/Western songs in Germany, which surprised me a bit. He said Irish music is big there too.

DougR


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 05:00 AM

Try Deutsche Volkslieder


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Wolfgang
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 06:16 AM

Susanne can (and will?) tell you much more about the German folkscene than I can. But I shall give you a personal account and some more general reasons why feelings towards Deutsche Volksmusik are somewhat mixed in those Germans who love folk music.

I grew up with German songs sung by my parents, sung in the boy scouts and I loved singing them. At about 18-20 I found that many of those songs had a very conservative (reactionary) background and some of the more innocent ones had been "browned in" by a too close association with Hitler. Can you imagine my horror when I found out that too many of the songs I loved where printed in my father's 'songbook of the Hitler youth'? I stopped loving Deutsche Volkslieder at all.

Loving Irish and later Scottish, English, and recently American folk music was a kind of outlet. This was a music in which you could have pride and love without the singing tradition being interrupted by a period of horror. I was fairly, and still am though slightly less so, left of the middle of the political spectrum and didn't want to be identified or identify with 'right-wing' music.

I was very naive. About ten years later I slowly found out that there were several Irish (English etc.) songs I didn't like at all for several reasons and I slowly rediscovered the beauty of many German songs. I even found that there was a huge reservoir of German democratic and revolutionary or rebellious songs. Many of these songs had never been sung by the Hitler youth. Others had been sung by them but why should I not sing a song from the Bauernaufstand (peasants' uprise) in the middle ages only for it having been sung in the Third Reich as well?

I then even found that there were many groups and singers (though overall a minority) in Germany singing these good songs and many of them in a musical style similar to what I knew from english-language folk. The list is very long and I can only mention a few like Zupfgeigenhansel, Hannes Wader, Elster Silberflug, Ougenweide, Fiedel Michel,... I listen to their recordings with as much fun as I listen to the best of english-language folk musicians. Only in passing I mention the beautiful Music by minorities in Germany as Sinti and Roma (Reinhardt family) and the recent developments of blending different traditions from immigrants from (roughly) South Europe with the German tradition (Schää Sick Brass Band; mind you, only the last two words are English).

However, there is still a big divide. Deutsche Volksmusik is often entwined with political reactionary groups. The many songs from former German parts in East Europe (now Russian, Baltic, Polish and Czech) are sung nearly exclusively by Vertriebene (expelled persons) who long to get their homes back. The songs are often very beautiful, but the political allegiance of the organisations of the expelled is often at least to the very extreme of the parlamentiary right, sometimes beyond that. Singing these songs means to be identified with that tiny political minority of revanchists or to explain yourself continuously.

And there is a big divide in musical taste. The prime example is Heino, a singer of German folk dividing hearts and families. Heino's political leanings are impeccable (though not those of his fans, often to his dismay), but his music is, well, marching music, umpta, easy beat. I love many of the songs but I shall never listen to Heino any longer than it takes to change the station. It's just personal taste, same as I now know to avoid Irish CDs which have more than three of the following items on their cover: donkey, turf, red-haired girl, shamrock, harp, leprechaun.

What I consider to be good German folkmusic I find about twice a year in German TV. The Volksmusik-Hitparade (no need of translation) comes about once a week, Saturday evening. Not my music at all. When I sometimes look for German Volksmusik CDs in other countries I nearly exclusively find the music I don't like. A bit similar to German wines. There are so many fine German wines, but abroad I only find Liebfrauenmilch (Blue Nun). We seem to be proud to export the worst of our music and wines. It's a pity. But then, my taste is obviously a minority taste.

I wouldn't mind at all singing German songs at Mudcat gatherings. There are so many good ones that it would be easy to fill an evening. But as many above have seen correctly, the traditon is broken by Hitler's years and all lovers of folk music still feel the divide until now between what I call German folk and Deutsche Volksmusik. If you want to read a tiny bit more to understand why the political inheritance of German folk is still heavy on us, read the German contributions to the Ich hatt' einen Kameraden thread. You might understand why we are sometimes divided within our own souls.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 08:32 AM

Well toadfrog, I definitely think you've got it wrong about folk music in France, and not just in Brittany, where my understand is it's about as alive and kicking as it is in Ireland.

