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So what is *Traditional* Folk Music?

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GUEST,ray taylor 02 Apr 13 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 13 Jan 07 - 01:27 PM
Soldier boy 11 Dec 06 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 11 Dec 06 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 11 Dec 06 - 06:27 PM
The Sandman 11 Dec 06 - 05:46 PM
The Sandman 11 Dec 06 - 05:43 PM
The Sandman 11 Dec 06 - 02:03 PM
Folkiedave 10 Dec 06 - 03:10 PM
Soldier boy 10 Dec 06 - 02:49 PM
Soldier boy 10 Dec 06 - 02:49 PM
The Sandman 10 Dec 06 - 02:45 PM
GUEST 10 Dec 06 - 12:05 PM
Folkiedave 10 Dec 06 - 05:26 AM
The Sandman 10 Dec 06 - 05:22 AM
GUEST 10 Dec 06 - 04:22 AM
Soldier boy 09 Dec 06 - 09:56 PM
The Sandman 09 Dec 06 - 05:16 PM
GUEST 09 Dec 06 - 03:35 PM
Folkiedave 09 Dec 06 - 10:07 AM
The Sandman 09 Dec 06 - 08:40 AM
Folkiedave 09 Dec 06 - 07:36 AM
The Sandman 09 Dec 06 - 06:57 AM
Folkiedave 09 Dec 06 - 05:48 AM
The Sandman 09 Dec 06 - 05:14 AM
GUEST 08 Dec 06 - 07:43 PM
The Sandman 08 Dec 06 - 05:58 PM
Folkiedave 08 Dec 06 - 03:16 PM
GUEST 08 Dec 06 - 02:44 PM
Folkiedave 08 Dec 06 - 04:24 AM
GUEST 08 Dec 06 - 03:47 AM
Folkiedave 07 Dec 06 - 05:06 PM
GUEST 07 Dec 06 - 04:36 PM
The Sandman 07 Dec 06 - 12:57 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 07 Dec 06 - 12:05 PM
Scrump 07 Dec 06 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 07 Dec 06 - 10:32 AM
The Sandman 07 Dec 06 - 09:09 AM
Folkiedave 07 Dec 06 - 07:57 AM
The Sandman 07 Dec 06 - 04:55 AM
GUEST 07 Dec 06 - 04:43 AM
Scrump 07 Dec 06 - 04:35 AM
Ruth Archer 07 Dec 06 - 04:13 AM
GUEST 07 Dec 06 - 03:47 AM
The Sandman 06 Dec 06 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,Steal I Spam 05 Dec 06 - 04:39 PM
The Sandman 05 Dec 06 - 03:55 PM
Soldier boy 28 Nov 06 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,John P 28 Nov 06 - 08:43 AM
GUEST 28 Nov 06 - 07:33 AM
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Subject: RE: So what is *Traditional* Folk Music?
From: GUEST,ray taylor
Date: 02 Apr 13 - 11:06 AM

I'm looking for a tape,which I lost some time ago[still have sleeve]"Tales of Derwentdale "by john Thorpe and Michael Kelly.i see that you have referred to it on your web?


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 13 Jan 07 - 01:27 PM

To take a fresh tack based on a singer's practical needs and pleasures, let's think about "Era" for a moment.

I sing a very wide variety of songs including banjo tunes, ballads, blues, cowboy songs, broadsides, ancient stuff derived from 19th century pop, prairie songs, love lyrics, work songs, etc. They are almost all folksongs ... traditional songs ... whatever term you prefer.

As to origin, they come from the Anglo-American and African-American traditions. (I love many other kinds of folksongs from Mexican, French and Spanish to subcontinental Indian and Chinese, but they aren't in my repertoire, I just hum them around the house. So I'm leaving those out of consideration here.)

I strongly like some contemporary songs and singers. But in what I really sing -- that must be some kind of acid test, don't you think? -- "era" matters. In short, I find in selecting repertoire I rarely if ever choose a song **newer** than about 1940.

Aha! Found out! you cry. A pre-WWII song chauvinist! And it's true. And why is this?
Simply stated, I just have not found many, if any post-1940 songs that feel essential to my musical heart and soul.

This is pretty harsh of me. It eliminates, for example, some songs I love. Just a few examples off the top of my head, "I Saw Her As She Came and Went," "Got My Mojo Workin'," "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "Everybody's Talkin'", Mike Heron's "Hedgehog Song," the wonderful "Geronimo's Cadillac," "Abilene," "Goofus," and "Dirty Old Town" would be some of many, not to mention "Mustang Sally," "Tie Me Kangaroo Down," Tom Waits' exquisite "Tom Traubert's Blues," and "Heartbreak Hotel," which I find riveting quite apart from Elvis.

(By the way it also eliminates every last one of the literally thousands of songs I personally have written, including "Before They Close the Minstrel Show," "Lonesome Robin," "Weaver Bird," "Web of Birdsong," etc., so don't say I'm not principled!)

