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Robin Hood ballads

DigiTrad:
BOLD ROBIN HOOD AND THE PEDLAR
BOLD ROBIN HOOD AND THE THREE SQUIRES
ROBIN HOOD AND ALAN A DALE
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE
ROBIN HOOD AND LITTLE JOHN
ROBIN HOOD AND MAID MARION
ROBIN HOOD AND THE BUTCHER (A)
ROBIN HOOD AND THE PEDLARS
ROBIN HOOD AND THE SHEPHERD
ROBIN HOOD AND THE TINKER
ROBIN HOOD RESCUING WILL STUTLY
ROBIN HOOD'S BIRTH & BREEDING...
ROBIN HOOD'S DEATH
ROBIN HOOD'S DEATH (2)
ROBIN HOOD'S DELIGHT
ROBIN REDBRIEST'S TESTAMENT


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New book on Robin Hood by John Matthews (5)
Lyr Req: parody on the story of Robin Hood (9)
Tune Req: Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford (13)
Lyr Req: Robin Hood song (25)
Robin Hood in the Crusades? (69)
Accents: Russel Crowe and Robin Hood? (76)
Songs combining christmas and Robin Hood (14)
Lyr Req: 'Robin Hood ' 1950s TV Theme (15)
Lyr Req: Robin Hood Rescuing the Three Squires (6)
(origins) Origins: Since Robin Hood (Thomas Weelkes) (3)
Lyr Req: Modern Day Robin Hood (2)
Corrections on 'The Death of Robin Hood' (20)
Lyr Req: Robin Head the Pusher (Fred Wedlock) (8)
Robin Hood songs on albums? (16)
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Lyr Req: A good song for Little John please (38)
Tune Req: Robin Hood and the Pedlar #132 (8)
Lyr Add: In Sherwood Lived Stout Robin (7)
Penguin: Robin Hood And The Pedlar (5)
Folklore: Robin Hood group in Toronto, Nov. 2003 (4)
Lyr Req: a pusher called robin hood (9)
Robin Hood/Jesse James (17)
(origins) Robin Hood ballads - in Canada (9)
Lyr Req: 'Adventures of Robin Hood' theme (15)
Tune Req: Robin Hood Marian (1)
Lyr/Tune Add: The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood (3)


GUEST,Guest, Friar Tuck 30 Oct 11 - 03:45 PM
GUEST 31 Oct 11 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 31 Oct 11 - 04:12 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 11 - 04:47 AM
MGM·Lion 31 Oct 11 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 31 Oct 11 - 04:54 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 11 - 05:26 AM
MGM·Lion 31 Oct 11 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 31 Oct 11 - 06:15 AM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 11 - 06:28 AM
MGM·Lion 31 Oct 11 - 06:47 AM
kendall 31 Oct 11 - 08:08 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 31 Oct 11 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 31 Oct 11 - 02:53 PM
Brian Peters 31 Oct 11 - 03:09 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Oct 11 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 31 Oct 11 - 04:31 PM
xrisxroz 31 Oct 11 - 07:50 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Nov 11 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Steveg 01 Nov 11 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 01 Nov 11 - 05:25 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Nov 11 - 06:40 AM
Brian Peters 01 Nov 11 - 07:08 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Nov 11 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Nov 11 - 08:30 AM
Brian Peters 01 Nov 11 - 09:05 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Nov 11 - 09:16 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Nov 11 - 09:18 AM
GUEST 01 Nov 11 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Nov 11 - 10:20 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Nov 11 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 01 Nov 11 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Nov 11 - 12:23 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Nov 11 - 01:25 PM
Brian Peters 01 Nov 11 - 01:57 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Nov 11 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,SteveG 01 Nov 11 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Nov 11 - 03:51 PM
Brian Peters 01 Nov 11 - 07:29 PM
Brian Peters 01 Nov 11 - 07:32 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 11 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 02 Nov 11 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 02 Nov 11 - 08:09 AM
Brian Peters 02 Nov 11 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 02 Nov 11 - 09:52 AM
Sailor Ron 02 Nov 11 - 09:54 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 11 - 01:42 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Nov 11 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 03 Nov 11 - 06:57 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Nov 11 - 07:07 AM
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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Guest, Friar Tuck
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 03:45 PM

...and then there's 'Robin Hood and the Chiropodist of Acaster Malbis'...


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 03:16 AM

If a performer of folk songs puts of a piece of singing and is only prepared to accept anodyne this makes him/her not only a revivalist singer but also a rather self-obsessed prima dona.
If you don't want discussion of your work - sing in the bath.
Discussion of people's work is not telling them what to do, it's part of the to-and-fro of the learning process - which is apparently why you have learned nothing.
As critical as you are of the revival, you are a revivalist - live with it.
As you said - nuff said
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 04:12 AM

Suibhne old-fashioned, Jim? Your own perspective seems positively antediluvian. Your description of a performance setting in which every element of a song needs to be ruthlessly subordinated to the telling of a story harks back to something that barely exists anymore. Like it or no, we live in a world of CDs, tapes, Youtube and Soundcloud, where we have the luxury of hearing a performance as often as we want. This opens up the pleasant possibility of a much richer aesthetic experience, in which the texture of words interknits with the contours of the melody, which is further enriched by the sound of voices and instruments engaging creatively with melody and text. And we can take as long as we like to explore those elements in re-listening. Now why shouldn't performers take advantage of that? All the above sucked me into The Birth Of Robin Hood and have held me there ever since the Soundcloud recording came up. As Michael said earlier: beautiful. Or as you might say: decadent. But I'm not putting words into your mouth, of course.

So if Suibhne and Rachel are thirty years off the pace, would you care to tell us who you regard as cutting-edge these days?

And why is responding robustly to someone's criticism somehow self-obsessed? Just wondered.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 04:47 AM

"every element of a song needs to be ruthlessly subordinated to the telling of a story harks back to something that barely exists anymore"
That's what ballads are Raymond - narratives. Nothing wrong with doing them in any way you choose - full orchestra if that's what turns you on, but then they lose their identity as ballads.
Steeleye et al did it all twenty odd years ago and move on.
"But I'm not putting words into your mouth, of course."
That's exactly what you are doing - Sean is entitled to perform in any way he wishes, just as, if he puts his performance up for general consumption, I am entitled to pass an opinion on them - anything else and we really would have 'folk policing' - not a term I'm fond of but I'm sure it's not hovering too far from your typing finger.
"And why is responding robustly to someone's criticism somehow self-obsessed?"
Sean has made it clear (once again) that he is only interested in complementary input - therein lies his self obsession.
"Cutting edge"
We'll be at a singing weekend here in a few weeks time which will be attended by a number of excellent singers from all over these islands, - Kevin and Ellen Mitchell, Elizabeth Stewart, Kitty Cassidy, Tom McCarthy, Antione O'Farachain, Len Graham.... and a whole load of 'non-name' English and Irish language singers, all superb and who don't bother too much about "cutting edges".
Jim Caroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 04:54 AM

That's what ballads are Raymond - narratives. Nothing wrong with doing them in any way you choose - full orchestra if that's what turns you on, but then they lose their identity as ballads.

Sez who? On what authority?


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 04:54 AM

Off to work –

will respond on my return.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 05:26 AM

"Sez who? On what authority? "
Funk and Wagnall, Oxford English DIctionary..just about every dictionary, encyclopeadia or piece of research - all, without fail open wih the defining factor as "narrative" - that's who
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 06:11 AM

No intrinsic need for the narrative to be lost in any form of rendition. Individual performances with any kind of delivery or accompaniment may vary as to effectiveness of their narrative-provision; but that is not quite the same question, is it?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 06:15 AM

but then they lose their identity as ballads.

What is the identity of a ballad? Or indeed a Folk Song? I would argue that that identity must always be entirely subjective. In the present case it came from The Rymes of Robyn Hood - An Introduction to the English Outlaw by RB Dobson and J Taylor (Sutton 1989) that turned up remaindered in the old SPCK in Durham circa 1991 when Thor Ewing & I were working on a project of Robin Hood songs and ballads. I read them all, but the only one that really moved me was The Birth of Robin Hood from Jamieson's Popular Ballads and Songs 1806. As no traditional tune was extant, I set it to the medieval Adam de la Halle melody from his Play of Robin and Marion (which doesn't concern Robin Hood as such) and so the song came alive - for us at least, because that meant we could sing it. Rachel and I revisited it in 2002 when we were doing a wee tour with Julie Tippets & Martin Archer and it evolved to more or less the way we do it now; which is to say Rachel added a harmony and the whole flow of thing then hung on the dynamic of the narrative with respect of that harmony, and how we sing together anyway.