And I know there are brilliant musicians making music in various parts of France, because they keep on turning up at festivals in England. They may be an isolated and ignored minority at home, for all I know, but then aren't we all?

I was hoping Wolfgang would get into this. You know what I'm reminded of, what seems to be the situation in America where it appears the same music can be defined as being either country or folk not so much on the basis of how it sounds, but on the basis of political ideology.

Maybe it'd be a good idea to drop the word "volk" in relation to traditional music in Germany, and leave it to the far right to desecrate. And start collecting from old people while they are still around, and build around the concept of traditional, and contemporary homemade music, maybe with the German word for "roots" which people keep on trying to popularise in England, because "folk" puts a lot of people off.

I'd imagine that mixing up contemporary versions of traditional German songs with music collected from the guest-worker communities would be a good clear way of indicating that this wasn't a hyper-nationalist thing. And a bit of that other German (among other things) tradition, Klezmer music.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Ringer
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 12:40 PM

Wolfgang, I am impressed as much by how you say it as by what you say. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: ard mhacha
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 01:56 PM

Wolfgang, I have seen Heino on German TV, before Sky TV switched over to digital I was a big fan of German Folk music. The MUSIC CANAL was very good and I have lots of Videos of the various German folk programmes. I was told by a German that the German Folk scene was inspired by the various Irish Groups which toured Germany. I cannot see why there should be any worries about certain German Folk songs, after all Wagner`s music overcame the association with the Nazis. Wolfgang sing out and enjoy. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: DougR
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 03:53 PM

Well put, Bald Eagle, that was an excellent post Wolfgang.

I agree with ard mhacha too. Someday the Germans need to put those bad days behind them and start singing their music. The Nazi were the bad guys, not the music.

DougR


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Burke
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 04:53 PM

As a librarian I've been interested in classification issues. A few years ago I looked through some of the old Dewey schedules. We don't have all of them, but the first one that had the class number I wanted was labeled: Volkslieder. I don't rememeber the date, but this was late 19th or early 20th century when an American classification schedule did not even translate the word!

I may be mistaken, but I think of the Germans as almost having invented the concept of 'folk' with the Grimm's work on folk tales & what ever the musicologists were doing. I was under the impression that is sprang from the fact that greater Germany was divided among several states & there was a desire to forge a common German identity. I don't think the people working in the field had any idea that same motive could be as corrupted as it later was by Bismark & Hitler.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 06:05 PM

I know what people mean when they feel that folk songs have been contaminated by politicians. I felt the same way when I was visiting a mountain region in North Carolina. My host said that musicians get together at a gas station there (when it's closed) and play traditional tunes. However, they have Confederate flags on their instrument cases, as if to say that the music goes with southern separatism. The hell with that, I say.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 07:11 PM

Burke, you're quite right - the term Volkslied was introduced by the Romantic poets of the mid-nineteenth century, and many were written by them. Heine's 'Lorelei', mentioned above, is a case in point.

However, apart from the Nazis using many of these songs for their own ends, I think there are other factors contributing to the neglect of German Volkslieder. One of these I take to be the fact that many of these songs are very simple and predictable musically, maybe also predictable in content, and tend to get boring after a while. (The same goes for most German folk danbce tunes.) Like Wolfgang, I used to sing a lot as a child, but with the songs available to us it was often a case of 'familiarity breeds contempt'.