What seems to matter for me, in staying closest to pre-1940s songs, is style and outlook.

Doesn't matter to me that "somebody known wrote it." Some of the songs I sing are indeed of known authorship, like W. S. Hays' "Curtains of Night" ("I'll Remember You Love in My Prayers:), just to pick one. That's not a barrier.

Arbitrarily choosing a year like this seems puerile and trivial. But before 1940 (and dating back into the 15th century -- roughly as far back as folksongs have survived for us) -- the kinds of songs I have come to love throughout a long life as singer and sometimes performer were generated and sung in styles I have come to feel at home with. After 1940 they weren't. It's that simple.

I'm not alone. Godrich and Dixon, in their standard blues discography, break off after 1942 -- for many reasons, among which are the coming of electric blues and distinct changes in style after WWII due to the national, cultural and racial intermixing the war caused. (Wars always create artistic style breaks for this reason.)

Tony Russell followed suit in his Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942.

Since 1940 collectors of traditional folksongs have at times found good songs -- Frank Warner is an example -- but the songs they collected almost invariably dated back before 1940.

It's not just a matter of my chosen field, traditional songs. Even the popular songs before 1940 were distinctly different from their successors post-1940 to the present. Different in every way, but most of all in viewpoint, and thus in sound. Swing began to destroy the pre-1940s gestalt, rock finished it off -- for better or worse, and I do NOT imply a value judgment in this, I'm only stating a fact.

Showing my age (69) I guess ... but I prefer to sing and play songs that dated from before I was three years old.

So, for me, "traditional songs" are the core of a preference of musical era as well as a preference of genre. They simply sound right to me, as songs. And as a practical matter those kinds of songs don't date any newer than 1940. Regardless how I may dote on newer songs, I, a strongly tradition-influenced American revival singer, don't personally sing them. It's not a matter of self-limiting -- I'd be glad to sing newer stuff if it worked for me. But it just doesn't seem to "go with" me and doesn't feel as good, and would not, somehow, mix well with the core stuff I do.

Oddly, it would be easier to mix "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "April Showers" with my repertoire -- those are two of many pop songs of the same era -- than to mix in more modern things. I don't entirely know why. Does that make me an old fart? (Don't answer that.)

All this contradicts what I've said above, where I've argued that traditional song keeps making itself and will do so on into the indefinite future. That's the difference between ideal and practical points of view.

My singer's viewpoint is very far away from, and less internally consistent than, the points discussed above about legal rights and definitions. This is just one singer's day-to-day preference and bone-marrow feeling as to what is, or is not, his repertoire. My guess is that any of us, as singers, will tend to make these sorts of private definitions about our own songlist preferences based on "feel" -- which may be very different from our attempts to set up definitions or assert idealistic or logical categories.

Not sure how useful, or not, this is. Reading it over, I tend to think not very. Yet similar assertions of preference are implicit everywhere behind the contributions to this thread. In the interests of clarity, I thought it might be interesting to take this different view and see how it plays out.

Wow, what a subject. Easier not to think about, and just sing.   Bob


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Soldier boy
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 08:16 PM

Sincere thanks Frank Hamilton for your very thorough and very interesting replies to some of my ideas. This is much appreciated.

Whether we agree or disagree on some points it doesn't matter because all your points are very well considered and just as valid as mine are.

As you say "..this opens a door to discovery which is always a good thing." I think this applies to this whole thread and the many contributors that have added to this fascinating debate.

Many of the points I have raised on this thread have been ideas to throw into the pot to invite and stimulate debate rather than firm and unshiftable convictions. This is because I am still learning and benefiting from all the knowledge and opinions expressed on this thread to date.

When I started this thread I never envisaged the can of worms I had opened. This is a massive subject worthy of detailed discussion and has attracted such diverse and conflicting views that I realise that no one can have the final and definitive answer.

But it is well worth the adventure and the journey of discovery.
Bit by bit I think we are getting there!


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 06:55 PM

Soldier Boy, I want to address your ideas.

"1.When I started this thread I intended to raise a question and not to challenge your attitudes."

I think that this is a valid point and the discussion is a worthy one.

"2.I do not believe that "TRADITIONAL" Folk Music means that the original authors must be both unknown and dead or out of copyright. This is just symptomatic of the age when they were spawned without todays advantage of instant recording and down loading via CD/DVD and internet etc."

One of the problems is that CD, DVD, Internet may get in the way of finding traditional folk music because of its inordinate commercial influence on a "folk culture". There have been articles written by ethnomusicologists and folklorists on a kind of "music imperialism" that tended to dictate a choice of music because of the media.


"Levels of education,literacy and the ability to communicate to the masses was very poor so only the most "popular" and therefore handed down songs survived. These songs survived because they were 'catchy', had a strong CHORUS and expressed shared and meaningful feelings and emotions of the time. So it is a 'filtering' process."