Note here, Jim - this ballad does not exist as part of anything you would think of (or recognise) as a Tradition. There are no field recordings of anyone singing it, much less any record of what the tune might have been, nor, indeed, how it was sung. I had heard no revival reconstructions nor anything else that was in any way Folk with respect of it. All I had was an unsullied text from 1806 which I set to a melody from the 13th century, thus the Identity of this particular ballad is 50% creative process & discovery and 50% the joy that comes in singing the thing afresh each time we do it. Living with a ballad for 20 years it becomes part of your creative soul; it becomes a vehicle for all sorts of interpretations, not one of them is ever definitive; it lives, it breathes, in all sorts of ways. That is the identity of the ballad. And nothing is lost.

*

Discussion of people's work is not telling them what to do, it's part of the to-and-fro of the learning process

Absolutely; I agree with this 100%, and strive to facilitate such discussion as a broader part of the learning process, both personally and generally. However, comments like:

which is apparently why you have learned nothing.

contradict that learning process and reveal a more reactionary & reactive agenda on your part. You are not qualified to be a Folk Policeman, Jim - nor even a Folk CSO - rather you are the mindless bouncer on the door of your ideal fantasy folk club, refusing entry to anyone who fails to meet with your highly selective & ill-informed criteria.

As I have always said, I'm not bothered about being cutting edge, much less breathing new-life into old songs. For me it's the other way round - the New Life is already in the Old Songs - it's part seance, part communion - and whatever happens, happens. With this in mind, and on this the 31st of October, I give you my latest Post-Folk solo take on this old chestnut which is all about the narrative:

The Wife of Ushers Well (Child #79)


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 06:28 AM

"No intrinsic need for the narrative to be lost in any form of rendition"
No there isn't but in this case the narrative is lost in my opinion - as it was in the days of mini folk choirs and electric balladeers.
While it pleasant (beautiful, in your own words) enough to listen to, I believe it has moved too far from the narrtive to make it anything like good, or even mediocre ballad singing - again, in my opinion.
Don't know if you ever heard Maddy Prior's programme 'In Praise of Ballads' (probably the worst analysis of the genre of all times - insult to injury was the potted on-the-spot psychoanalysis applied to each ballad), but her choice was indicative that this is what had happened to ballads in the hands of the revival; probably the nearest I come to agreeing with Sean.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 06:47 AM

Well ~~ opinions do vary, natch. To my mind, diction, articulation, whichever term one favours, is the vital ingredient. Not the only one: imponderables like integrity of approach, oneness with the genre, also come into it; which is why I personally don't take to Britten/Pears folk arrangements ~~ for all his excellence as a composer, I don't think Britten ever really worked out what made the folk genre tick, or he wouldn't have used those grossly over-elaborate piano flourishes. And even then, as in the Lykewake Dirge in Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, I think they bring it off for once.

But, I repeat, start with your articulation & work outwards from there, whether in narrative or any other sort of song.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: kendall
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 08:08 AM

If everyone liked the same thing we would run out of chocolate ice cream in 5 minutes.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 08:38 AM

I've a deep fondness for Britten & Pears - much as I have for Alfred Deller and Jack Langstaff. What they did was just as crucial as anything that happened in Revival II; just as artificial and authentic anyway - perhaps even a little less so in terms of the self-conscious folkier-than-thou aesthetic than typifies many Revival II singers even to this day. Of course, orthodoxies are inevitable, but in the end it all comes down how people approach these things & are moved by them without bolstering their efforts with reference to some wholly non-existent Tradition - much less the correctness thereof. The Tradition in that sense is perhaps too convenient a construct, and way too narrow a confine even for the Traditional Singers themselves, for that identity was bestowed upon them by on high, just as their music was defined by an ideology they had little or no understanding of. My main citicism of the revival is, therefore, that it both assumes & insists upon ideological concensus whilst the whole thing is predicated on a class condecension which is further compounded by a reciprocal class deference that results in (among other things) folk's romantic chapter & verse religiosity.

All part of the appeal? Well, I know it is for me, just as I know the results continue to ingrigue and yield great results, but I do wince at the pure-blood implications of the Genuine and the Authentic, thus must I insist that the only true criteria for a Ballad Singer is someone who enjoys singing Ballads. In my experience no one does this lightly, and whatever their abilities as a singer / musician, the quality of their performance is underwritten by a deeper passion which I, for one, am invariably grateful to be in the presence of. There will, of course, always be the nutter who instists on singing along to an inner backing track of Steeleye Span's Thomas the Rhymer whilst reading the lyric sheet, or else passing off a small eternity with Jack Orion as being somehow traditional or else insist that their plagerised rendering of Martin Carthy's masterful Famous Flower is somehow folk in the very strictest sense of the word... But, for the most part, people care very deeply about these things and use them as a means to a deeper communion & creative expression which is what this thing called music is all about.

Me, I tend to love it all anyway.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 02:53 PM

I guess this discussion has moved on since I dipped my toe in last night, but here's my riposte to Jim.


>"every element of a song needs to be ruthlessly subordinated to the telling of a story harks back to something that barely exists anymore"
That's what ballads are Raymond - narratives. Nothing wrong with doing them in any way you choose - full orchestra if that's what turns you on, but then they lose their identity as ballads.
Steeleye et al did it all twenty odd years ago and move on.<

Several people have already addressed this, and I tend to agree with them that your ex cathedra pronouncement of how and why a ballad loses its identity merely reflects your rather reductive view of what constitutes a ballad. Steeleye developed a way of dramatising the narrative by various means familiar to the world of popular (and classical) music. Their idea was to draw non-traddy listeners into the heart of the narrative using techniques those listeners already understood. It may seem quaintly old fashioned now, but I can't see how those narratives lost their identity (ceased to be stories?) in the process.

Incidentally, it's not the first time you've dragged in the old canard about Steeleye breaking into an Irish reel in the middle of their desecration of Long Lankin. Well, suck it for yourself –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSUH6YPM9oI
and see that they do no such thing. Perhaps you were thinking of the fiddle reel at the end of Orfeo (different ballad, different album).

>"But I'm not putting words into your mouth, of course."
That's exactly what you are doing - Sean is entitled to perform in any way he wishes, just as, if he puts his performance up for general consumption, I am entitled to pass an opinion on them - anything else and we really would have 'folk policing' - not a term I'm fond of but I'm sure it's not hovering too far from your typing finger.<

It's a phrase I've never used, even in jest.

>"And why is responding robustly to someone's criticism somehow self-obsessed?"
Sean has made it clear (once again) that he is only interested in complementary input - therein lies his self obsession.<

So he has to meekly acquiesce to your criticisms in order to rebut the charge of self-obsession. Yes, I understand...

>We'll be at a singing weekend here in a few weeks time which will be attended by a number of excellent singers from all over these islands, - Kevin and Ellen Mitchell, Elizabeth Stewart, Kitty Cassidy, Tom McCarthy, Antione O'Farachain, Len Graham.... and a whole load of 'non-name' English and Irish language singers, all superb and who don't bother too much about "cutting edges".<

Or about being thirty years behind the times? Good for them.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Brian Peters
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 03:09 PM

"Incidentally, it's not the first time you've dragged in the old canard about Steeleye breaking into an Irish reel in the middle of their desecration of Long Lankin. Well, suck it for yourself –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSUH6YPM9oI - and see that they do no such thing."

Well, they do go rather abruptly into a 6:8 section (albeit using a melody with no obvious Irish connection) at 3'18". Too jolly by half. Not their finest hour, if you ask me (that was of course 'King Henry').


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 04:01 PM

"Or about being thirty years behind the times? Good for them. "
Sorry - really am up against the clock at the moment - just got to make sure the bonfire of my Jeannie Robertson, Harry Cox, Sam Larner, Joe Heaney The Stewarts of Blair, Walter Pardon, John Strachan.....
albums isn't getting out of hand
Oh for ***** sake
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 04:31 PM

Don't burn 'em, Jim. I'll take them off your hands.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: xrisxroz
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 07:50 PM

Not strictly Robin Hood but Frank Sutton wrote a smashin' ballad about Little John's Grave. Spine tingling. I have faded lyrics somewhere if anyone can supply chords or melody?


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 04:23 AM

"Don't burn 'em, Jim. I'll take them off your hands."
Why Raymond - they're older in style than even Len Graham and Kevin and Ellen Mitchell - what will you do with them; make plant pots?
What's your point - that folk music has a shelf-life and has to be replaced every so often by something that demonstrably has a far shorter shelf-life than the real thing, (as has been proved with the 'electric-soup' and the mini-choirs experimenters).
Sean, Jim Moray.... whoever have all the right in the world to do what they wish with traditional song, but if they move away from the elements that has made it what it is, it becomes something else - would you argue that Butterworth's 'Banks of Green Willow' is still folk music when played by the London Phil, or is it music that has been newly created using a traditional song?
What's your point?
Giving music, theatre, literature.... a sell-by date is giving it a death sentence.
I don't know how many people will come to The West Clare Singing Festival - but I do know that next year this town will be holding its annual 40th Willie Clancy Summer School, where people from all over the world will fill the town to listen to, play, sing and learn about traditional song and music - the town has become quite wealthy on it and nationally traditional music (played and sung traditionally) is a major feature of Ireland's tourist industry.
Last night I watches a TV programme (1 of around a dozen) where a sean nos (old style) singer sang and discussed her songs - I can listen to or watch such programmes most nights of the week on national and local TV and radio.
There are sessions in this one street town 4/5 nights a week, depending on the mood and the commitments of the musicians and singers. We have 70 or 80 school age and upward young people playing the music traditionally, some to an extremely high standard - some are now teaching the music, which is guaranteed to survive for at least another generation.
A couple of years ago we applied for a 10k grant for having our "behind the times" collection of songs and music transcribed textually and musically - we were told that we had underestimated our application (we got what we asked for btw).
How did we manage to go so wrong????
MacColl once said that the greatest threat to folk music was that it should fall into the hands of people who neither like nor understand it - I can see what he means?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Steveg
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 04:41 AM

Excellent thread!
Been following with interest. As someone who appreciates both source singer performance of ballads and what various revivalists have done with them I find the banter amusing but a little sad as well. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with performing a ballad in any way. Audiences will sort out whether it works or not.