Much later I found out there are other songs, livelier ones, less decorous ones, and less politically correct ones. The problem was, the 'official' Volksmusik scene wasn't interested. The vast number of choirs went on singing their choral settings of 'Aennchen von Tharau' and Goethe's 'Rose on the Heath' (without realising, of course, that this was actually about rape!). Interest developed in the then GDR, where Wolfgang Steinitz put together his massive 'Volkslieder of a democratic nature from the last six centuries'. This book made its way to the West during the West German folk music revival of the late Sixties and early Seventies. This revival had started with bands playing American and later on Irish material, before they found out about - or maybe had matured enough to accept - the vast repertoire of German material. Many did check the archives and found new songs, or they wrote new ones themselves based on older songs. Some of these groups are still going. However, to make clear the distinction to other strands of German Volksmusik, they called their music Folkmusik.

Volksmusik encompasses the choral movement already mentioned, the Bavarian yodel- and brass band music which is probably the best-known aspect of German Volksmusic abroad, and other anodyne strands. Its worst strand, in my opinion, is Volkstümliche Musik, the total commercialisation of Volksmusik. Wolfgang has already mentioned TV programmes like Volkstümliche Hitparade, and there is more of this stuff, often regionalised, on several stations. Hugely popular programmes, but the music is in no sense of the word traditional, but mass-produced 'folk-pop' with an eye (both eyes, actually) on the market and performed by minor or minuscule musical talents enhanced by playback, whose major requirement seems to be the ability to present a squeaky-clean image. This is what German Folkmusiker are trying to distance themselves from.

It's not as though there was no German folk scene although it is still true that many German bands are more interested in Irish, Scottish, country music or blues. As to McGrath's suggestion of mixing the German tradition with those of migrant workers' communities, this is already being done (although I must confess I can't talk about this with any authority as it isn't really my interest). Also, there is a growing interest in klezmer music and Yiddish songs. The German organisation for song, folk and world music, PROFOLK, has so far put together five (I think) samplers with very good examples of the German folk music scene in all its aspects. Unfortunately, their website is in German only and not very helpful to our current topic, but you might try and contact them via eMail and ask for copies of their samplers if there are any left. They are limited edition and strictly for promotional purposes, i.e. they get sent out to foreign radio stations, not normally to individuals. If you're really dying to get a peek you could always ask me, of course - nicely!

One last aspect - it is a fact that German groups don't usually get invited to UK festivals. This may be due to a certain wariness on the part of other Europeans where the Germans are concerned; it may also be due to the fact that they don't perceive our music as particularly attractive. Then, of course, the PR machine for German folk may be at fault. This is pure speculation.

Sorry for rambling on, especially as Wolfgang has said a lot already. I WAS going to think about my contribution first but in the end couldn't resist ... Anybody who has any further questions - there's always a PM.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 07:31 PM

they get sent out to foreign radio stations

Well they don't come much more foreign than the Mudcat Radio.

I'm sure if the people booking for festivals were aware of available folk bands which didn't fall into tye stereotype Susanne was lamenting, they'd b likely to thoink lof booking them them. I know that that little family band I mentioned at the Sidmouth Festival a few years back were very well received.

But of course people don't have to wait till they get a booking to come across and play music and busk and promote what they are doing by doing it. And have a good time while they are doing it. There are still lots of good festivals this summer...


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: DougR
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 09:44 PM

Susanne:
I'm not complaining, understand. I thought your post was very interesting, and I read it all, but if you would break your post up into paragraphs it makes them so much easier to read. Good post, though.

DougR
    Line breaks added to Susanne's post.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: CET
Date: 15 Aug 01 - 09:47 PM

I know the kind of anodyne "yodel and brass band" Susanne is referring to. There used to be a television program in the 1970's on one of the local stations in southern Ontario called "Gemuetlichkeit" (sorry, my keyboard isn't configured to do umlauts right now) that featured cheery musicians in lederhosen. It was designed to appeal to homseick German immigrants. My German teacher said that show would make any real German sick, to which one of my classmates replied that her parents (German immigrants)loved it. He beat a graceful retreat by saying that what he should have said was that it made him sick. There was an equally repulsive show called the "Pig and Whistle" which took place in an ersatz (if you'll forgive the expression) English pub and featured the Carlton Show Band and a buxom bar maid if I recall correctly.