To the degree that these songs were evolved through a teaching experience in a given folk sub-culture this is true. Where it breaks down is when the word "popular" is used. We know that "popular music" has become a business which has as its goal selling songs to the public through a commercialized marketing technique. This is antithetical to how songs are transmitted in a living folk sub-culture. In the latter, the media becomes incidental and the marketing irrelevant.

"3.I do also think that "Tradition" is a process of evolution and is not dead. It really is a stream of continuous motion and is timeless. Many of todays "contemporary singers/Traditional-style singers and composers" will create the TRADITIONAL Folk Music of the future. Just because something is "New" does not mean it is not of value. They will live on to form part of the "tradition" for generations to follow."

The "filtering process" that you refer to is happening now in spite of what the media offers as "popular" music. Under our noses, there is a rich folk sub-culture taking place now that we as "folkies" don't even know about. Maybe it involves rap music or other sub-culture-based music.

"The definition of 'traditional' is indeed starting to creak. It is time for a re-think. Why do we love and embrace the past so much yet feel unwilling to equally embrace the present and the future?"

It's not that the past is the focus. It's more about the evolution of a folk-based musical sub-culture that many of us were highly motivated to seek out and discover. For example, the blues. This was an outgrowth of a rural community of African-Americans in the South that eventually found its way to the big city. Why is say "Blind Lemon Jefferson" or "Son House" so important? Well, you don't hear them on the major media but they tell us about the history of African-Americans in our country. The blues tradition goes on today in spite of the media and like the Griots of old, they tell of what happened to our country at various times of our history. This is not necromancy but an attempt to understand our "roots" as a musical nation.


"We owe it to our desendents to express the here and now with our heart felt emotions and observations with less of the seemingly heart felt need to cling,limpit-like, to comfort-inducing images of the past - e.g rather sad, in my view, churning out songs about fishermen,plough boys,milk maids, farmers, hunters,old battles,fair maidens,harvesting,love lost and love gained etc."

Here I agree and disagree at the same time. The "churning out" of songs about fishermen etc. is not really done these days. Many have been collected and rediscovered and in so doing their value is inherent. There are many songwriters writing in a folk-style without being part of a "folk" sub-culture that's isolated or homogenous. It's not that these songs are not important. It's just that the emphasis is different. The "traditional" songs are unearthed through collections and study by those who are interested and can't be replaced by contemporary singer-songwriters who by in large are more influenced by the popular music of the media. There are exceptions such as Jean Ritchie for example who writes beautiful songs but reflect a rich folk heritage that spans generations.


"We always seem to give value to "traditional" and see contemporary as cheap. This is indeed a time warp that needs to be finally shot dead and terminated. Our emotions and feelings are just as relevant today as they were 300 years ago."

Here I emphatically disagree. No self-respecting folklorist or ethnomusicologist would see all contemporary songwriting as "cheap". This is a huge generalization. Our emotions and feelings are different than they were 300 years ago. This is why there is such a fascination for wanting to discover how people felt historically through the tradition-based music.

"Otherwise we create a black hole and our contempory age gets sucked into oblivion."

Respect for tradtion-based music (historical connections), folk sub-cultures will not create any black holes except for the hide-bound poseur who hasn't taken the time to listen to traditional culture-based music handed down through the centuries. There will always be those who have a "folkier-than-thou" attitude about the music and they can be found dressed in anachronistic clothes and insular and self-conscious about their music.

"Nuff said and many thanks for all your very valuable and very well considered input. Please keep it coming if I haven't already turned you off"

Your questions are valid and this opens a door to discovery which is always a good thing.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 06:27 PM

The word "traditional" has different meanings in different contexts. The folklorist has a guage by which he/she measures what it traditional by studying the texts of songs and stories told in a sub-culture, generally isolated.

The ethnomusicoligist studies a body of music and compares the style to see if it reflects a culture that dates back many years.

"Traditional" is a term that many have recently applied to a sub-culture-based music collected in rural areas or places where the popular media has not influenced it inordinately but it has survived in spite of the media (radio, recordings, TV etc.)

It could be that "traditional" music is not necessarily folk music if the songs no longer represent a particular sub-culture but are "museum pieces".

The obvious question is whose tradition? Jazz and so-called classical music have a tradition but these may be measured differently by their practitioners.

I think if you put a particular style of music along with traditional, it makes it clear.
"Traditional anglo-American ballads", "Traditional sea chanteys", etc. Then you are talking about a body of work that survives many years not associated with one particular composer or artist but reflects a sub-culture that teaches this way of playing to those within its confines.

I have more to say so I'll post another.

