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Marje

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #40 on: November 09, 2012, 10:02:45 AM »

I'm quite glad that the English folk scene hasn't followed the path of the Irish and Scottish scenes. This is only my personal opinion, but I think that organisations like Comhaltas and Scottish pipe, fiddle and accordion bands are responsible for fossilising, stagnating and halting the natural evolution of folk music. In Ireland and Scotland, many youngsters are taught folk music from an early age; that's great. However, they are taught in a particular style, and there are competitions and graded exams; there is little personal flair. Many young players sound very samey, and are playing in a style that was collected, and then fossilised, from traditional musicians. There has in the past been resistance to change, which is the worst possible thing that could happen.

This may not be a popular opinion, but I believe in some cases, we are headed down the same path in this country, particularly with the Folkworks courses (I only really have knowledge of the courses for young people) and the Newcastle University Folk degree. Many, many young players that are coming out of both of these organisations (many from Folkworks into the Folk degree) sound very, very similar. There is a 'Folkworks sound'. Many players using the same ornamentation, 'interesting' rhythmic changes in pieces, and often playing the same sorts of tunes (usually fast with little thought of musicality). It's hard to tell one player from the other, or indeed one band from another. I know from several people that there is a lot of resistance to styles outside of this on the degree course, which is incredibly stagnating and exactly the wrong thing to do. Don't get me wrong, there are some great players out there who are exceptions to the rule, but this idea of teaching people, especially young people, folk music in a particular style sits uneasy with me. All the great players take their influences from several different styles and mould them together to create their own. Very little of this is happening with some potentially great musicians, both in England and other parts of the UK.

I do see what you mean, Ollie, and I hope you're not entirely right. Don't forget that graduation from the Folk degree, or taking a Folkworks course, are only a beginning, and if young people use this as a skill base from which to develop their own style and repertoire, that's a great start. They have decades ahead of them during which they can explore different traditions and styles.

It's not nearly as bad as some of the fossilised folkies of my generation who have been singing and playing the same old stuff for 20 or 30 years with very little interest in anything different. These are the people who sill solemnly tell you that traditional music can't be taught formally, before they stand up and sing as tunelessly as ever, or play the same old wrong chords they've been playing for decades. Offer them a workshop or a chance to reflect on their playing/singing and they'll run a mile. I'd like to think that youngsters who've had a thorough grounding in the tradition, albeit in one particular style, will be interested and open-minded enough to let the music evolve, and have the technical skill to learn new tricks as they grow older.
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Marje

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #41 on: November 09, 2012, 10:15:12 AM »

Took the words right out of my mouth Marje.  Yes I understand what Ollie is saying about sameness from organised teaching,  but I can think is examples of students from Folkworks/Newcastle degree who have are developing their own distinct voice.  Matt Quinn, Nick Wiseman-Ellis, Dave Gray, Will Pound, Dogan Mehmet, Katie Doherty, Hinny Pawsey, Emily Ball, Ian Stephenson and I could go on.  All instantly recognisable for their own style.  Of you haven't heard of all of them you have treats in store.
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ladydetemps

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #42 on: November 09, 2012, 10:22:15 AM »

I like all the regional differences. That there's not an 'english' style because each area has their own idiosyncrasies. It means if I want to try something different I just have to go on holiday in another county and I get a different sound. A different repertoire. A different style.
And I like the slightly obscureness of the genre. If it was mainstream I'd soon get bored (like I am of 'pop' music.) e.g. I like chocolate but make me eat it every day for every meal and I'd soon get sick of it. ;)

Chris Ryall

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #43 on: November 09, 2012, 11:27:05 AM »

I liked the West Coast style I heard in Clare and Galway loads more than anything I heard in Dublin.  It would be a real tragedy to lose that  :'(
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Gary Chapin

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #44 on: November 09, 2012, 12:32:57 PM »

I completely agree, Chris.  Fr. Charlie and Jack Coen are probably as central to my musical life as anyone, even though I haven't played Irish music, really, in a decade. 
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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #45 on: November 09, 2012, 01:04:29 PM »

A lot of sense being said here.
I remember the Favourite pub in Holloway in North London the resident band ,Jimmy Power trio including Reg hall on Piano, Paddy Mallyn etc. they would introduce an all Ireland Champion of this or that, eg. All Ireland Champion Fiddle player and they would play like automatons. No feeling no expression no smile no enjoyment no fun . The notes that came out were perfect though. But to me?
Rubbish . It was worth being there though just. For Jimmy and his gang.
   Whilst I'm at it.
During the 70's and strict licensing laws, the Chieftains turned up at the Favourite five minutes to closing time and Jimmy Power refused to put then on stage saying " you might be famous but go home and have your dinner .
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ladydetemps

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #46 on: November 09, 2012, 01:29:59 PM »

In fact, you couldn't throw a stone around that area without hitting a musician on top of the head!
Is that a local sport? ;)

YorkieKen

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #47 on: November 09, 2012, 03:58:17 PM »


I'm quite glad that the English folk scene hasn't followed the path of the Irish and Scottish scenes. This is only my personal opinion, but I think that organisations like Comhaltas and Scottish pipe, fiddle and accordion bands are responsible for fossilising, stagnating and halting the natural evolution of folk music. In Ireland and Scotland, many youngsters are taught folk music from an early age; that's great. However, they are taught in a particular style, and there are competitions and graded exams; there is little personal flair. Many young players sound very samey, and are playing in a style that was collected, and then fossilised, from traditional musicians. There has in the past been resistance to change, which is the worst possible thing that could happen.