I was hoping that modern German folk musicians were playing music with some of the elements that attract me to the best folk songs of other countries. Susanne and Wolfgang have reassured me in this regard. Still, it looks as if folkmusik is always going to have an uphill battle.

Any suggestions on a few good folkmusik albums to get introduced to this kind of music? For example, if someone was asking me about a really great English or Scottish ballad album, I would probably recommend "Fyre and Sword: Songs of the Border Reivers" or if they were becoming interested in Irish songs I might steer them towards Sean Keane. For Scottish folk music, I would recommend starting with the Tannahill Weavers or Old Blind Dogs.

Perhaps one day I will get to a Mudcat gathering in Germany.

Edmund


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Ralphie
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 01:39 AM

Interesting thread
Edmund. If it's any consolation, British TV is hardly awash with Folk/Roots programming either (Although I'm old enough to remember the Spinners...complete with hay bales!)
I do, however remember enjoying the East German band "Jams" a few years ago, on a British tour. Whatever happened to them ?
Regards Ralphie


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GUEST,Ernest
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 02:11 AM

Hello everyone,

I agree with much of the things Wolfgang and Susanne wrote, so I just add a few thoughts. Apart from the oompah-style folkish ("vokstuemlich") music much of the music actually sung by the people are done by choirs, there is no great tradition like the irish sean nos. Seems most of us Germans likes doing things well organized.

Maybe that is why music became so easily corrupted by political parties. Not only by the nazis, but also by the communists. Most bands of the newer folk-scene mentioned above were part of a left-wing movement, what scared of the more conservative as well as the politically indifferent (the bigger part of the population). Also the political correctness of banning perfectly harmless songs just because the nazis sung it did nothing good to the general acceptance of these - otherwise brilliant - musicians (By the way this is not new; the quotation "political song, a nasty song =politisch Lied, ein garstig Lied" goes back to the 19th century).

All the best

Ernest (from Germany - and as you may have noticed, of a slightly conservative opinion)


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GeorgeH
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 06:03 AM

As far as I recall Jams split and later reformed . . But what happened then I've no idea . .

Their first visit to the UK was before reunification . . that visit was probably Ian Anderson's finest achievement while he was running Bracknell Folk Festival.

And, Ernest, a German conservative is often well to the left of the current British Socialist Prime Minister . .

Of course Germany is also home to some wonderful folk music amongst its immigrant people . . trouble is, in much of the country, the rest of the German population never get to hear it (wow, that was one hell of an over-simplification!!)

George


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 07:14 AM

I rather think Jams may have been the band I was referring to above which I heard at Sidmouth and liked.

I get suspicious when I heard things said like "there is no great tradition " - because that is just the kind of thing which people used to say about folk song in England once upon a time. And they'd then go on to say "in contrast to Germany" and things like that.

Maybe it's true that "most of us Germans likes doing things well organized," though there are a lot of Germans who are far from being like that. But musical traditions tend on the whole to be retained and passed on by people who aren't most people.

It may be of course that all the upheavals have wiped all and twisted many kinds of traditional music in Germany itself. But there must have been musical traditions carried on in expatriate communities, for example in America or in the further reaches of Russia. And not just oompah stuff.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GUEST,Ernest
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 07:48 AM

McGrath of Harlow:

you are right, there are other traditions beside the oompah-style music and there are people making music in an more informal way. I just tried to explain why (german) folk or traditional music is not as popular here as it is in Ireland for instance (and I am aware that it has been different there as well in the past). There are many fine bands (some already mentioned) and many beautiful songs that would deserve more popularity.

Yours

Ernest


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GeorgeH
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 08:47 AM

OK, I only skimmed this first time so apologies to Wolfgang for not acknowledging that I was repeating his point about the music of the imimgrant communities . .

There has been at least one sampler of German Folk Revival stuff made generally available - under a title something like "It's only Kraut - but I like it" . . I think it may have been a wider release of one of the PROFOLK CDs Suzanne referred to. Possibly worth looking out for.