Some of the Child ballads barely tell a story but he includes them on stylistic grounds. Jim and Suibhne, you like different approaches, but I'm sure most of us are much happier enjoying both approaches. They don't have to be in any sort of conflict.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 05:25 AM

>What's your point - that folk music has a shelf-life and has to be replaced every so often by something that demonstrably has a far shorter shelf-life than the real thing>

Er, no. It was you, I recall, you who started up the "out-of-date" hare. My point, I think, is that there are different ways of telling a story in ballad form, whereas you seem to hold that there is only one – one that was designed for a social milieu that hardly exists any more.

You make two parallel assertions that are not really parallel:
1. that when Jim Moray or George Butterworth gets a folk song between their teeth, it becomes something other than a folk song;
2. that when Steeleye or Suibhne tricks out a ballad in pretty feathers, it's no longer a ballad

I wouldn't be rash enough to lock horns with you on 1., but a ballad, as you said yourself, is simply a narrative song, a song that tells a story. In their differing ways, Steeleye tell the story of Long Lankin and Rapunzel & Sedayne tell the story of Earl Richard. In each case I have no problem following the story. So at what point did they cease to be ballads and become merely a "pleasant sound"?

As for turning your albums into plant pots, you're just being naughty. "Old fashioned" ballad singing goes straight to my g-spot too. If I knew where you lived, I'd be tempted to break into your house and steal them. It's just that...there are other ways to tell a story.

>MacColl once said that the greatest threat to folk music was that it should fall into the hands of people who neither like nor understand it - I can see what he means?<

The whole idea of folk music "falling into" the wrong hands bewrays a "chosen few" mentality, it seems to me. Would Ewan have seen it differently if he's been around in 2011?


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 06:40 AM

Jeannie Robertson, Harry Cox, Sam Larner, Joe Heaney The Stewarts of Blair, Walter Pardon, John Strachan.....

These are the people I listen to & revere - and more. May I point you in the direction of Ollie Gilbert and Mrs Pearl Brewer over at the Max Hunter archive? However, I wouldn't say Traditional Singing starts with them any more than I would say it ends with them. And whilst they inspire me - and whilst I rave about them endlessly to my various folk friends - I mostly acknowledge their idiosyncracy, individuality and the fluidity of their respective styles and repertoires. I regard them as individual artists rather than evidences of some mythical Tradition - the notion of which was invented by early revivalists to bypass very real issues of indivual creativity. People are, first and foremost individuals; I'm drawn to Folk as an eccentricity; I listen to Davie Stewart and I hear a creative artist who uses Tradition Song as his medium much as Picasso used paint - in this respect he's on a par with Captain Beefheart or John Coltrane. That is the nature of Musical Tradition as an essential cultural process - it is dependent on individual human creativity without which it wouldn't exist, much less have survived some 50,000 years down the line in the myriad ever changing genres, styles and idioms it does today. That's all down to individuals doing what's right for them to do & I very much doubt it was ever any different.

Although maybe it's different in Ireland; I don't live in Ireland; I have never been, although I have an Irish name and Irish ethnic and familial roots. I do have a small smattering of Irish Songs in my ready repertoir (Denny the Piper, Blue Eyed Mountain Queen, An Bunnan Bui (in English from Paddy Tunney), Turfman from Ardee, Katie Kay etc.) which I regard as very essential to my personal ID. Likewise my Northumbrian songs, though my status as an ex-pat Geordie is more crucial somehow, but even so certain individuals look at me askance when I do my version of The Colliers Rant because it doesn't suit their received notions of Orthodox Folk Style, which I suspect is half the problem here really (even though what those people have actually said is that it's too traditional for their tastes). Fact is, as with Child 102, there is no traditional precedent for the song, much less its performance. My source is Bell's Rhymes of the Northern Bards from almost 200 years ago and I've no doubt the song was very old then. So sing it how the hell you want to sing it. Myself, I sing it by way of Holy Communion with the lost landscapes of my childhood spent in the South-East Nortumbrian Coal-field; it's a bitter lament for a lost world, and lost potential.

I live in England, where Folk is very different from the state-funded TV-evangelised All Singing All Dancing All Traditional Emerald Idyll Jim describes as existing in Ireland; where Musical Traditions are alive and well and a constantly cropping new Pure Blood Genuine 100% guaranteed Travelling Traditional Singers to ensure the music remains unchanged and untainted for another few millenia yet; where every school kid is playing pipes, fiddles, bodgrans, penny whistles and singing Sean Nos with the best of them. In England, there is no state funded concensus on how 'it' must be; we are a multi-cultural country where people are free to do pretty much what they like in the name of creative expression and musical experience. In spite of this, Engish Popular Culture continues apace, and the English Population (unlike their State-Funded Cousins over there in Folk Utopia) really have better things to worry about than Traditional Music, which is the reserve of a dwindling bunch of grizzled old Folkies on one hand, and a sprightly bunch of university educated BYTs on the other. There's not much middle-ground - like me - aged 50, I'm both too young & too old because Folk skipped a couple of generations so in my Folk Life I'm talking to people 10-20 years my senior (and older), or 20-30 years my junior (and younger). Either way, it's minority stuff, a rare sort of specialism very much on the wane despite the enthusiasm of its various and diverse protagonists, amatuer, professional, semi-pro or whatever. It exists because of the passions of individuals, maybe individuals like Jim Carroll, who really ought to curb their enthusiasms when it comes to musical possibility.

I must say that I LOVE the various and diverse aspect of this. Whilst we had fey-folky teachers in their braless early 70s Laura Ashley clad glory slipping us the occasional ballad at school, we also had sythn-obsessed wild-eyed experimentalists and crumhorn weilding medievalists to put another spin on things. To me it was all part of the same Folk Zeitgeist that had gangs of skinheads terrorising local pensioners by chanting Gaudete out of dark bus-shelters on dark December nights in 1973 when I was 12. Mostly, we listened to each others record collections, and learned that Music is very much a matter of Doing What Thy Wilt - even Folk Music, because that's what the old guys were doing.

When I think of my own cultural history and how that diversity of experience informs my cultural creativity, then I really balk at some state-funded Folk-Fascist thug telling me I'm somehow doing it wrong. There is no wrong, even if people don't like it, they are free to listen to something else, just as they're free to do it as it suits them. As musicians & singers we are charged to be true unto ourselves, not to some state-funded fantasy off-the-shelf identikit nationalism which (thank God) doesn't exist over here - and certainly not in this house. As a kid I sought out records by Willie Scott, Billy Pigg and Phil Tanner with the same enthusiasm as I did those by Neu! Sun Ra and Daevid Allen. These are my cultural and musical roots & traditions; and it's as common as it is unique to each and every one of us, just as it was common to Walter Pardon and Sam Larner; it isn't PURE, but sure as hell it's REAL - and long may that reality continue.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 07:08 AM

"I regard them as individual artists rather than evidences of some mythical Tradition - the notion of which was invented by early revivalists to bypass very real issues of indivual creativity. People are, first and foremost individuals; I'm drawn to Folk as an eccentricity; I listen to Davie Stewart and I hear a creative artist"

No doubt that Davie Stewart was a creative artist, a wonderfully idosyncratic musician and interpreter of ballads. However you seem to be making the logical error of assuming that, because Stewart himself was a highly individual singer and musican, the practice of singing as communal entertainment in pre-technological society was the preserve of a few gifted or even eccentric individuals, whereas all the evidence suggests that it was very widespread. If you're accepting that most people sang, but that every one of them should be respected as an individual, I'm right with you - but that's exactly what I call a singing tradition, a concept you don't accept.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 07:24 AM

"... grizzled" yourself, you young saucebox!

Loved your Colliers Rant, mind. Have bookmarked it to play over & over...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 08:30 AM

but that's exactly what I call a singing tradition, a concept you don't accept.

