Contemporary song in folk music
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Contemporary song in folk music

Richard Bridge 21 Jan 05 - 12:09 PM
breezy 21 Jan 05 - 11:46 AM
breezy 21 Jan 05 - 11:33 AM
PoppaGator 21 Jan 05 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Sooz (at work) 21 Jan 05 - 10:48 AM
SarahNash 21 Jan 05 - 10:33 AM
MurkeyChris 21 Jan 05 - 09:26 AM
Freso 21 Jan 05 - 09:17 AM
muppitz 21 Jan 05 - 07:45 AM
Leadfingers 21 Jan 05 - 07:14 AM
MurkeyChris 21 Jan 05 - 07:02 AM
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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 12:09 PM

In order to clarify your frame of reference you need to think about your definitions.

I'll be back when I have scanned a presentation I listened to at Nottingham University in about 1967. Alas I have lost the name of the singer/scholar who presented it.

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: breezy
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 11:46 AM

every 2 years the Maidenhead folk club hold a song contest
This year it will take place on the final thursday in March, I think.
Entry forms and rules are now available.
Last time there were 18 entries. this will be the nth time its taken place the club has been in existance for over 32 years.
If you aint acquainted with it maybe its worth getting to know
Jez was there recently
The winning song 2 years ago was a fantastic Folk song called The Bevin Boys narrating the story of life as a Bevin Boy, written by Tony Geen who has other songs of quality, but getting to hear him is avery rae treat. Extremely well researched and cleverly written with a 2, 2, chorus.!
I'm lucky to know it and to perform it.
Anyone can enter
There is a web site.
its on the A4 7 miles east of Reading,at the 7 stars
Be there on that night and se what turns up, I know I will incase there are other class gems to hear.

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: breezy
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 11:33 AM

Jez Lowe is trad influenced and takes his inspiration from his environment
Brian Bedford writes songs that I would not classify as Folk, more philosophical,very little fact.

George Papavgeris has written 'Folk' songs and has been praised by the ilk of Andy Irvine - O K he's not English--Vin Garbutt and Cyril Tawney of whom you must realise wrote folk songs since the 50s

We can discuss Harvey Andrews later.

If you believe that folk song is about lives and events, documentaryism and narratives then you will understand my concept

ChecKed out Stan Rogers yet? one true writer from Canada, sadly killed in 82 at an early age.Influenced by Archie Fisher as well as his own background if you look at his earliest album before Fogarty's cove. Dan Mckinnon is another Canadian who comes over here in April from Nova Scotia and sounds like Rogers.

St Albans tonight with Mike Deavin who writes about contemporary issues in a contemporary way and was influence by the trad, at the Royal British Legion, Verulam Road, St Albans.
Devils Elbow on Sunday same venue

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 11:08 AM

Well, they're American rather than British, but the Grateful Dead songwriting team of Hunter/Garcia ~ especially lyricist Robert Hunter ~ are a pretty unique in how they wrote songs drawing upon American folksong traditions. While most of the arrangements and performances were more "rock" than "folk" in terms of overall sound, the melodies and lyrics were in many cases *very* traditional.

Many of Hunter's song titles either duplicated titles of traditional songs or quoted memorable lines of traditional songs, e.g., "Shake Sugaree," "Mississippi Uptown Toodleoo," to name just two off the top of my head.

The above, of course, may be more pertinent to readers of this thread than to MurkeyChris, who is concentrating on British song.

In the Brit universe, I would second the nomination of Ewan MacColl, many of whose most famous songs are *often* mistaken for traditional folksongs. You *can't* leave him out of that dissertation!

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: GUEST,Sooz (at work)
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 10:48 AM

Writers of contemporary songs (Jez Lowe, Brian Bedford, Anthony John Clarke) are not the same as contemporary writers of traditional style songs (Kate Rusby, Ewan MacColl and even myself although in a remedial class). Does that make sense? I find the latter is much easier.

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: SarahNash
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 10:33 AM

I'd also recommend Ewan MacColl - a bit earlier than the people listed so far - but I've mistaken at least one of his songs as trad.