One think which occurs to me - I don't know what Susanne and Wolfgang think about this - elsewhere (particularly in the UK and US) the Folk Song Revival - starting in the mid 1950s - was very much driven by the political left. Elsewhere (e.g. France and Spain) Traditional music has been an important aspect of the regions seeking to assert their particular identities (not necessarily in a divisive or separatist way). Germany's traditional music has not received either of these boosts.

On the other hand there does seem to be a strong tradition of political/satirical caberet/theatre in Germany which is hardly found elsewhere . .

As for German bands being invited to the UK - I suspect, in relation to the number of bands performing, they don't do any worse than the rest of Europe. We don't see that many European bands here, and there seem to be a lot more to choose from in France, Spain, Italy, etc . .

Thanks to Susanne, Wolfgang and others for some fascinating information.

G.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 12:15 PM

"Traditional music has been an important aspect of the regions seeking to assert their particular identities (not necessarily in a divisive or separatist way)."

I'd have thought that that would have applied in Germany too, and for different rereasons. I mean, I can imagine that if I'd been born in one of the regions in Germany I'd have been very likely to have decided that national identity I preferred to accept was, (for example) Bavarian and European. After all the whole idea that there is a nation called Germany is a pretty recent development, going back the 19th century.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 03:35 PM

Doug - sorry, I did but forgot to add an empty line. I noticed it myself as soon as I'd posted. I'm learning!

Edmund - it's not as though German music was particularly in evidence at the German Mudcat gathering, with most of the Germans non-musicians and a strong musicians' contingent from Yorkshire ... But I'll try and find worthwhile German websites in the future to point you to. For those really interested, there are several mail order firms specialising in folk music. Just give me time.

Ralphie, Jams are still going, although they have another outfit with virtually the same line-up now, with a different musical direction, 'mrs meyer's love affairs'. Gabriele and Jo Meyer are the brains behind both bands. I'll pass your comments on to them. I've no doubt they'll be very pleased.

Ernest - conservatives are easily scared ... :-), especially of new ideas. There was one singer/songwriter named Gerd Knesel who tried to write songs in a conservative vein, supporting the Christian Democrats at election time. He vanished without trace after a couple of years because few people who listen to this kind of music at all were interested in his viewpoints. Besides, I got the impression the songs weren't all that good. As everywhere: A laudable intention does not necessarily make a good song.

George, can't agree with you there - German Social Democrats are diligently following the so-called Labour Party down the road to conservatism, chasing the Conservatives. They're just a couple of years behind, as usual!

The sampler George mentioned, 'It's only Kraut ... but I like it' is indeed the first of the series brought out by PROFOLK. The others are 'Prime Cuts' (1998), 'Test the Best' (1999), 'Pearls for a New Century' (2000), and '2001 - A Folk Odyssey' (2001 - you guessd that, didn't you?). There is also a series of short CDs featuring each year's winner and runners-up of the German equivalent of the Young (Folk) Musicians Award.

George, Ernest has already mentioned that the German folk revival was indeed mainly left wing. It just started later. Its starting point was a series of songwriters' gatherings on Burg Waldeck in Southern Germany. This castle was associated with the German Youth Movement of the 1920s, in which both singing and patriotism featured prominently. These Waldeck gatherings in the early Sixties first brought names like Reinhard Mey, Hannes Wader, Hanns Dieter Hüsch and others to prominence, and people like Ramblin' Jack Elliot attended. The man who is seen by most as the brains behind the gatherings and indeed the start of the folk revival, Peter Rohland, is known to few outside the scene nowadays because he died tragically young in the mid-Sixties. He was the first to start singing German folk songs and also Yiddish songs, in a conscious attempt to overcome the memories of the Third Reich. I think the few recordings he made are still available at specialist shops.

