A MESSAGE EMAILED-OUT DURING 2005
Folk music is meant to be local/regional/national. Our forebears were loyal to this when they formed the English Folk Dance and Song Society, as were our earliest folk-clubs in strongly encouraging participants to select from their own culture.
My usual and only complaint with our present English-folk scene is the lack of such loyalty. There are more than enough good English songs, tunes, dances and instruments (see page-link) for anyone’s lifetime – let’s appreciate others but perform our own!
More broadly: nationalism with conquest is bad; but positive-nationalism with respect for indigenous peoples, eco-travel, and fair-trade (via the U.N.) is good for humanity.
OTHERS – FROM INTERNET-FORUMS AND OTHER DISCUSSIONS (2006)
Traditions exist due to folks being impressed by how their forebears did things; and, when people lose their own culture (due to globalisation/Americanisation, etc.), society suffers, plus our world becomes less-and-less multicultural: as I've said in verse, and (see blogs/gigs, via Home page-link) during a brief, 2009, Sage Gateshead/ B.B.C. talk - quickly stressing the difference between being anti-American and anti-Americanisation.
Folk music may usefully be divided into two main categories – Traditional (unknown composer), & Composer (known - either deceased or contemporary, which may appear as self-penned or covers).
Singing a folk-song in a phoney foreign accent, or in classical- or pop-style, is surely “not cricket.” Exceptions, however, are genre-overlapping traditional carols - which may be sung with either an earthy folkie timbre or a classical “Sunday-best” timbre, as in A Christmas Carol, by C. Dickens. And why bother affecting our voice for the genre (as well as, occasionally, for different lyrics within the genre), instead of just putting our natural speaking-timbre into song? In a word - culture.
There are, of course, many ways of accompanying a song but, if we are to accompany traditionally- unaccompanied English, e.g., folk-songs, we should surely keep it light; I, e.g., usually sing such songs U/A but, occasionally, key just the top-line melody of choruses; with the understanding that English folk-music, for centuries, has entertained people via, mostly, the repetition of tunes, in both song and dance: more-sophisticated polyphony and chords being found, rather, in church and court - eventually, i.e.
I’ve been well into English folk-music since 2004 and, although I've enjoyed the guitar being played in an English style, it would be nice to hear more of the English-cittern on our folk-music scene. Accordingly, I like the idea of the lute having evolved into different guitar-like instruments in different lands, e.g: Portuguese guitar, English cittern, Russian balalaika, Italian mandolin, Greek bouzouki, Hawaiian ukulele, American lap-steel, African/American banjo, plus, of course, the Spanish guitar.
PLAYING THE FIDDLE?
There are many different fiddles from many different lands – e.g., the Chinese erhu fiddle, the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and, the one most used in the West, the Italian fiddle/violin.
Schools in England have recently been gifted (French) piano-accordions and (German) button-accordions/melodeons – but why not English-concertinas, with their beautiful homely timbre?!
English clog-dancing, which a handful of us watch at folk festivals, is just as good, in its own way, as the Irish-dance spectaculars, which thousands of English have paid to see live &/or watched on prime-time television.
World-music stalls and stages should be places where folkies of different nationality present different unfused music to each other.
Eurovision should be a folk (not American pop) song competition.
Apart from some local government, all any citizen of our modern world needs is their own nation and the United Nations.
My, English, late-godmother told me that, at school, whilst one or two Scottish dances were learnt, at least 90% of their dancing was English Country Dance; a "ceilidh" is a Scottish folk-gathering/a "ceili" an Irish one.
ALL THAT JAZZ
If folkies must test their technique by improvising on/“doing something with” a traditional tune, then, in my opinion, they should begin their performance with a run-through of just the top-line melody – otherwise, there would be no oral-tradition of tunes! Alternatively, they could try adding the early, classical, or sacred music of their nation (in England, e.g., Purcell and R.V.W. were, themselves, influenced by folk).
I think it’s good that students at Newcastle upon Tyne can do a Degree in Folk and Traditional Music, but I wish it was a Degree in English Traditional and Contemporary Folk Music – to match Glasgow’s Degree in Scottish Traditional Music, and Limerick’s Degree in Irish Traditional Music and Dance.
On the B.B.C., I’ve heard, and appreciated, two lots of Scottish but no English or Welsh folk awards..?
SPORTS (see Extras on Football & Tennis page-link)
A similar mess over nationality occurs in the sporting world, where an English boy, for example, can hope to play (perhaps managed by a citizen of a nation they may compete against) football for England, rugby-league for England/Great Britain, rugby-union for England/British Isles, athletics for England/U.K., golf for England/Europe, cricket for a combined England and Wales, or tennis for Great Britain - but Wimbledon is still The All England Lawn Tennis Championships…Anyone for friendly-rival republics?!
Traditions are handed-down, but they are best cared for by meritocracy – not nepotism.
Within the broader music industry, and beyond, what some get for their hour’s work, compared with others, is ridiculous and inhumane; hence, many relatively competent musicians within the folk-scene are really struggling to make ends meet; so, if we like fair competition, we don’t like capitalism. A better way, as I've said in verse, and during a brief, 2010, Sage Gateshead/ B.B.C. talk (see blogs/gigs), is to accept that we humans are competitive, and have strong regulations (partly via nationalisation) to make that competition as fair as possible – whilst also providing “safety-net” support.
Whatever the nation, conquest and economic-immigration are both bad for indigenous culture; and, as already suggested, I love our world/our United Nations being multicultural.
POSTED ON AN ANTI-FREE-VERSE FORUM-THREAD (2007)
After posting “Audience Lost” (poem 148, WalkaboutsVerse): for centuries, our poetic-forebears said things within the framework of metre &/or rhyme – thereby bringing much joy to their readers; and – although it’s not the only reason – the downfall in poetry’s popularity has coincided with a collapsing of this traditional framework by easily-translated, but relatively-dull, free-verse; also, accordingly and sadly, in contemporary performance-poetry, the amount of metre and rhyme seems to be inversely-proportional to the amount of swear-words and shock-tactics.
POSTED ON A FOLK-FORUM - THE RE-IMAGINED VILLAGE (2009)
A proper English village (that would have Dickens purring in his grave!), with a proper English pub - overlooking a gently-flowing river, licked by weeping willows, and glided upon by mute swans...a pot of Hedera helix on the windowsill, a glass of cider and a plate of chips on the table, and the homely timbre of an English flute in my ear...
POSTED HERE - NEW-YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS/RESOLUTIONS (2010)
Flicking through our channels on New Year’s Eve, I noticed (and enjoyed) plenty of traditional Scottish culture but hardly any such English culture..?
(C) David Franks 2003