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: MurkeyChris
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 09:26 AM

Thanks guys. BTW that's Leon not Leonard Rosselson, thought I'd get that in before someone else catches me out!


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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: Freso
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 09:17 AM

  1. One of my favorite song writers, from Scotland: Andy M. Stewart
  2. Sorry, no.
  3. No, I'm not. Yet? :p
  4. The old folk musicians of Denmark have always (well, from we know from interviews with the ones that were about since we got out and interviewed them some fifty/fifty+ years back) used pop(ular) songs from revues and, later on, the radio - they weren't even written to a traditionally inspired tune! What do I want to say with this? Good question ;)
  5. Well, depends on what you want with the song, but I don't think it's a necessity. Some of the contemporary Danish folk songs use words that are fairly modern, but the tunes are still hopsas, polkas, waltzes, polskas, and so on and forth.
  6. Søren Korshøj, from Denmark, generally writes songs for either traditional melodies and contemporary ones with traditional 'rules'. Such as hopsas, schottisches, and so on. I think this is where I would probably set the limit. If one wrote a song for a tune which has next to none resemblance to anything known in any tradition, and called it a 'folk song'... well, I wouldn't agree with them ;)
  7. Not right now, no :)

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: muppitz
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 07:45 AM

Jez Lowe's songwriting is worth a mention, he has an inimitable style, and makes the full use of his heritage and personal history, also, he never tries to cover up his own accent, the likes of Ronan Keating, who always sings like he is an American, when he is in fact Irish, could learn from him.

I have written a few songs in what I would call a folky style, they are either about my own life experience or related to my life, or about English history in general.
What I have learnt from writing songs for a Folk audience is that you are free to write about whatever you please, if it is a good song it will be appreciated.

An interesting question has just popped into my head, how many songs do you know that have been in the charts about Mining that aren't to do with the Miner's Strike? I can't personally think of any.

Most folk songs Traditional or otherwise, I have found, tell a story.

A lot of abstract thoughts, I apologise, but hopefully you can pick something constructive out of it.

muppitz x

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Subject: RE: Contemporary song in folk music
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 07:14 AM

Dave webber is worth inclusion - He writes songs that sound traditional and about traditional subject matter for the most part !
And Music Hall had a lot of influence on later trad song , and hence on people who were writing for the Folk scene .

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Subject: Contemporary song in folk music
From: MurkeyChris
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 07:02 AM

Hi all,

As you may know I'm a Music & English student at Reading uni, and am doing my dissertation on the role of contemporary song in folk music. By this I mean I will be looking at modern songwriters such as Richard Thompson, Kate Rusby, Eliza Carthy, Leonard Rosselson, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, Steve Knightley etc. etc. and analysing how far traditional musical styles feed into their songwriting, and equally how much these songs can be viewed as an element of 'folk music'. I'll be sticking to the English language songs and traditions, and focussing on British music, but feel free to bring up anything from elsewhere you think might be relevant.

As there is little academic literature on the subject, a vast part of my work will be based on the opinions of you lot, the musicians, supporters and fans of the folk music scene. Whilst I'll probably have some more specific questions for you at a later date, I thought it would be a good start to throw the topic out to you all and hear what you have to say.

All comments are welcome, but here's some ideas to think about:

1) What songwriters that I haven't mentioned should I look at?

2) Do you know of any specific books, articles, websites etc. that would be of use?

3) Are you a songwriter yourself? How do you relate to traditional song styles?

4) Are modern 'composed' songs (as opposed to anonymous 'traditional' songs) a part of the folk repertoire and should they be?

5) How important/relevant are 'pastiche' styles of songwriting, e.g. Kate Rusby using antiquated language in her modern songs?

6) Do you have any specific comments on how certain songwriters utilise traditonal styles?

7) Anything else to say on the matter?

Please feel free to ramble away in as much detail as possible, it will be of invaluable help to me. By replying this post I am assuming that you give your permission for me to use your quotes in my dissertation (which will hopefully be reworked into a magazine article for fRoots or the like at a later date). If you don't want me to quote you please say so in your post.

Thanks, Chris

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