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What does the term 'folk process' mean?

02 Sep 03 - 02:16 PM (#1011383)
Subject: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: GUEST,Newbie folkie

I've seen this used in many threads here, but don't really know what it means. Grateful if anyone could help me out here


02 Sep 03 - 02:25 PM (#1011393)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: GUEST,MMario

when used seriously - it means the process whereby a song develops variants - verses added, deleted, changed in order, melody changed, etc.

when used in humour - it can mean anything from "I can't remember the words" - to "I can't hit the note so I substitute..." to "heck - I made up the verse - how was I to know anyone thought it was real/it was gonna get popular"


02 Sep 03 - 02:33 PM (#1011401)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Amos

It refers to the obsessive and neurotic inability of folksingers to remember accurately songs they have taken from performances by others. They uniformly alter, twist, change, mis-remember, contort, distort, vary, malform, misappropriate and cross pollinate the parts. They mix up the words or change them at will without regard for the intellectual struggles which went before to produce the song originally. They mix up parts. They take tunes from England and words from Spain and tie them together. The run tunes backwards, change keys and noptes at random, and pusillanimously alter anything that seems in the slightest to be provocative or contrary. They can't get things right!

Instead of facing up to this obsessive behaviour and acknowledging that they need help, folk singers the world over have agreed to engage in massive denial in perpetuity and to cover it up by using the term "folk process" to describe this aberration. This provides a shallow and disingenuous veneer of legitimacy to what is actually a mental dysfunction.

Any questions?


A


02 Sep 03 - 02:35 PM (#1011402)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca

In general, the term "folk process" refers to how the music, words may change over the years, decades and centuries. It also refers to the (usual) loss of the author's identity.

Quite often as a song travels from one region to another, people may sing the song, but change it to reflect local conditions, people and times. Also, some words or verses may be forgotten. Other verses can be added, totally new or from other songs.

If you look with search here on an old song such as Barbara Allen. You will find quite a number of different versions. Another such song would be Wild Mountain Thyme. A clear example (can be found in the Forum) is the Nova Scotia Song/Farewell to Nova Scotia. It can be traced back nearly two hundred years to Robert Tannahill's poem/song A Soldier's Adieu. The song in its current incarnation would have been intact by the late 1800s. There were people who remembered it in this form from their youths in some of the collecting by Dr. Helen Creighton.

This still happens. A number of songs which are as recent as 20 or 30 years old are already thought of as "Traditional". Barrett's Privateers and Northwest Passage from Stan Rogers along with Fields of Athenry by Pete St. John are some of these songs. Plenty more of those. They may not hqve the lyrics changed as much as others which are older.

Hope that helps.


02 Sep 03 - 03:46 PM (#1011464)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Gareth

In "Sir Patrick Spens" I clean forgot the forty-second verse
So I sang the twenty-seventh, twice as loud and in reverse
And no one noticed
I laughed for hours
The tears ran down my trousers, I thought I'd wet my drawers

La-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la,


Gareth


02 Sep 03 - 04:13 PM (#1011481)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: VIN

Hmmm, am i right in saying that Francis Mcpeake wrote 'Wild Mountain Thyme'? Or did he 'adapt' it from something else? (I quite like Alex Campbell's version).


02 Sep 03 - 04:16 PM (#1011484)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: catspaw49

Folk Process? Similar to "Martinizing" except everything comes out wrinkled.

Spaw


02 Sep 03 - 04:27 PM (#1011494)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Herga Kitty

Amos - you forgot to mention that it also refers to the inability of songwriters to remember the words of the songs they have written, or their inclination to just change the words after a while because they feel like it.

On the other hand, I was in the audience for an interview with Tim Laycock at Whitby Festival last year, in which he recounted how singers in Suffolk had for 200 years orally passed on broadside ballads without changing the words at all!

I guess "real" folksingers do remember, but revivalists adapt....

Depends whether you treasure the song as an historic artefact or to be sung for the enjoyment of the singer (or even, audience).


02 Sep 03 - 04:28 PM (#1011495)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca

Vin, have a look at:

Braes of Balquidder
Real Origins of Wild Mountain Thyme


02 Sep 03 - 05:24 PM (#1011539)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: open mike

i think there is a column in Sing out magazine calle3d folk process
by Faithg Poetric--oh oh there is is again...a change--her name is actually petric, but i like poetric....it is poetic.

some of the songs she includes in that column are ones
which have been composed to be sung with familiar
melodies. Often union organizers do this....
to bring songs to the picket line and protest rally
they take tunes that people will know and add
new verses--they call these "Zipper" songs
like how woody guthrie took the fiddle tune
"Redwing" and it became "Union Maid"


02 Sep 03 - 05:58 PM (#1011567)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Bill D

*grinning broadly at Amos' answer*...these days, it may be entirely too close to the truth.


02 Sep 03 - 06:00 PM (#1011571)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Pretty hard to beat the definition posted by Amos. Just add a little thyme, er, time.


02 Sep 03 - 07:08 PM (#1011626)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: LadyJean

The folk process is when a four year old learns "Glady the Cross I'd Bear" and thinks he's singing about a cross eyed bear named Gladly.