Frank


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 05:46 PM

I am not sure if this includes prostitutes, singing hit me with your rhythym stick.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 05:43 PM

well so far no one has rejected sea shanties,although they are comparitively recent compared to some.
A L LLOYD says The modern form of capitalism that gave rise to the great shipping lines,produced at the same time, the striking body of primitive folk songs that we call shanties.
john mearns[Scottish folklorist, singer broadcaster]remarked in an interview,that songs such as DRUMDELGIE , were not only sung in the bothys for recreation,but used as work songs by the farm labourers,different songs with different rhythms ,were used for ploughing or hand milking.
so logically we should also accept,songs sung in the american chaingang,scottish waiuking songs,and any songs that are used to assist manual labour[even if they are composed].


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 02:03 PM

I suppose we wont be able to sing wren hunting songs soon.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 03:10 PM

I agree about excluding songs from the repertoire.

However there is another point here. Singing what we might call for now traditional songs has certainly survived within this area at shepherd meets and in particular amongst the hunting fraternity. Now I have sung along about various hounds with Willy Scott many times in the past and remarkably good it was too. Other groups have made records of hunting songs and good fun they have been to sing along with too.

And yet since the end of legal fox hunting I and others have noticed a qualitative difference in that the songs were not just sung for the pleasure of singing but also "with feeling" if you like, indeed a non-sympathiser said to me "These buggers sing as if they mean it".

And yet I have spent a very enjoyable lunchtime singing about God with great gusto including "Worship, worship, worship Christ the Lord" a sentiment accompanied by a pint of really fine beer - indeed helped along with it and with which I am not normally associated (the sentiment that is, not the beer). Others might have seen me singing along and said "He sings as if he means it".

Again no answers but a number of questions.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Soldier boy
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 02:49 PM

400.......wow!!!


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Soldier boy
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 02:49 PM

Quite agree Cap'n.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 02:45 PM

Once we start excluding any songs from the repertoire, are we not in danger of weakening the tradition, and ending up with a bland, boring,cosy, repertoire of inoffensive middle of the road musac.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 12:05 PM

Cap'n,
I agree with you about the whaling songs.
The main point is that most of them are not actually about whaling, but rather about the conditions the men had to work under. They are, to my mind the most importand, certainly the most graphic songs in the English repertoire.
Dave - see my posting on re-definers thread (more later - have to go - my dinner's being poured out.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 05:26 AM

As I believe that the tradition began to die with the break up of the (mainly rural) communities and is now dead

I'd struggle to agree with you here Jim. After all Cecil Sharp predicted much the same thing which is why he raced around on his bicycle collecting like mad, and only in rural communities. It was the same at the time of the amalgamation of the two folk societies in the early thirties (sorry I can't check the date - off carolling in a minute or two!!)

And yet we discovered the tradition of the Odcombe Carols in the 1970's; Gordon Hall with his amazing talent had been missed by the early revival; as far as I know his mother from whom he learnt his songs was never recorded; I personally discovered a tradition in the year 2000 which had been passed over by every single folklorist for (now) 158 years.

I suspect you may be right Jim, I doubt there is much left we haven't found - but I dare not be certain like Sharp was.

As far as prescribing what people sing - I suspect with Ewan and Peggy it was simply the wrong approach!! They did a fantastic non-political set for a folk club I helped to run. We booked them to talk on the "Long Harvest" set and sing comparative songs as they went along.

And a magical night it was too.

I'll save the discussion on politically correct songs for another time. Martin Carthy and "Prince Heathen" anyone?


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 05:22 AM

very good. jim.my own personal take on singing, whaling songs,is ;
    If it brings the subject to peoples consciousness,why not.The Coasts of Peru for example is a powerful and graphic description of how it was.It doesnt follow that the singer, thinks whaling is a good thing.,I am sure you agree.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 04:22 AM

Soldier Boy and Cap'n are right; this has become somewhat shunted up a blind alley - my fault as much as anybody's - sorry.
It is inevitable that we discuss the clubs and their attitude to the music when we attempt to define our terms; speaking for myself, this is where I came in (The Spinners Club, Sampson And Barlows Restaurant, London Road, Liverpool, circa 1960).
I think the problem, when dealing with 'The Tradition', is that quite often we move away from the subject and inevitably begin discussing what has happened to it in the hands of the folk clubs. As I believe that the tradition began to die with the break up of the (mainly rural) communities and is now dead, I think our experience is of a somewhat distorted form of its remnents. The club experience has inevitably had an effect on out view of what is traditional (I believe tradition and folk are synonymous) - it's a little like judging Newgrange or Knossos by what they have become at the hands of the re-builders.
Cap'n touched on one example in his last posting; that of the imposition of modern standards to old songs so that no-go areas are created. I haven't personally experienced singers being told that they can't sing certain types of song because they might offend sections of the audience, though I have been told that the preventing the singing of 'sexist' songs is fairly common. I know Ewan and Peggy and other members of The Critics Group were often requested (and constantly ignored) not to sing political songs. The nearest thing to it I have experienced was in a non-singing situation where I was told I should never sing whaling songs due to our (quite correct) modern take on the brutal slaughter of these creatures.
Attitudes such as these are bound to colour our concept of folk and the tradition.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Soldier boy
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 09:56 PM