Any tradition is but the consequence of the individuals involved with it; The Tradition is consequent on the creativity of those individuals in making and changing the music and songs. As far as it can be said to have existed it all, it did so in a fluid state consequent on the people who did it - same with any music. The bit I don't accept is the Folklore thing, which has people as a passive medium for something they have no undertstanding of simply because it was subjected to a xeno-methodology by way of taxidermy and taxonomy. It is is this secondary stage that not only defines and perceives The Tradition, but later insists upon both it, and it's purity. We can see any artist as an indivual or part of a causal tradition, be it in terms of their roots, or the effect they had, if any, on later artists. Take John Coltrane, from his early work through to the wunderkind of the first classic Miles Davis quintet, through to the classic quartet and his later explorations with Rashied Ali and Pharoah Sanders - none of that came of nowhere, and yet he rewrote the book for every saxophonist that came after him. A few of us might mutter that he ripped most of it from John Gilmore, who was mostly content to stay in the ranks of the Sun Ra Arkstra - and then we go on to subject Gilmore's art to a similar analysis. Piece by piece, we build up a comprehensive picture of The Jazz Tradition, even though in doing so we end up with an archive so vast we'll never get through it it in a lifetime, much less reach any sort of concensus on what really happened and why - or any sort of understanding of what it must have been like to be there!

The Folk Tradition is likewise vast and complex; we access it through songs and singers and sources, but its nebulosity defies absolute understanding without serious affecting its true worth. The closer we get to it, so the bigger and more wondrous it gets, but that closeness is only in terms of individual human beings who are so much more than just a part of it, but, as I say, creative artists on a par with any. I'm not suggesting they were all far-out restructuralists, but the evidence would suggest that they weren't content to leave things alone. No one controls the movement of any given song from one singer to a next, much less how that singer then chooses to make the song their own, or then change it with each subsequent performance. As I suggested elsewhere, even if we had a crack team of time-travelling musicologists to record every single utterance of every single song sung by every single singer and then subjected the data to a programme of high powered meta-analysis I'm sure we'd still be missing something - the pure joy of thing probably!

I love cultural process, just times you can't see the trees for the wood, but there is a beauty in a swarm too, and in ever-changing organic fractals. My main problem with The Traditional Hypothesis is when it becomes the basis for pure-blood correctness, elitism and exclusion which, I think, is a complete anathema to the nature of The Folk Beast which has always been about individuals doing things as it suited them. If it wasn't, then I'm sure there'd only be the one version of Barbara Allan, and so-called Folk Art would look bland and mass produced.

*

Loved your Colliers Rant, mind.

Cheers. It's odd that we only have one set of words for it, although there are other verses that would fit. Some years ago my mate Clive Powell set Ca the Horse, Me Marra to an old pipe tune, but those would fit Colliers too - and could well be contemporary. I sing Ca' the Horse to Clive's tune, but think nothing of altering the odd line here and there (I've lately started to sing he digs his coals thick, me lads - and drives the lasses wild; the original is drives the boards wide; I'm sure you can see how I got there!). With Collier's, I wouldn't consciously change a word of it; it comes from my grandfather's old copy of Crawhall's Newcassel Sangs, 1888, which reprints Bell from 1818. Is that the earliest?? I take heart that coal was the main export of the Tyne right back in the late middle-ages, so The Colliers Rant becomes a seance with a potent non-corporeal something or other which these days you might find rusting away in some old ditch-back or other, but even in my recently young day defined the steaming long-vanished landscapes which were once my home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsqsWmNqWYU

Sair fyeld, hinny!


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 09:05 AM

"people as a passive medium for something they have no undertstanding of..."

An idea that died a hundred years ago.

"Take John Coltrane..."

An outstanding member of a self-selected musical high caste. Nothing to do with folk music, as practiced right across the population by untutored musicians in their own homes, workplaces and social spaces.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 09:16 AM

I've lately started to sing ...he digs his coals
.,,.
Is 'dig' the sword a collier would use, or would 'cut'or 'hew' be a more likely usage.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 09:18 AM

I meant, of course 'the word' ~~ tho 'the sword' might make a crazy sort of sense in this context!...


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 09:38 AM

"Er, no. It was you, I recall, you who started up the "out-of-date" hare. "
My Out-of-date referred to a revivalist (as much as he might despise the species) using revival techniques long abandoned by the revival
Your 'out of date' was a rejection of revival and traditional singers using traditional techniques which - apparently are past their sell-by date.
I repeat - what is your point of describing them as out-of-date and if they are, why on earth should you bother your arse about t
records of singers singing exactly in the way that you have have described as "out-of-date"?
"chosen few"
Please do not misrepresent my argument - I saidfall into the hands of people who neither like nor understand it" - different argument altogether
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 10:20 AM

An idea that died a hundred years ago.

Well, it certainly underwrote a lot of the revival since that time, and subsequent assumptions in both Folk and folklore. And it lingers here too when people speak of The Tradition as some sort of tangible phenomenon that exists quite separate from the singers who are 'merely' part of it, rather than the whole of the case. It also exists in Jim's notion of Traditional Correctness, which I dispute ever existed because the evidence suggests something a good deal more fluid & feral than that. It's interesting how Outsider Art / Folk Art / Art Brut will coalesce into an identifiable aesthetic, but remain quite disparate at its root where it's invariably the work of very exceptional individuals. The Imperial tendancy to patronise the lower classes as a faceless mass - or at best a Proletrariat with revolutionary potential - is born out by the Traditional Hypothesis. I'm not immune to it though; neither have I quite written it off, just, like The Folk Process, I think we have to not only get to grips with the mechanism of the thing, but recognise that, as with biology, all music is determined by exact same processes. This doesn't negate Folk, just places the emphasis on a more musicological appreciation of creative idiom & species rather than a patronising ideal hatched across the gulf of class / cultural condescension and delivered from on high.   

member of a self-selected musical high caste. Nothing to do with folk music, as practiced right across the population by untutored musicians in their own homes, workplaces and social spaces.

That's a cosy view of things that returns us to a romantic notion of the sorts of people who just dabbled for the hell of it. From the collected evidence I deduce the work of master craftspersons on top of their art - like domestic knitters and gardeners to time-served coopers, ploughmen, brickies, wheelwrights, field surveyors, engineers, poachers... The tutoring was part of the time-served process of the thing, much as allowing for the genius of gifted individuals as we have today in any given musical community. Some people are just blessed and are high-caste artists by default - be they storytellers, fiddlers, pipers or singers; the canon is full of such people, and accounts of them and the supernatural accounts of how they came to be supernaturally gifted. I'm not proposing a selective guild any more than you see in untutored kids who routinely peel off heavy-metal pyrotechnics in the music shops of Manchester of a weekend. Music insists on mastery, and listening to Phil Tanner, Harry Cox, Ollie Gilbert, et al, that's pretty much what I hear & relate to with the same humble awe, quivering respect & reverence as I do when listening to John Coltrane. Coltrane was just one saxophonist of countless others who made it to top of his pyramid by drawing on the work of those before and around him; uniquely gifted, his work still resonates with us today in terms of its Tradition - much as Davie Stewart, or Seamus Ennis, or countless other untutored Folk Musicians who live on in Folk Memory alone.

*

Is 'dig' the sword a collier would use, or would 'cut'or 'hew' be a more likely usage.

You're right - I sing hews not digs; needs must I swallow my swords. Another line is Hewin and putting and keepin i' th' sticks - I ne'ver so laboured sin aa took up me picks. My favourite verse echoes the devil of TCR & some of the finest imagery in Northumbrian folksong:

The rope and the rowl and the lang ower tree,
The de'il's flown ower the pit wi them; he's away wi them a' three.
The rowl hangs above the shaft, de'il but it fall;
Twenty four horned owl run awa wi' the mill


Contracting the second line would fit it to the melody of TCR. I'm tempted to put it up on YouTube, but as I'm presenty wanting a front tooth (dentist tomorrow!) I'm a tad camera shy...


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 10:55 AM

"It also exists in Jim's notion of Traditional Correctness.
Again, do not have a notion of Traditional Correctness," - have asked you once before do define a distortion of what I believe - you ignored it than and I have no doubt you will ignore it now, but what is my "notion of Traditional Correctness."?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 12:05 PM

>"Er, no. It was you, I recall, you who started up the "out-of-date" hare. "
My Out-of-date referred to a revivalist (as much as he might despise the species) using revival techniques long abandoned by the revival
Your 'out of date' was a rejection of revival and traditional singers using traditional techniques which - apparently are past their sell-by date.
I repeat - what is your point of describing them as out-of-date and if they are, why on earth should you bother your arse about t
records of singers singing exactly in the way that you have have described as "out-of-date"?>

I think you've misinterpreted my flippant flipping of your own words back at you. I've never mastered this "joke" thing that people are so good at.
To make it clear: I'm not the least bit hung up on notions of "old-fashioned" or "out of date". All the singers you mention, so far as they're known to me, sound pretty good to my ears, and I can quite accept they're masters of their craft. But as I said before, there's more than one way of telling a story. I like their way, and I like other ways too. It's even possible I like them for the same reasons you like them. "Sell-by date" is not an expression I introduced into the debate.