Also, the regional aspect was by no means absent from the folk revival. There are several singer/songwriters as well as bands like 'Bläck Fööss' (from Cologne) who take pride in and consciously use their regional dialect in their music. Bavarian music regards itself as more or less separate from the rest of Germany, as Bavaria as a whole still does. Also, Low German has been rescued from total commercialisation by bands who sing the old songs and write new ones in a less cloying style than the one you usually hear on radio or TV. Unfortunately, they don't get much airplay. I'm on the committee of the Folk Music Association of Schleswig-Holstein, many of whose members sing in Low German, so I know what I'm talking about. Have a look at LAG Folk Schleswig-Holstein. (We even have a page in English.)The eMail address given sends you straight to my mailbox.

Promotional part over, and I hope you'll forgive me for running on again!


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Jeanie
Date: 16 Aug 01 - 03:50 PM

Thanks CET for starting this thread - and thanks Wolfgang and Susanne for the link to Profolk. For those interested, here are some more useful German websites: www.folker.de for the webpage of the German folk magazine "Folker" which in turn has links to anything and everything, mostly in German. If you don't understand (much) German but are interested, do look at this webpage as a lot of it is self-explanatory and lots of the links are in English as well as German.

To confirm what has been already said, a lot of the bands featured in Folker play Irish/Celtic, but there is also a great interest in early medieval music. For German speakers look at: www.mittelaltermusik.de (Minnesang, early instruments, performers, texts etc.)

A bilingual German/English website of the band "Spielleut": www.willis.de/spielleut/

JAMS are listed as a link on "Folker" on: members.aol.com/jamsberlin/index.html but it came up as "page not available" when I tried it.

The "Folker" website also has lots of links to Klezmer. Some slightly more obscure listings are for a band called Saltatio Mortis who play "medieval punk" and an on-line shop called "Ars Nordica" based in Hamburg, selling Viking music.

Hope some of this will be of help/interest. Mit freundlichen Gruessen !


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GeorgeH
Date: 17 Aug 01 - 11:12 AM

Thanks, Susanne - I stand corrected!

Were/are the band Irolt low German? (Sorry, my UK geography is bad enough - when it gets to Germany I'm hopeless) - we saw them at Bracknell many years before Jams were over here. (I think their dialect/language was Friesian).

I know the Bavarians see themselves as "apart" (indeed, some of them seem to have forgotten who "won" the last war . . ) Which is why it's perverse that their music, to most people, characterises "German" "folk" music . . .

However it remains my IMPRESSION that when in France or Spain you can't miss the regional "flavours" of the folk music, whereas in Germany (excluding Bavarian and Austrian) I've never encountered that subdivision. Although, as has been widely noted, the only "flavour" of folk (with the previous exclusions) it's easy to find is Irish!

Not that we go as far south as Bavaria - well, not recreationally, anyway! (Our head office is in Munich, but that's another story.)

G.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Aug 01 - 11:55 AM

"If you don't understand (much) German but are interested" - there's always babelfish, which you can reach through the translate button at te bottom of every post. Pretty strange translations at times, but the sense normally comes through, which is pretty amazing.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Aug 01 - 11:59 AM

For example, here is what it did with that last post of mine:

"wenn Sie nicht verstehen (viel) Deutsches aber" interessiert sind - es gibt immer babelfish, das Sie durch die Übersetzungstaste an der teunterseite jedes Pfostens erreichen können. Hübsche merkwürdige Übersetzungen manchmal, aber die Richtung kommt normalerweise durch, die recht erstaunlich ist.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Wolfgang
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 03:27 AM

Thanks for all your contributions. This thread made me think a lot about music, politics, history, and me.

One day, if I have too much time, I'll try to write an outline of German history and its relation to folksong, from the Middle ages, through the Burschenschaften, the Wandervögel, and Hitler to today. Why all the originally true feelings of national pride and comradeship always were usurped by the extreme right to end in disaster and why the left has always had difficulties with (not only) the word 'national' even in such a context as 'national football team'.