Nice one guys. You are back in full flood and I am enjoying your discussions, but let's have less of the animosity please.
Let's not get personal and enjoy civil discourse.
Thank you.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 05:16 PM

well dave, this has no relevance to the thread,
on the first occassion it was a feminist member of the socialst workers party, telling me I should not sing The Bald Headed end of The Broom.
the second occassion was a clubIN QUORN[ No political songs please ].
the third occassion was a club in Oxfordshire.
Now dave eyre, if youve never heard me sing you couldnt have been to many folk clubs and festivals in the last thirty years,ive been there myself plenty.
now can we get back to the thread please.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 03:35 PM

Cap'n
I would echo Dave's comments
Regarding John Brune's behaviour - you can get it from the horses mouth in the interview with Sheila Stewart by Bob Pegg in The Living Tradition; No 42. April 2001. My reply is in the following edition. The ironocal thing is that the story has always been told as being against MacColl - it never occured to the tellers the enormous damage Brune's vindictive 'prank' would have done to Travellers if it had gone unchecked.
I too have great regard for Reg Hall with one qualification; he and others of his time in the revival have an enormous flea up their collective arses regarding MacColl; so much so that Reg found it necessary to provide deliberately misleading information on MacColl and Lloyd's influence on the early revival. On the first of the Folk Brittania programmes he produced a record sleeve purporting to represent MacColl and Lloyd's desire to form 'folk ensembles' similar to those found in Eastern Europe. The impression given was that the notes were written by either MacColl or Lloyd or both. In fact they were written by an American collector and had nothing to do with either of them.
Yes - I had an enormous respect for MacColl, and always will have.
Will be happy to discuss with you who else I have respect for.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 10:07 AM

Dick, since I have never heard you sing live or on record, I am unlikely to make personal attacks on your singing. I meant precaisely what I wrote - I have no objection to your singing what the hell you want to sing. Period, no qualifications.

You wrote "I am not going to tolerate anyone telling me what I should sing".

Who was this Dick?


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 08:40 AM

I replied with a no,to your message 9 dec 5 48 am,please read my posts.
Whoever has heard of anyone being forced to listen to anything at a folk club..
EWAN MACOLL did tell an acquaintance of mine not to sing blues because they were not american.
   folkie Dave, your message is rather close to a personal attack on my singing.
whatever JimCarroll might think of John Brun is irrelevant.JohnBrun essay on traditional folk music was introduced by me because i thought it was valid and appropriate to the discussion. John Brun was respected by Reg Hall thats good enough for me. noW pleasE no more digressions or personal attacks .


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 07:36 AM

I will say no more Is that a promise?

Clearly not.

Who has told you what you should or should not sing Dick?

I will defend your right to sing anything you like, so long as you defend my right not to listen to it.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 06:57 AM

no.let other viewers,make up their minds, on Brun and also Kennedy.,
I DONT KNOW WHO Jim Carroll approves of apart from maccoll, he disapproves of Mike Harding As well[see why well run folk clubs thread ]a man who has written some quality serious songs. he disapproves of folk cabaret[ but not if its maccoll putting on a show].
JIM did you like the shows, put on by the Weavers and Pete Seeger,What were their shows apart from Folk Caberet.
Pete Seeger was the master of putting social comment across using the medium of entertainment, Or is it that you only approve[like maccoll]when its a message you agree with.
for the record I am an admirer of the Weavers, Pete Seeger, Maccoll,but I am not going to tolerate anyone telling me what I should sing.
I agree that what Brun did on that occasion was a mistake[probably his idea of a joke],but it shouldnt detract from all the good things that he did ,it also illustates to me the houmourlessness of Maccoll and his acolytes.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 05:48 AM

I will say no more

Is that a promise?


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 05:14 AM

toJimCarroll; Reg Hall, judging by his obituary,available at musical traditions,clearly thinks differently to you.
I have his book the Roving songster it is very good, his insight into What is traditional folk music is just as valid as yours.
so John Brun is dismissed by you as a tosser,your opinion of Peter Kennedy seems of the same ilk,,I will say no more.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 07:43 PM

Respected by whom? Sorry Cap'n - not by me.
If you don't accept his behaviour towards The Travelling People radio ballad happened as described, please say so; if you think his behaviour was acceptable; please say so.
Having worked with Travellers and being aware of their problems; I believe that anybody who behaves the way he did is a tosser.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 05:58 PM

whatever your personal feelings to John Brun,he is a respected collector,and his views in 1965,give a different insight into [so what is traditional music ].
despite your views, it is the view of Reg Hall that John Brun introduced the Stewarts to Maccoll, and was a great help to the travelling community and was highly respected by them.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 03:16 PM

Thanks for that Jim, I forget the pernicious influence of TV - having never owned one. And as one of my students once said to me "Does that mean you don't have a video either?"