>"chosen few"
Please do not misrepresent my argument - I saidfall into the hands of people who neither like nor understand it" - different argument altogether<

It's just the secret society sound of letting things "fall into the hands" of those who are unworthy of ownership. But they're just words. We all use 'em.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 12:23 PM

but what is my "notion of Traditional Correctness."?

I can't say what your criteria for traditional correctness is, Jim - just that your dismissal of everyone from Steeleye Span to the Young Tradition as falling short of the mark implies that you at least have a mark by which to measure the shortfall. If it's simply a matter of not liking them, then fine (I'm not a great fan of either myself to be honest) but you seem to be implying somehing more here - even to the point of saying that I neither like nor understand it or that I employ revival techniques long abandoned by the revival and have move(d) away from the elements that has made it what it is so it becomes something else. Creepy stuff.

I don't know what these elements are, Jim - so it's only fair to assume that you have some occult knowledge of Traditional Correctness only known to initiates of your particular hermetic cult. I wonder, was the Critics Group such a cult? Were you a skyclad coven with access to Da Vinci Ciphers and Hidden Sacred Lore presided over by He Who Must Not Be Named At Least Not By His Real Name - the Dark Lord Manacle Cowl himself? I'm not into cults, nor indeed correctness, unless in medical procedure, but certainly not in music where, as in art and language, correctness is a mark of serious anal retentive pedantry which runs contrary to the nature of the beast. I love the beast; long may it roam wild and free in its natural habitat. To that end, I will dedicate every note I play, and live only to facilitate that in others. You see, that's what I hear when I listen to old songs and the singers who sang them; I also heard it loud and clear from those traditional singers I have been honoured to talk to and work with; storytellers likewise, whose genius lay in their creative mastery of the craft, a mastery that was entirely their own. I can still feel Duncan Williamson's hearty handshake cracking every bone in my paw after I free-styled The Wee Wee Man one late night ceilidh to an entirely improvised melody circa 1994. For those of us without religion, things like that are a blessing from on high...


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 01:25 PM

....."implies that you at least have a mark"
Don't we all - it's called judgment guided by what we know, think we know and what we've done - in our case, thirty odd years of talking to and recording traditional singers.
Perhaps you might tell us what you base your outright dismissal of Sharp, Greig, Hendedrson, Buchan, Lomax, Lloyd.......... and anybody who has ever been stupid or agenda driven enough to use the terms "folk" and "tradition" (not to mention Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan, Duncan Williamson, The Stewarts, Jeannie Robertson - all of whom have at one time or another attempted to distinguish their songs and stories from the factory manufactured variety.
If you are so confident your ideas are right, why to you insist on using such unpleasantly distorted terms as "Traditional Correctness" and "The Dark Lord Manacle Cowl" - it makes you look a bigger prat than you obviously are.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 01:57 PM

"...people speak of The Tradition as some sort of tangible phenomenon that exists quite separate from the singers who are 'merely' part of it..."

Who are these "people"? Notwithstanding that 'tradition' is an abstract noun, everyone I've ever discussed the concept with would regard the singers themselves as absolutely central to it.

" ...a romantic notion of the sorts of people who just dabbled for the hell of it. From the collected evidence I deduce the work of master craftspersons on top of their art..."

The collected evidence tells us nothing of the sort, merely that the people who made recordings of singers generally favoured the better ones. "People just dabbling for the hell of it" is a probably a more accurate description of many of those who once sang - not to mention many who still choose to sing within the folk revival - and why not? It was one of the things that always attracted me to folk music in the first place: you didn't need to be a 'master craftsperson' to perform it (though some would argue that folk clubs took this attitude too far).

Let me quote to you again some apt words from Carrie Grover, writing about her early 20th-century Nova Scotia community in which singing was a part of life. That's right, the account that you dismissed last time around as "mawkish and voyeuristic" (always a good idea to favour your own prejudices over eye-witness testimony, eh?).

"many people tried to sing who could not even carry a tune, or as one old fellow expressed it, 'carried it a ways but dropped it before he got very far'... It was rare to find a really good singer of folk songs..."

The point is, the Davie Stewarts and Phil Tanners may well have been the 'master craftspersons' of their day, and we can all think of traditional singers whose style, technique and committment we revere - but they were the tip of the iceberg. Phil Tanner had six brothers, who all sang. We know little about them, but perhaps they didn't all have Phil's talent for entertaining a pub tap room. Percy Grainger recorded several singers at Brigg, but none was the equal of 'master craftsperson' (and chorister) Joseph Taylor.

That's what folk music is, when it comes down to it - music for everyone. That's not a romantic bourgeois fantasy, just the way it was. Not for nothing was a concert at CSH earlier this year, featuring the Coppers, Will Noble & John Cocking, the Moor Music gang and others, entitled: "It's just what we do!"


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 02:23 PM

Don't we all - it's called judgment guided by what we know, think we know and what we've done

Subjective opinion in other words, to which you're entitled.

- in our case, thirty odd years of talking to and recording traditional singers.

From which you arrive at your own conclusion. So what? Keep up the good work but keep your ill-informed criticisms and negative absolutisms to yourself. Either that or just ditch them altogether.

Perhaps you might tell us what you base your outright dismissal of Sharp, Greig, Hendedrson, Buchan, Lomax, Lloyd.......... and anybody who has ever been stupid or agenda driven enough to use the terms "folk" and "tradition"

I'm wary of certain of their methods and assumptions, but I do not dismiss any of them outright. I avidly read, collect & study their works - and I sing many songs associated with them, collected or written by them. I love my country, Jim - I don't have to agree with each successive MP or other fellow countryman. Same with Folk. I am wary, and not without good reason. But I too use the words Folk and Tradition...

not to mention Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan, Duncan Williamson, The Stewarts, Jeannie Robertson - all of whom have at one time or another attempted to distinguish their songs and stories from the factory manufactured variety.

I love all these people very dearly and I'm honoured to have worked, laughed and drank with one of them. Not sure what you mean by Factory Manufactured though - is that TV evagelised Celtic Woman Sean Nos stuff you were raving on about earlier? You see, I don't have a problem with that either, just a matter of taste surely? Again you seem to be implying some darker occult hierarchy available only to select initiates. It's not the case. I've got a lot of Duncan Williamson books and Lomax records (etc.) and I'm sure they might just be Factory Manufactured too.

If you are so confident your ideas are right

Only right for me, Jim - if other people agree, then fair enough; if they don't then I'm not about to assault them or dismiss them. I am but one person, and the last time I looked free speech was still a highly prized human right.

why to you insist on using such unpleasantly distorted terms as "Traditional Correctness" and "The Dark Lord Manacle Cowl"

I'm reacting against your unrelenting negativity, Jim. You have standards of absolutism by which you feel qualified to dismiss anything you do not like as being somehow 'wrong', and your allegiance to Manacle Cowl is well known & oft stated. So - I can't help but feel the two things might be related. I only have a passing acqaintance with The Dark Lord myself, but remain as respectful as I am skeptical, especially of his methods, myth, assumptions, and righteous political brow-beating. But his legend fascinates, as legends do, and he was a damn fine singer, but not in the same league as Davie Stweart or Captain Beefheart. You call these things unpleasant, however I would never openly insult someone by saying   

it makes you look a bigger prat than you obviously are

if only because I've more respect for both myself and for other people - even you - than to stoop so low.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 02:35 PM

Jim,
I have also had a lifetime of listening to, talking to and recording traditional singers, and I still love doing this given half a chance, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying the ways all of this music has evolved in a multiplicity of ways over the last century. Traditions can become moribund museum pieces if they don't continue to evolve.

As for the use of the word 'folk' we've been over this one many times before. Nowadays it HAS a multiplicity of meanings to the MAJORITY of people. 'Tradition' has a more singular definition, but each tradition is made up of of lots of smaller traditions and each of these overlaps with other traditions, None of the source singers you mention are part of exactly the same tradition. Some, though not all, source singers do attempt 'to distinguish their songs and stories from the manufactured variety' but they still sing/sang and enjoy(ed) listening to the latter. the first name on your list is a prime example.

I think Suibhne's colourful language is somewhat OTT, but it can be amusing.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 03:51 PM

everyone I've ever discussed the concept with would regard the singers themselves as absolutely central to it.

I would hope that's true any genre or tradition, but one can't help be but be wary of the subject /object inter-relationship of the collector and the collected, much less the motivations of either, in gaining any sort of true picture. Jim himself despairs that his precious traditions died out once people discovered TV, but doesn't seem to take into account his own impact as a collector on the expectations of his singers. This is elementary anthrolopology. A L Loyd falsified evidence, as did Manacle Cowl; as did Disney by having his cameramen employ sheepdogs to drive lemmings off the cliff to prove that's what lemmings did.

The collected evidence tells us nothing of the sort, merely that the people who made recordings of singers generally favoured the better ones.