I guess that's so ambitious that I'll have to wait until retirement.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GeorgeH
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 08:23 AM

We look forward to the, Wolfgang.

And, for what it's worth, those in the left in the UK also have problems with the concept of "national", for all sorts of reasons - but largely because the langauge and symbols of nationhood have been usurped by those of the right (current government?) and far-right (Tory party and beyond, though there are times when it seems hard to get to the right of the Tory party).

Also, of course, Northern Ireland raises all sorts of unpleasant questions of Nationhood (and both the IRA and the Ulster political parties seem pretty far right to me).

G.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 09:12 AM

Region patriotism is perhaps a lot less fraught in some ways. Songs about the glories of Lancashire or Yorkshire and so forth don't have the same overtones as stuff about England or Britain.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Midchuck
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 09:32 AM

Here's the site for some friends of mine, German nationals now living in the D. C. area, who are excellent musicians with a particular interest in the study of the German roots of U. S. folk music - which are much more extensive than most Americans realize. After WWI there was a sort of denial of all German heritage, that we never quite recovered from.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: ard mhacha
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 10:13 AM

George H, IRA right wing?, yes slightly to the right of Mao. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GeorgeH
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 02:10 PM

Of course the IRA are right wing . . always have been, in so far as they fit into the conventional political spectrum. Look at the reactionary, conservative, religious constitution they provided for Eire, which it took (seemingly) for ever for that poor, afflicted nation to start to shake off.

The "affinity" so many left wing groups claim for the IRA is simply one of life's little mysteries . . although at times it's indicative of the limited intellegence of the more off-the-field left wing groups.

In terms of their "control of their own people" and tollerance of those of differing persuations there's half of bugger all to choose between the IRA and the militant Unionists!

(Actually, I'm not sure of any simple way of distinguishing Mao from a right wing totalitarian . . )

Cheers!

George


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Aug 01 - 03:42 PM

Putting people in left right order as if there was a smooth one dimensional spectrum from left to right is a pretty meaningless exercise. Is Ian Paisley to the right of Oliver Cromwell? Are the Taliban to the left of Mohgammed? Was Milosevic a left wing bastard or aright wing bastard?

To pin down people's politics you've got to do it in at least four dimensions I'd say.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GeorgeH
Date: 21 Aug 01 - 06:28 AM

Yeh, I was just wanting to be a bit provocative . .

More mishief than anything - you sussed me! (Although I do stand by what I said . . I cannot see any basis for the view that the IRA are left wing.)

G.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 21 Aug 01 - 06:45 PM

Thread creep alert! :-)
George, I've never heard the name of the band you mention above. 'IROLT'? Rings no bell, sorry. Also, having been off on a weekend trip to Oslo I haven't looked for any more links, but Jeanie has provided a few good ones, I think. Thanks! Are you connected to the 'Folker!'?


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 22 Aug 01 - 04:25 PM

Hi, Edmund!
There was a wonderful double LP collection called "Ach Ya!" of German (and a little bit of Swiss) folk music collected in Wisconsin that came out in the early '80s, I believe. I can't remember now if I actually own the LPs (I think I do) or if I have it on tape thanks to my sister. That's about the time I started taping the LPs to listen to and archiving the vinyl for safekeeping.

Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 06:43 AM

...slight thread creep, but in a piece in the press today about money "wasted" on "useless" academic research they quoted a research project on the use of rude words in German Folk music. Somebody out there has £150,000 (GBP) to spend onit!
RtS


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 08:00 AM

***@**@###*&%$~~**~!!!


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: GeorgeH
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 08:36 AM

But that is, of course, the spin the press puts on it rather than an accurate account of the scope of the research (sorry, I forgot our press is 100% honest, accurate and decent . . ). There's plenty of scope for valuable research into bawdy folk song, I'd reckon

G.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 04:06 PM

Sadly, when one of the foremost German folk groups, Zupfgeigenhansel (named after a rather anodyne but famous 19th or early 20th century songbook), split up one of the guys went on to form a band called 'Erich und das Polk' who took pride in finding the rudest and most tasteless songs in the German folk repertoire and presenting them in a way a lot of people found offensive. Strangely enough, it didn't really take off ... (If you can lay your hands on any Zupfgeigenhansel recordings, hold on to them!)