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 02:44 PM

Dave,
We started recording Travellers in July 1973; Our recording sessions took a set form: record your singer in his or her home, go to the pub, then go back to the site where somebody would light a fire and people would sing, swap yarns, deal horses, whatever.
After six weeks we had recorded so many songs that we had to stop in order to index what we were getting and form a plan of work.
It was eighteen months before we started again, by which time the fireside sessions had totally disappeared and nobody was singing - the reason - everbody had portable televisions.
As far as I am aware this remains the case. Since May 1975, among the travellers we know, the only singing that has been done was into our microphone.
Asking others working with (Irish) Travellers, this seems to be the general situation. There are going to be no new songs taken into the tradition if there is no tradition to take them into.
Happily this is not the case with teh music; there has been a big move back to Traditional music here in Ireland, thanks largely to the healthy state of settled music (and the assistance of oraganisations like Limerick University Music Dept. and (I think similarly Galway U.
It hasn't happened (yet) with singing, but we can all keep our fingers crossed I suppose.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 04:24 AM

fuller versions with changes that came from the creative efforts of the Travellers rather than from mishearing.

Could we posssibly be too early? I just wonder if the song needs to spend longer, spread around more in order to get articulated better? It could even become a different song? Also I was trying to envisage circumstances where by Travellers learnt this song. If it was off the radio directly from the original broadcast? Off a recording? Off non-travellers?

That's more questions than answers this morning!!


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 03:47 AM

Hi Dave,
I'm never sure on this one. The versions we have recorded (there are others) tend to be in fragmentary form and somewhat garbled. One singer we met claimed to have written Freeborn Man himself. I feel somehow that if they had passed into the Travellers tradition there would have been more articulate, fuller versions with changes that came from the creative efforts of the Travellers rather than from mishearing. I do know Ewan was extremely pleased when he heard the Travellers had taken to it.
One of the quotes I like best about his songs was in American scholar Professor Horace Beck's book Folklore And The Sea which describes Shoals of Herring as 'typical of the songs popular among fishing fleets today'.
I agree with you about the end of 'The Travelling People'; it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck twitch. Parker's reaction to 'Labour councillor and Justice of the Peace' Harry Watton's "exterminate" statement was the only time Charles ever spoke on a Radio Ballad. I was told (by Charles) that the producers' refusal to remove the statement from the programme was the reason there were no more Radio ballads.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:06 PM

The end of that show is still (to me) one of the most moving pieces pieces of broadcasting I have ever heard.

I was told it was Charles Parker who had the final word. (I thought it was Ewan). If you are not sure what I am talking about move heaven and earth to find a recording and listen.

But for whatever reason - just the most brilliant programme. Shame it was the last of the Radio Ballads that Charles, Ewan and Peggy et al. did together.

Thanks for that Jim and to bring the thread title into play again - does recording Ewan's songs from the tradition as you - and I believe Mike Yates has also done - make them traditional?

Or have we done that before - I forget!!!!


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:36 PM

No to all your suggetions Cap'n,
MacColl wrote numerous songs for 'The Travelling People' Radio Ballad. He didn't claim them to be of either traditional or Traveller origin. Brune turned up with a recording of himself pretending to be a Traveller woman singing Travellers songs and one of these was scripted in for Sheila Stewart to sing (and was actually recorded by her).
They were presented in the script as genuine Traveller songs.
At the last minute Brune revealed his practical joke and in order to make the information presented in the programme accurate Sheila's section was dropped - well done John Brune.
The Travelling People was probably the most important piece of work dealing with Travellers and their living conditions ever made - before or since, and it helped to put Travellers on the map. The Travellers we met thougt highly of the programme and the songs MacColl wrote for it (we've recorded severeal versions of Freeborn Man from Travellers.
Brune might well have sabotaged the whole thing had he not fessed up at the last minute, allowing the programme makers to carry out a damage limitation excecise.
Jim Carroll
PS Thank you Folkie dave; I wish I'd said that - in fact I did on another thread (without having read yours - sorry).


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 12:57 PM

to Jim Carroll.I believe Macoll contributed Thirty foot trailer and FREEBORN MAN to the radio ballads,.
what was the problem with Brun contributing his own songs were they not good enough ,or was it that Macoll didnt want any other contemporary songs other than his own.
I am curious as to why Brun allegedly tried to pass off his own songs as traditional[Having seen some of his songs I think they are ok, but not as good as Macolls].Brun clearly didnt put great store by the word traditional ,he wrote songs in a traditional style as did Maccoll.
fINALLY many other songwriters have passed off their songs as traditional and succeeded[is it really a great sin].Is it not more important that he introduced the Stewarts to Macoll,PLUS his work on behalf of the travelling community.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 12:05 PM

A couple of observations on recent postings. Re. David Buchan and the "no set texts" idea, when I first came across this I was initially very sceptical (despite the undeniable fact that in the Ballads there are certainly set phrases and methods of structuring a story, &c), and was not surprised to read some years later that the theory was based upon two renditions of a ballad given by a Mrs ?Scott, renditions which did indeed have differences; but they were given many, many years apart. Is it not more likely that she had herself altered the way of it in the intervening years, or perhaps even forgotten some of it and "patched" together a version which differed from her earlier rendition, than the altogether more complex theory advanced by D.B.?