Look at any craft or trade and you find little evidence of "People just dabbling for the hell of it" - much less the mastery of the evidence that has come down to us. If the majority of people did just 'dabble' in it then fair enough but they weren't the ones making the songs, any more than a unskilled bodger would have been responsible for the mastery of brickwork even in evidence on our humble Victorian sea-side terrace. The songs are the product of something greater than that. I've no doubt lesser talents sang them too, but that's just in the way of things. I hear my post-man dabbling in snatches of popuar song today, doesn't mean he played any part in its creation. I can sing most of Mekanik Destrictiw Kommandoh but I sure as hell couldn't have wrote it.

not to mention many who still choose to sing within the folk revival - and why not?

Absolutely. I'm strictly a come-all-ye man in practise, but I also recognise that when it comes to serious music making you've got to take a few steps up from that. It's not an elitist thing - it's just doing what you do, which is what we all do.

It was one of the things that always attracted me to folk music in the first place: you didn't need to be a 'master craftsperson' to perform it (though some would argue that folk clubs took this attitude too far).

Me too. But you do have to be a master to make it. I don't think the ballad tradition is evidence of casual dabbling any more than the wood-carvings on medieval misericords, ort the slip-ware of Toft.

Let me quote to you again some apt words from Carrie Grover, writing about her early 20th-century Nova Scotia community in which singing was a part of life. That's right, the account that you dismissed last time around as "mawkish and voyeuristic" (always a good idea to favour your own prejudices over eye-witness testimony, eh?).

If you're going to quote me, at least give me a source so I can see in what context I said it - I can't even remember what thread it was!

"many people tried to sing who could not even carry a tune, or as one old fellow expressed it, 'carried it a ways but dropped it before he got very far'... It was rare to find a really good singer of folk songs..."

See my earlier comment about my post-man - or any amount of casual dabblers today who'll quite happily sing you snatches of a song, or take part quite happikly in a Karoake night, but don't write songs. Dabblers are still there; some even make money out of it.

The point is, the Davie Stewarts and Phil Tanners may well have been the 'master craftspersons' of their day, and we can all think of traditional singers whose style, technique and committment we revere - but they were the tip of the iceberg.

You say iceberg; I say pyramid. See my earlier comment regarding Coltrane. As in any musical community & tradition we will have plenty of dabblers, and very competant musicians, and masters, and all points in between. I can't think of a single one where that wouldn't be the case.

Phil Tanner had six brothers, who all sang. We know little about them, but perhaps they didn't all have Phil's talent for entertaining a pub tap room. Percy Grainger recorded several singers at Brigg, but none was the equal of 'master craftsperson' (and chorister) Joseph Taylor.

Sounds about right.

That's what folk music is when it comes down to it - music for everyone.

That's what ALL music is.

That's not a romantic bourgeois fantasy, just the way it was.

The fantasy is assuming that it's any different elsewhere and fantasing over collectivism as oppose to the creativity of working class musical masters. Seeing the songs as a product of a 'process' rather than the same sort of genius that we find in all music, no matter who might be moved to dabble in it.

Not for nothing was a concert at CSH earlier this year, featuring the Coppers, Will Noble & John Cocking, the Moor Music gang and others, entitled: "It's just what we do!"

And not a single dabbler amongst them! Ask any musician though - Jazz, Classical, Gamelan, Metal - and they'll tell you the same thing; It's just what we do. It's the bottom line of all music. We all sat it. We're what Derek Bailey once called the 'I just play, man! men' - or women - regardless of what style or idiom we happen to play in.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 07:29 PM

"If the majority of people did just 'dabble' in it then fair enough but they weren't the ones making the songs..."

Anyone spot the goalposts just moving? I thought we were talking about passing songs on - i.e. what 'tradition' consists of - not arguing over compositional credits.

"fantasing over collectivism as oppose to the creativity of working class musical masters. Seeing the songs as a product of a 'process' rather than the same sort of genius that we find in all music"

Look at the scope and range of the melodic and rhythmic variants to some well-known folk songs. The result of many individual interventions? Yes. Genius, every one? Stretching it. But all part of a process (not a 'process'), undoubtedly.

["That's what folk music is when it comes down to it - music for everyone."]
"That's what ALL music is."


No, most music is performed by 'musicians'.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 07:32 PM

"I can sing most of Mekanik Destrictiw Kommandoh"

I feel a duet coming on...


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 05:03 AM

"Subjective opinion in other words, to which you're entitled."
As ever, you appear to deal only in dismissive cliches - "subjective is dismissing out-of-hand over a century's research and experience to justify your own approach to singing and lack of research - you have never at any time put forward and argument for why everybody else got it wrong and your pontifications (no great argument put forward for those either) are right.
Like your approach to ballads - that's been done before; Dave Harker fell at the first fence thirty years ago with a similar approach - his out-with-the-baby and-the-bathwater technique and, as with you, his refusal to discuss his pronouncements tripped him up somewhat.
If anything confirms your 'folkie' pedigree, it's your wonderful "TV evagelised Celtic Woman Sean Nos" - straight out of the American "Oirish" scene.
Sean nos is a term applied, not entirely satisfactorily, to such "evagelised Celtic Woman" as Joe Heaney, Sean McDonagh, Nicholas Tobin and Darach O'Cathain - don't know what incursions into the subject you have made so far but try 'Bright Star of the West' (discussion of Joe Heaney's singing), 'On a Rock in the Middle of the Ocean' (songs and singers of Tory Island) or the superb 'Hidden Ulster' (Six counties Irish Language singing).
Steve
"but it doesn't stop me from enjoying the ways all of this music has evolved in a multiplicity of ways over the last century."
Doesn't stop me enjoying it either, but nor does it stop me from saying why regurgitated styles of singing (that have long been rejected by the revival that once gave it an audience) don't work on ballads for me.
"Nowadays it HAS a multiplicity of meanings to the MAJORITY of people "
NO IT HAS NOT - "the majority of people" don't give a toss - 'folk' has totally failed to connect with them. The only time the word "folk" passes the lips of the "majority" of Britons is when it is prefixed by "an everyday story of country...."It is only within the revival that the definition/non definition discussion takes place.
This is what makes these arguments so crass - there has been a level of success in Ireland by a return to the source - especially important is the fact that the youngsters are playing it enthusiastically, well and in great numbers.
Whereas, back in the UK.......... !!!! a hand-to-mouth existence seems to be the best description in most cases - largely due to the fact you no longer get to choose your music when you go to a folk club, but have to accept which particular (non) 'brand' is favoured by each individual club.
Until that situation changes it will continue to be the researched and documented consensus definition which survives - not a great deal of disagreement there.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 05:38 AM

Anyone spot the goalposts just moving? I thought we were talking about passing songs on - i.e. what 'tradition' consists of - not arguing over compositional credits.

Can you seperate the two things? The flux and fuidity of Traditional Song from one singer to the next is part of its nature; be it the re-making of songs to suit, or the way a singer might sing a different version of a song each time - as Mrs Pearl Brewer did on the two occasions Max Hunter recorded her singing The Cruel Mother. Theorectically - and philosophically (depending on your parameters) - any given song exists in a different variant each time it's sung, any one of which can be passed on...

Look at the scope and range of the melodic and rhythmic variants to some well-known folk songs. The result of many individual interventions? Yes. Genius, every one? Stretching it. But all part of a process (not a 'process'), undoubtedly.

I don't think it's unreasonable to think of these variants as the product of a singers whim, or mastery of their craft, or even examples of it. If people are conversant with that 'tradition' then they'll be able to extemporise at will, for better or worse, as in The Legend of Knockgrafton, or people who will readily approximate a melody to suit. My grandmother could out-whistle Ronnie Ronalde and regularly amazed us by improvising in this way on any number of melodies. But only in the kitchen, mind.

No, most music is performed by 'musicians'.

Anyone who even dabbles is a musician; some dabblers will even become great musicians, but it all starts with the dabbling, or being moved to dabble in the first place. Like on that fateful day in June 1976 when the Sex Pistols played at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, thus moving many audience members, to go forth and dabble. Within three years many of them had rewritten the book, like Peter Hook, a non-musician hitherto, and now hailed as a crucial stylist on the bass guitar. He's still not a great musician - I saw him playing solo last year at The Lowry and it was pretty dire to be honest, despite being bigged up by Howard Marks as the greatest bassist of all time, which is quite beside the point because he made great music as part of his particular tradition.

*

I feel a duet coming on...

I'm reminded of this which I'm sure no one else on Mudcat will find amusing in the slightest; it might even mave relevance to the discussion with respect of mondegreens & mishearings...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWsFWdqLmNM


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 08:09 AM

As ever, you appear to deal only in dismissive cliches - "subjective is dismissing out-of-hand over a century's research and experience to justify your own approach to singing and lack of research

I'm defending my position against your relentless onslaught, Jim - I'm just a singer who sings things as he sees fit to sing them; in this I'm not different from any other singer. Like I say, if you don't like it, fine - but to use a barrage of Occult Revival Law in order to justify why your opinion is the correct one seems a little OTT. As for research, I'm researching all the time, it goes with the territory; one can't just sing Traditioonal Songs without researching them or being aware of their provenance. That's part of the fun, and thus can I say that (AFAIK) Child #102 has never been recorded by a traditional singer.

you have never at any time put forward and argument for why everybody else got it wrong and your pontifications (no great argument put forward for those either) are right.