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 05:04 AM

Here's a tiny part of 'folk music in the history of Germany' which still only exists in my head:

The first edition of the 'Zupfgeigenhansel'* came out in 1908, but the songs in this book had already been in many handwritten songbooks of the Wandervogel** founded in 1896. The Zupfgeigenhansel was their official songbook. This youth movement was founded in protest against the adults and their town-based society and values. This was done by 'fleeing the burgeois world' through 'living in the nature' by walking and camping. No alcohol and cigarettes were allowed, no machine powered transport, and each goal was to be reached by the most basic means (cooking on woodfire only; tents only from tarpaulins and e.g. the pegs and poles had to be cut anew each time from wood).

The values were comradeship, patriotism, thriftiness, and 'back to the roots'. All groups coming from this movement were either forbidden or forced into line, that is transformed into Hitler youth groups (my father went to bed one night as a Wandervogel and woke up next morning as a Hitlerjunge) soon after 1933. Many of the most ardent supporters of the Nazis came from these groups but also some of the most determined enemies (Edelweißpiraten, e.g.) who often payed with their lives for opposing Hitler and his values.

As for folk songs, we owe a lot to these groups for digging out and preserving old songs and writing a lot of fine new songs. The best of these songs can compare to McColls 'Manchester Rambler' and the worst made good marching songs for Hitler's armies.

Wolfgang

*Zupfgeigenhansel: 'Johnny with a guitar' would be one possible English translation of this title; 'Zupfgeige' being an unsucessful attempt to prevent the Germans from adopting the foreign word 'Gitarre' to their language

**Wandervogel: verbatim: 'walking bird', but in this context we also understand 'Vogel' in the sense of 'schräger Vogel' which means 'odd person'; the best translation grasping the spirit would be 'odd/outcast walker'


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: CET
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 06:17 AM

Bat Goddess, great to hear from you again. If we are ever down your way (and I certainly hope we will be) I would like to listen to your tape. I know a little about British and French folk music being implanted in North America, but nothing about the same process happening to German music.

Wolfgang, I don't think only the bad songs served as marching songs for the Nazis. In fact, I suspect some good Wandervogel songs were used precisely because people wanted to sing them as they were marching. The Devil can use folksongs for his own purposes, as he can with Scripture.

Edmund


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: toadfrog
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 10:46 PM

Query: Has anyone sat down and distinguished the old songs from the new? Because virtually all the German folks songs I have heard sound as if they were either composed by someone with sensibilities such as described - by city people wanting to be close to the folk, or processed to fit the taste of city people. American folk music often sounds like that, too, but the phonograph was invented while there still was a vital tradition, so that some real stuff survived. One has the impression that in Germany, it may have been too late.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 07:24 PM

Toadfrog, where did the German folk songs you've heard come from? I don't think the songs rediscovered during the folk revival by bands like Fiedel Michel, Liederjan, Moin and others - not to mention modern reworkings of these - ever made it to the States. The people who moved there in the 19th and early 20th century probably took with them the more polite songs that were widely sung at the time and forgot about the others, if indeed they ever knew them. I even have a CD of German emigrant songs. Have you ever come across any of those? Or artisans' songs? Wandering artisans could be a rather rowdy crew and had a whole song genre to themselves. Then there are those about monks and nuns, about highwaymen etc. Few of those were known to (or taken up by) the Wandervogel movement.


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Subject: RE: German folk music
From: toadfrog
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 08:33 PM

Suzanne, that sounds very intersting; how does one find these things? Was the emigrant CD released in the USA? It seems entirely plausible that the artisans might, even today, have some very good stuff, but I haven't heard any of it.


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