More surely, for examples of the "hoax" approach mentioned by "Scrump", we need do no more than read a few of Robert Burns's letters related to the making of songs (to George Thomson and James Tytler, for instance) and then seek out the six volumes of The Scots Musical Museum for those songs ascribed to "R.", "B.", "X" and "Z". How many of these seize the spirit and idiom of the "Traditional" so well that they have been accepted as having been "done time out of mind"? They might even have fooled J. Heaney (though I suspect the concern in that example was more with melody). Burns's own manuscript of "Auld Lang Syne" (National Library of Scotland; in the interleaved "Glenriddell" S.M.M.) ascribes the words to an old man from whom R.B. allegedly took them down. Aye, right!

Going back to the very earliest postings, and whether a, or the, Tradition is dead, moribund, past and gone, done and dusted, I know of a good number of songs made in both Scotland and Ireland which are concerned with events of the last decades, and think some of these of very high quality. Most significant for this discussion, some of them certainly employ conventions characteristic of similar songs from previous centuries (in particular, Irish songs of location), both with regard to content and idiom. Thus, they are both currently relevant and fit comfortably into a longstanding tradition. Without going into any further detail but wishing to close on a humorous note, I've made a few myself (who knows; if I manage to add another half-dozen over the years, I might even get them recorded) and have had the words requested by quite a few singers; on one occasion, when a lady learnt that I had made a particular song myself, she said in surprise, "Oh! I thought it was a REAL song....."


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Scrump
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 10:42 AM

Ah yes, I remember the YT sleeve note now you remind me (I have the vinyl somewhere at home).

As for why people have (possibly) done it, maybe just for the fun of fooling other people, in the way that the perpetrators of hoaxes do (e.g. the Piltdown Man). Ms Piepe must have been amused by the FD's reaction when she first sang the songs to him. But I assume she would have told him after proving him wrong, as she had a point to make to him.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 10:32 AM

"Seth Lakeman's song being nominated for Best Traditional Track (not song, I notice) does raise the question as to whether a writer can compose a song, and then declare it to be traditional ..."

"Who would be able to tell? Who can tell this hasn't been done already? Does anyone know of cases where it has been done as a deliberate hoax?"

Reading this a memory stirred and delving back into my collection of old vinyl I found an LP called 'So Cheerfully Round' by the Young Tradition, 1967 (TRA 155). This contains a song called 'The Hungry Child' by Judith Piepe. According to the sleeve notes Ms. Piepe, "...came into collision with a Folk Drag-who new all about the English Tradition, and could tell a traditional song any day. So Judith wrote him a couple, which he averred were rural gems from the seventeen hundreds." As something of a "Folk Drag" myself, I have often wondered if I would have been fooled by this song ...? Actually, I think it's a rather tedious song and I was never too keen on The YT either (don't know why I bought the record).

The other possible case is a curious book called 'The Chime Child' by Ruth L. Tongue (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968). The full title of this book is 'The Chime Child or Somerset Singers - Being an Account of some of them and their Songs Collected over Sixty Years'. The book contains the texts and tunes of many 'interesting' songs and with titles like: 'Mary Magdalene', 'The Carol of Christ's Donkey', 'Gillavor', 'The Three Danish Galleys' etc., etc. They sort of have the feel of trad. songs except they don't appear to have been collected anywhere else. It has been suggested that Ms. Tongue may have made them up, but no-one seems to know for sure, nor what she hoped to achieve by doing so


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 09:09 AM

it was a policy, Ewan agreed with.,and which he helped to implement.;Because he was A very INFLUENTIAL MEMBER OF THE SINGERS CLUB.
I do know of someone who was told by Maccoll,that they shouldnt sing Bessie Smith songs, This incident did not occur at the SINGERS Club.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 07:57 AM

HE CLEARLY[rightly so]didnt agree with macolls, ludicrous idea, that englishman should only sing english songs etc.

Since it wasn't MacColl's idea, that would be a rather strange thing to disagree with him about.

So far I have corrected this erroneous idea a number of times but I am happy to do it again.