I feel the revival is predicated on the myth that Folk Music is instrinically different from other music - as outlined in the 1954 Definition. As I've suggested elsewhere, there is nothing in the 1954 Defnition that can't be applied to any other genre of music, all of which are based on community and tradition. People are people; Music is music; Language is Language. I'm not suggesting that all music is, therefore, Folk Music*; rather that Folk Music is an idiomatic genre best understood musicologically as we would any other genre, and not in terms of a defination which tells us a much as the Horse Definition. That is what I believe to be true. I also believe that the Folk Myth, like the revival itself, is a manifestation of Imperialistic Class Condescension and reciprocal deference. Folk was defined from on high - not by the people who did it; its archives, methodology and infrastructure are entirely alien to the nature of the beast itself. You are a collector; you not part of the Tradition you claim to represent, though your perception of that tradition is a crucial factor in its existence. I believe there are still billions of species of marine life awaiting their correct name and status in the taxonomical scheme of things; until such a time, they just get on with it regardless.   

Like your approach to ballads - that's been done before

Isn't that in the nature of balladry though? To do things that have been done before? Like I say, I'm not trying to do anything new, rather seeing the ballads in terms of their own intrinsic freshness and how a more improvisatory approach works in practise. I can't think of anyone who's done anything quite like that in the revival, but I can think of plenty of Traditional Singers, from whom I take my cue. Each to their own though - where you see concensus and rules, I see idiosyncratic quirkiness and eccentricity. You're a Death Eater, Jim - still in service to the Dark Lord Manacle Cowl whose mission was the abolition of Joy on Earth. At least it was on the two or three occasions I saw him - I was depressed for days and one occasion was even moved to write a letter to Folk Roots under the name of Ralph Harris. It was published as 'Ewan Whose Army?' though sadly I no longer have a copy myself... I am a Fun Guy, not a Tyrant; I hate Tyrants and I hate Tyranny.

Dave Harker fell at the first fence thirty years ago with a similar approach - his out-with-the-baby and-the-bathwater technique and, as with you, his refusal to discuss his pronouncements tripped him up somewhat.

Well, I've got a copy of Harker's fabled Fakesong in the pile awaiting my attention (maybe once I'm done with Mike Barnes' examplary biography of Captain Beefheart which is costing me a small fortune in CDs as most of my vinyl got lost years ago, but then I've got Jeanette Leech's Seasons they Change and Drumbo's own book on Beefheart awaiting my attention too). I've skimmed it though, and found it remarkably uncontroversial given the reactions on here on Mudcat whenever it's mentioned. I found Georgina Boyes' Imagined Village far more harrowing as an account of the revival, confirming all my very worst fears, but most people don't seem to have an issue with this wholesale misappropriation, manipulation and reivention of working-class culture as being something it never was. It brought me out in hives; hence my Steamfolk idea, which was a personal salve to the issue really. Folk is a Myth; once you collect it, you only confirm that myth. Folk is also what people love; what people do; it's the creative work of thousands of singers and musicians who do it for JOY not occult correctness. They are Wizards and Witches - not Death Eaters.

If anything confirms your 'folkie' pedigree, it's your wonderful "TV evagelised Celtic Woman Sean Nos" - straight out of the American "Oirish" scene.

That was yours, Jim - which you confirm with your assesment of the Purity, Correctness and Authenticity of State Funded Irish Folk as oppose to bastardised versions we must suffer over here in the Third World multi-cultural UK. Personally, I know where I'd rather be if your churlish mutterings are anything to go by. As a cultural pragmatist I KNOW that Popular Culture Is What Popular Culture Does; you can't box it, preserve it, collect it, revive it, define it, or tell it what to do. You can observe it though, abd revel in the mutable beauty of the thing. It's like language and art, it's a living thriving TRADITION consequent on living thriving Human Individuals and the Communities to which they belong - be it Amy Winehouse, Davie Stewart, Eminem, Peter Bellamy, Robert Wyatt, Joe Heaney, Seamus Ennis, Bob Copper or Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Taking you back up to that earlier asterisk (*), I think you can say the same of The Folk Scene, which celebrates FOLK in similar terms, but rarely with the sort of Hermetical Correctness you might insist upon. The trick is to just love what you love, do what you do, and let others do likewise without calling them prats for doing it. If you can do this then... yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, and - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 09:03 AM

"Anyone who even dabbles is a musician"

On reflection, I was mistaken in embracing your term 'dabbling'. A dabbler is one who makes a self-conscious decision to dip a toe in the water of a particular musical style. Folk song, on the other hand, was perpetuated for generations by individuals who had simply grown up with the stuff and to whom it was as much a part of life as eating and breathing.

There's a difference in kind between the kid bashing out the chords to 'Wonderwall' on a cheap guitar, and the parent singing to their child a song that they learned by osmosis from their own parent or grandparent (not something that happens too much these days, I would guess).

Your cart is before your horse. The concept of folk song was devised, according to your amusing parody of Dave Spart, in a spirit of 'Imperialistic Class Condescension' (never mind that several of those you've criticized specifically celebrated it as working-class culture). You don't approve; therefore the very essence of the thing must be denied, regardless of all supportive evidence.

That said, I did enjoy the Magma clip.

For a precis of the 'Fakesong' controversy, go here - but surely it's about time somebody said something about Robin Hood Ballads?


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 09:52 AM

There's a difference in kind between the kid bashing out the chords to 'Wonderwall' on a cheap guitar, and the parent singing to their child a song that they learned by osmosis from their own parent or grandparent (not something that happens too much these days, I would guess).

I honestly don't think there is; it's traditional process, albeit compounded by other factors, but in essence it's exactly the same thing, no matter how cheap the guitar. You can imagine how things would turn out as the kid got better at it and used the lesson of Wonderwall as a basis for their own understanding of what is essentially a creative idiom, which is probably how Wonderwall came about in the first place as one out other of the Gallagher brothers put their Rutles / Beatles chops to work for them as songmakers, just as Lennon did before them on his own cheap guitar. These things still happen; they're intregral to the way music works as a process, just these days if we want music, we don't necessarily have to do it ourselves. Maybe that's the key here? But even in that context many would deny that much pre-tecnological domestic music making consisted of anything which we might call idiomatic Folk.

I've got the horse before the cart; even those who celebrated it as Working Class culture did it from on high and romanticised a very selective view of that culture in which Idiomatic Folk was the exception rather than the rule even to the point of falsifying the evidence (Blackleg Miner). Other music was very much in evidence, and still is, alive and well from brass bands to rock bands to hip hop crews and fluffy morris dancers. In context, and by definition of the 1954 Definition, Folk Music (and Folklore, Folkdance and Folktale) are all thriving concerns of Popular Culture, just none of it would be of any interest to Folkies, who would regard it as debased, factory manufactured and otherwise unworthy of romanticisation or Steamfolk reinvention, just as romanticised Steamfolk isn't generally associated with, or consumed by, the working classes.

Then we have Tommy Armstrong; a song writer of Folk Song and Ballad in the Traditional Idiom and revered by his community for his mastery of his craft.

Forgive my rambling; am presently very anxious about impending appointment at the dentists having lost one of my front teeth the other week....

*

Back on Thread. Has any of the various Robin Hood Ballads known from Child etc. ever been sound-recorded from a living traditional singer? And what of their melodies & sources thereof?


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 09:54 AM

Going back to 'Robin Hood' ballads! Can any learned folk explain to me whilst, if 'Robin' ever existed at all, it would seem to be in Edward II's reign, and not Richard I's, that all the tales/stories/ballads/ fils/plays etc.. all place him 100 + years out of time?