02 Sep 03 - 09:40 PM (#1011714)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: wysiwyg

It's a special hair perm for folkies, so that under smoky bar lights we look like real perfessionals. You know, somewhere between frizz and romantic clouds of soft, fluffy, wavy curls, tied back very loosely with wisps escaping and curling attractively in a sheen of effort and our passion for our vocation.

Pron, FOKE process.

In usage, "I need to take my mop to the salon and get me a folk process."

~S~


03 Sep 03 - 06:19 AM (#1011886)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: McGrath of Harlow

Often when people use the term there's an implicit assumption that by and large as people collectively change songs because of forgetting and adjusting, that is likely to end up with a better song.

Very frequently this is true.

Essentially it's the process of evolution in the context of song and music.


03 Sep 03 - 06:59 AM (#1011905)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Murray MacLeod

Kitty, how could Tim Laycock possibly KNOW that the words had been passed unchanged over 200 years ? How could anyone know ?

Murray


03 Sep 03 - 07:31 AM (#1011913)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: greg stephens

Murray: you can cross-check modern collected song words against printed ballad-sheet versions two or thtree hundred years old. I would say, though, that the ones that have come down substantially intact via oral transmission would be pretty rare. For a start, you can never tell where printed versions have reinforced the oral tradition, maybe quite recently.
   I realised this useful fact at an early stage in my music-collecting days. An old farmer I knew was very well up on old lake District songs. Eventually I found out he'd got a lot from the Westmorland Gazette, which had printed the words of old songs for interest in the 1930's or 40's.


03 Sep 03 - 08:14 AM (#1011929)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Jim McLean

In 1963 I wrote a song called Hush, Hush (AKA Smile in your Sleep) and is in the Digitrad as Don't Cry in your Sleep. The tune is given as Mist Covered Mountains. However, when I wrote the song I changed the tune of Mist Covered Mountains to suit my words, but this version is the one you hear when you click on the midi for Mist Covered Mountains. After a few very helpful and educational exchange of emails with George Seto, the CORRECT tune for Mist Covered Mountains/Chi Mi Na Morbheanna, can be heard at http://ingeb.org/songs/mistcovd.html
A gif of my version which I published in a songbook in 1968 (done by hand) can be seen at http://ingeb.org/images/hushhush.gif
MMario informed me that after hearing the CORRECT tune he realised now why he found it difficult to sing Mist CM to my version as the first half of the verse is different. So the folk process has turned my version into the accepted tune for MCV as far as the Digitrad and various other sites are concerned.


03 Sep 03 - 08:17 AM (#1011932)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: VIN

Cheers George Seto for Wild Mountain Thyme info. Amazin how much history there can be surrounding one song. S'pose its a case of 'variation on a traditional theme'.

Interesting point Murray. Wonder if in 200 years time someone will check the preserved recording archives of a particular song or tune and say 'hey, this is the definitive original by so-and-so' cos here's the original recording and copyright records. Mind you someone will then no doubt say 'ah but he/she got that from a joe bloggs original tune from 1701' or whatever.

Don't think there's owt wrong with altering the presentation or structure of a song/tune so long as the original creator is acknowledged, both verbally and financially (if there is money being made). Credit where it's due etc. Once something is created then its there, it exists and hopefully shared by everyone. (If god exists, think how he/she/it must be peeved on how we've used or abused it/she/its creations). Music is like science in a way……if inventions and ideas had not been taken and added to, improved upon or perfected by others, life would be very 'non progressive' not to say boring. Well that's my tuppence worth.


03 Sep 03 - 04:30 PM (#1012232)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: Herga Kitty

Broadside ballads were the pop songs of their day and published to make money, so not necessarily sacrosanct.

Gladly the cross-eyed bear sounds like a Mondegreen....


03 Sep 03 - 07:15 PM (#1012324)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: vectis

I thought half the fun of the folk process were the Mondegreens Kitty.


04 Sep 03 - 12:56 AM (#1012471)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca

You're certainly very welcome, Vin.

Thanks again for the kind words, Jim. I didn't do much. You had already determined there was a difference. I just found where.


04 Sep 03 - 04:28 AM (#1012517)
Subject: RE: What does the term 'folk process' mean?
From: open mike

In Faith Petric's Folk Process column in the current
Sing Out magazine ( pages 90 - 93) has such songs as
"The New Wayfaring Stranger" which says this:
"I am a poor wayfaring stranger,
Travellin' through this world of greed,
Where some have none, they starve and stumble,
While others horde more than they need"
and a version of "Wake up Darlin' Corey"
with lyrics in memory of Rachel Corey,
and other songs including one sung to
"Scarborough Fair" which goes:
"Are you going to the Armaments Fair,
Martin, Vickers, Krupp and Lockheed
Remember me to one who deals there,
Does he still sell the death we all need?"
If you have songs you would like to submit,
you can direct them
"The Folk Process" c/o Faith Petric
at folkprocess@singout.org.
Tell her Laurel sent you!