It was the policy of the Singer's Club, not Ewan, and it was meant for that club and no-one else. It was decided by a democratic decision of the club. It is well documented.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:55 AM

Jim carro;l,here is an obituary of john brun by Reg Hall,DATED 18,4,OI.
[John Brun became acquainted with Minty, Levy,and jasper smith,and recorded an interview with Jasper.He was on close personal terms with Davy Stewart and his family,and it was he who introduced the Stewarts of Blairgowrie to Ewan Macoll.He had recently published his memoirs for private circulation containing accounts of his political work on behalf of the Travelling community.]
Jim, I will prefer to remember him for being responsible for the above.,and for the Roving Songster[a fine collection of traditiomnal and John Brun songs.
I suspect he was the victim of a personality clash with Macoll.HE CLEARLY[rightly so]didnt agree with macolls, ludicrous idea, that englishman should only sing english songs etc.
Seems to me Brun was right.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:43 AM

Agree with you totally Scrump................except in the case of Geordie songs............. we are the only ones capable of singing them.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Scrump
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:35 AM

The question of whether a singer should only sing songs from the region they come from has been raised here again. I think this is an unnecessary restriction, and agree with the Captain's comments on this. Any attempt to impose geographical boundaries on songs is ridiculous - where do you draw the line? As well as it being 'wrong' for an Englishman to sing a Scots song, or vice versa, would it be wrong for a Liverpudlian to sing a Mancunian song? Or for someone from Rochdale to be banned from singing a song from Oldham? Bloody daft idea! Songs are meant to be sung, and the more people that sing them the better.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:13 AM

Re the original question:

I know what it's not. It's not The White Hare.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 03:47 AM

Cap'n,
We got to the tradition (proper) when it was very much in decline and many of the singers had not sung their songs for years, sometimes decades; in those circumstances there are bound to be changes, often brought on by memory lapses.
Ballad scholar David Buchan put forward the the fascinating idea that at the height of the ballad singing tradition there were no set texts to the ballads, just plots and commonplaces (milk-white steed, snowy white breast, silver pin etc) and a set form which allowed the singers to re-create the ballad every time they sang it. If that was the case, it is possibly this that James Hogg's mother was refering to when she accused Sir Walter Scott of killing off the ballads by writing them down.
It helps to remember that we are not 'traditional singers', just singers of traditional songs - we are not continuing the tradition, merely borrowing from it (thereby hangs an argument).
Jim Carroll
PS John Brune was the feller who nearly sabotaged the Radio Ballad 'The Travelling People' by pretending that songs he had written were genuine Travellers songs - thereby undermining the veracity of the programme. He is the reason that Sheila Stewart was never included in it.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 04:45 AM

The problem with John Brunes definition,is that most contemporary writers, myself included want recognition for their work and their appropriate royalties,.
however he is right about things of lasting value[trash of the 19 century hasnt lasted although there was probably just as much written as there iss today],however good taste is hard to define as it is entirely subjective.he also says[ It is quite truethat generally speaking old songs are better than new ones, but this isnot becausewe have lost the knack of writing good songs but because only the best songs have lasted any length of time.
he also talks about[the regional fad]Scots should only sing scottish songs,Englishmen only english songs, such restrictions on our leisure time pursuits do not just knock stof the fun out of singing-they are quite untraditional,.
IF such restrictions had been in any way imposed on singers when folk singing was a universal tradition the folk process would have been
checked and the tradition might well have been killed centuries ago.
   my own[DickMiles]    alternative definition of traditional music could be home made music[including traditional style songs, that are contemporary].


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,Steal I Spam
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 04:39 PM

As I said. I have a beard. I wash at least once a month. I must be a minority cuz I sit on my own at the folk club.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 03:55 PM

Iwould like to quote jOHN BRUNE froim the Roving songster 1965.
Quite a number of traditional folk singers, particuarly HarryCox,very occasionally made up their own words and tunes of a character quite indistinguishable from the genuine traditional songs.
To sum up-If we areto continuethe folk traditions at all we must first agreeon the basic meaning of the word folk.
most importantof all,we mustwrite and compose more of our own contemporary songs and stop this business of counting what propoption of songs are written and composed and how many are supposed to be traditional
perhaps we should ask whether most of the songs are in good taste,the love of things of lasting value. things of lasting value generally srve a real purpose.Songs of real value have meaning and tunes of real value tickle the finer emotions.With such a new approach the whole subject of traditional folk songs coud be tackled more constructively and with more enjoyment .


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: Soldier boy
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 09:28 AM

Please let's not get sidetracked by personal insults and talk of beards etc. Folker was well out of order but you can't deny him free speech.
As Jim said just don't react to it and it will soon slither of this thread to spread its poison elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 08:43 AM

Well I suppose folker is right it is a minority sport. But I certainly don't have a beard, there is a high percentage of beards amongst our crowd.


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Subject: RE: So what is 'TRADITIONAL' Folk Music ?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 07:33 AM

Please don't feed the trolls - they creep back under their bridges soon enough.
Jim Carroll


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