This may not be a popular opinion, but I believe in some cases, we are headed down the same path in this country, particularly with the Folkworks courses (I only really have knowledge of the courses for young people) and the Newcastle University Folk degree. Many, many young players that are coming out of both of these organisations (many from Folkworks into the Folk degree) sound very, very similar. There is a 'Folkworks sound'. Many players using the same ornamentation, 'interesting' rhythmic changes in pieces, and often playing the same sorts of tunes (usually fast with little thought of musicality). It's hard to tell one player from the other, or indeed one band from another. I know from several people that there is a lot of resistance to styles outside of this on the degree course, which is incredibly stagnating and exactly the wrong thing to do. Don't get me wrong, there are some great players out there who are exceptions to the rule, but this idea of teaching people, especially young people, folk music in a particular style sits uneasy with me. All the great players take their influences from several different styles and mould them together to create their own. Very little of this is happening with some potentially great musicians, both in England and other parts of the UK.


Wish I had said that  (:)


Here Here....me to 
Ken     :(
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oggiesnr

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #48 on: November 09, 2012, 04:56:50 PM »

I think that I must be listening to a different group of Folkworks and Northumbria graduates because I hear a lot of variety and different voices.  It is inevitable that in any teaching situation you get a degree of conformity, that conformity can also come from where the music is being taught and in their case seems to be grounded in the North East where (for example) the idea of playing sets of tunes at differing tempos is part of the local piping scene (and competitions). I would expect that were a degree course to be run in at University of East Anglia there would be a different subset of music being made as happens at EATM weekends.

I'm not sure we are passing on a tradition as such.  We are passing on music (some of which is folk music), we are passing on playing skills, we are passing on a tradition of playing in pubs or public and of dancing but (except in a very few cases) not a tradition.  I'm, amongst other things, a player of traditional music but not from within a tradition, I play music from all over and from places I've never been and in many cases it cross fertilises so I use Irish ornaments on an English tune, counter melodies on an Irish one etc.  There's lots of music being played and a lot of young people coming in but not a lot of it is happening within a tradition, largely I suspect because very little of the tradition still exists in context to be handed down.

Steve
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EastAnglianTed

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #49 on: January 20, 2013, 10:49:26 PM »

    Briefly, where I'm from;
    1.No
    2.No
    3.No
    4.No
    5.No
 
    Basically, I'm in my early 20's and I feel to a degree that the folk scene is a kind of 'circle' that you must discover.
    Please don't kill me for saying that, and to a certain extent it isn't true but sadly the folk scene is far removed from the public eye, especially for young people.
 :'(
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boxer

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #50 on: January 21, 2013, 10:37:46 AM »

I'm with Ollie.

it's about music, not bureaucracy
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Anahata

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #51 on: January 21, 2013, 11:44:37 AM »

Quote
Is folk music being taught in schools, is it part of the curriculum?
 Are there any organized, structured events specifically aimed at children?
 Are there folk music classes and competitions?
 Are children playing a  variety of musical instruments?
 Are there many playing the melodeon?

Ted's not far off the truth, but Suffolk Folk are trying to do something about it in our area. Also Gordon Philips and Nicky Stockman have been teaching primary school kids in the Ramsey area about traditional music, dance and song, and have revived the Ramsey Straw Bear which features a big parade of schoolchildren.

I expect similar things happen in other parts of the country, but you certainly couldn't call any of it mainstream.
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gmatkin

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Re: Passing on the tradition.
« Reply #52 on: January 21, 2013, 04:14:21 PM »

In answer to the original poster - and at the risk of boring regular forumites - for the past couple of years I've been busy passing on what I've learned in forty years of playing largely traditional music through a series of twice-monthly classes and other events. It's been a great fun, social activity and I intend to go on with it for some time.  :||: :|||: 8)

I don't the class, as I didn't want anyone to have to stay away for reasons of money, and besides the room we use is provided free of charge by a very helpful local landlord.

I'd say the age range of the class extends from sixty-ish to early teens. I guess we might get more youngsters if I wasn't in my late 50s, but I can't do much about my age...

My take is that the classes and YouTubes, sessions and twice yearly dances we run, have much the same function as the old method of learning tunes from other players down at the pub or in the back room, particularly as most of the class seem to learn by ear, and are encouraged to listen to other players and to figure out their own ways of playing the tunes.

I haven't received any help or recognition from any exterior organisation for running these classes but haven't sought any - I'm not sure what might be on offer that I could make use of. However, it's perfectly possible that someone

Although there are classes run by various people - Wren Music and Folkworks, and at Cecil Sharp House, I'd guess that people in most parts of the UK would have to travel quite a distance to find something similar.

Read all about it here: http://singdanceandplay.net

Gavin
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 06:40:45 PM by gmatkin »
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