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 11 - 01:42 PM

Don't have time to plouter through your undergrowth of verbiage, now, will try later.
"relentless onslaught"
Once again you resort to dismissive and distorting cliches.
This started because I said I didn't think you are a good singer of ballads - I said why; you have not addressed the reasons I gave for believing what I said.
"Relentless onslaught" my arse, you're a folkie egotist who puts up your own singing expecting the world to fall at your feet and when it doesn't happen you throw a wobbler.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 05:23 AM

Sean:
Read through your offering, got nothing out of it – as usual, even after hacking my way though the superfluous and pontificating verbiage.
Last word, then I'll leave you to your armchair musings.
As long as I have argued with you, your attitude has been one of total, out-of –hand dismissal of the work of collectors, researchers, ballad and folk song scholars – never argument - that would have necessitated your having taken the trouble to examine their efforts – no sign of that ever having happened.
".... awaiting my attention"
Somewhat pompously put I thought.
Harker's 'Fakesong' was published half-a-century   ago; I found it a superficially nasty attack on easy (dead) targets, but at least he made the effort of reading their ideas, writing a book and having it published rather than making snide attacks from his armchair, and at least I took the trouble to read it (twenty five years ago).
You have persistently dismiss the work of collectors, despite the fact that you have never sung nor listened a single traditional song that has not passed through the hands of a collector.
You have written of the song tradition as a figment of the imagination, or even the deliberate invention of collectors; Greig and Duncan's magnificent 8 volume collection of songs made in one single Aberdeenshire parish; Tom Munnelly's 22,000 songs recorded from Irish traditional singers, Sharp's huge harvest from the south of England and the Southern Appalachians, Mike Yates, Hugh Shield, Seamus Ennis, Hamish Henderson, James M Carpenter..... charlatans or idiots or both.
And in return you offer – what? No debate, no argument, not even an indication that you have examined their work, beyond plundering it for songs; just out-of-hand dismissal with enough insulting clichés to fill a sizeable dictionary.
"I'm researching all the time,"
It doesn't show.
"Tradition you claim to represent"
Waste of time again I know but where have I (or any collector) ever claimed to "represent the tradition" - I've reported back on what we found and put our work up for public scrutiny, nothing more.
You continue to deal in shallow, facile and insulting cliches aimed at the work of others, but when it comes to discussion of the use you make of that work.....
When I have the temerity to criticise singing that you put up for public scrutiny it becomes a "relentless onslaught" - you leap on the nearest table and scream "mouse".
Give us a break.
Like all egotists you have proved yourself more than willing and able to dish it out, but when it comes to taking it.......
If you can't take criticism, stay at home and sing in the bath; I'm sure the rubber duck will be highly entertained.
As far as I'm concerned your singing indicates you to be a somewhat hackneyed folkie – nothing more.
"Hermetical Correctness" " Imperialistic Class Condescension" "Death Eater"
Yet more nasty and misleadingly dishonest cliches to add to the dictionary
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 06:57 AM

Read through your offering, got nothing out of it – as usual, even after hacking my way though the superfluous and pontificating verbiage.

I'm hardly surprised, Jim - though, as ever, I'll leave the superfluous pontificating up to you.

Last word, then I'll leave you to your armchair musings.

Is that a promise? I'm just about done in here.

As long as I have argued with you, your attitude has been one of total, out-of –hand dismissal of the work of collectors, researchers, ballad and folk song scholars – never argument - that would have necessitated your having taken the trouble to examine their efforts – no sign of that ever having happened.

I've never dismissed their work, just questioned their methods - the grounds, assumptions and consequent dilemmas arising. I have examined their efforts in great detail. The main dilemma is on one hand you have an uneducated class of Traditional Singers, and one the other an highly educated class of scholars who study them. There's the issue right there. If you find no problem with that, then fine. Obviously it's never occurred to you.

".... awaiting my attention"
Somewhat pompously put I thought.


I rarely get a chance to read these days, so I have a small pile of books awaiting my attention. What's pompous about that? Everything I say you insist on subjecting to a negative spin. It took forever tracking down a copy of Harker's book anyway, but after reading Georgina Boyes' The Imagined Village I just didn't have the heart to pursue it further. See above, you know? God knows the dilemma of social class / subject & object / myth & reality / wholesale reinvention, fantasy & agenda is writ large in The Revival so as to be integral to the thing.

Harker's 'Fakesong' was published half-a-century   ago; I found it a superficially nasty attack on easy (dead) targets, but at least he made the effort of reading their ideas, writing a book and having it published rather than making snide attacks from his armchair, and at least I took the trouble to read it (twenty five years ago).

I've skimmed it, and it seems pretty unremarkable to me, especially after Georgina Boyes' assessments which only serve to confirm the worst of it and yet no one has a problem with that whatsoever.

You have persistently dismiss the work of collectors, despite the fact that you have never sung nor listened a single traditional song that has not passed through the hands of a collector.

Like I say, I do not dismiss their work, just insist that we remain aware of the problems of The Collectors and The Collected, and how their findings are then interpreted according to a xeno-methodology that is contrary to the nature of the songs themselves. Taxidermy and Taxonomy are the order of the scholarly mind;, whereas the songs belong to another system entirely, if, indeed, they belong to a system at all. I agree that my familiarity with Folk Song is entirely due to collectors - I regularly celebrate the work of Max Hunter for example, and am deeply indebted to University of Missouri for making his archives so readily accessible (would that were the case over here) BUT that doesn't mean I have to agree with their assumptions, methods or conclusions. There will always be issues, but data is data, and often it's all too easy to overlook the fact. Generally, however, I take it in good faith, and in listening to a song, I do so as an artist, not a scholar.

You have written of the song tradition as a figment of the imagination, or even the deliberate invention of collectors

The songs, of course, aren't a figment, but much of what I have read about the nature of The Tradition is a figment - a theory - like the very notion of Folk itself, or the 1954 Definition, or The Folk Process. I would question if we might think of a Tradition at all given the fragmentary nature of even the best of it when all that results is an ossified version of the fluid culture that's being preserved. For me that's quite a huge contradiction. Why do we feel the need to preserve stuff? To collect it? To lament the loss of Traditional Culture when the people themselves are quite happy to see it go? These are important questions (not rhetorical ones!) especially as Folk them becomes a reactive aspect of post-modern bourgeois romanticism, however so smug in its inner-radicalism, wherein the sort of correctness you espouse serves as a hermetic seal on the sunshine-jar. What was once the pure JOY of common creative cultural expression is reduced to the dead weight of pseudo-religion.

Greig and Duncan's magnificent 8 volume collection of songs made in one single Aberdeenshire parish; Tom Munnelly's 22,000 songs recorded from Irish traditional singers, Sharp's huge harvest from the south of England and the Southern Appalachians, Mike Yates, Hugh Shield, Seamus Ennis, Hamish Henderson, James M Carpenter..... charlatans or idiots or both.

I could add to that list, but it doesn't change the basic dilemmas here - they are intrinsic to the nature of the beast and nothing is going to change that. I would have thought that it would be better to OWN these issues and dilemmas rather than reject them outright with yet another litany of well-intentioned scholars and idealists. I applaud these people, I really do, many of them of great heroes of mine, but it's always going to be an issue that specific Traditions were preserved by outsiders, and turned into something else entirely.

And in return you offer – what? No debate, no argument, not even an indication that you have examined their work, beyond plundering it for songs; just out-of-hand dismissal with enough insulting clichés to fill a sizeable dictionary.

Jim, I think I've been more than generous with my time in debating these issues with you over the years, much less over the last few days. I'm not given to insults either - those I leave to you, i.e.

"I'm researching all the time,"
It doesn't show.


Which is typical enough of your put-downs.

"Tradition you claim to represent"
Waste of time again I know but where have I (or any collector) ever claimed to "represent the tradition" -


So what the hell else are you doing it for?

I've reported back on what we found and put our work up for public scrutiny, nothing more.

So why these constant tirades and dismissals of the creative work of others?

You continue to deal in shallow, facile and insulting cliches aimed at the work of others, but when it comes to discussion of the use you make of that work.....

....I invariably rise to the occasion with good grace, as I feel I have done quite admirably throughout this present exchange.

When I have the temerity to criticise singing that you put up for public scrutiny it becomes a "relentless onslaught" - you leap on the nearest table and scream "mouse".

You don't criticise it, you subject it to received absolutes. There's a crucial difference here. If you don't like it then fair enough (truth to tell I'd be more worried if you did) but what baffles me is the implication of a secret school of critical correctness which has been the issue here all along. Folk is as Folk Does, like anything else.

Like all egotists you have proved yourself more than willing and able to dish it out, but when it comes to taking it.......
If you can't take criticism, stay at home and sing in the bath; I'm sure the rubber duck will be highly entertained.


The criticism doesn't bother me, Jim - what bothers me is when the critic resorts to ill-informed value judgements to justify their knee-jerks, to bolster their own lack of understanding by somehow being 'in the know'. Thus do you resort to limp little put-downs such as:

As far as I'm concerned your singing indicates you to be a somewhat hackneyed folkie – nothing more.

Which typifies your critical currency. Very poor, if I may say so.

"Hermetical Correctness" " Imperialistic Class Condescension" "Death Eater"
Yet more nasty and misleadingly dishonest cliches to add to the dictionary


Hardly dishonest. You constantly imply you are privy to secret knowledge of how to sing folk songs correctly, thus I assume you abide by a system of Hermetical Correctness. As for Imperialistic Class Condescension, I would have thought that much was obvious enough to even to most casual observer of The Folk Revival of the last 100 years and more - read Georgina Boyes' account. Death Eater is from J K Rowling's Harry Potter Books - the Death-Eaters are a fascistic elite devoted to a dictatorial tyrant intent on ridding the Magic World of liberalism and the influence of non-magical outsiders. The term for these outsiders in the books is Muggles, and I note (to my despair) that this term is now common in Folk circles in referring to non-Folkies, but that's by the by I'm sure.

Like I say, keep up the good work.


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Subject: RE: Robin Hood ballads
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 07:07 AM

100


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