English traditional and folk music

English traditional and folk music

This began as part of a reply to the "strayed from the land" thread, but strayed so far that it seemed to be a separate question.

What IS "traditional English music"?

Irish session players seem to have a working definition, usually in the form of dismissing tunes like "Winster Gallop" as not worth playing.

Cornish "pub songs" include songs like Camborne Hill, Away Down To Lamorna and Little Eyes have very mixed origins, but they are recognisably "Cornish" in their current forms and everyone knows what they mean.

The English "folk scene" is a queer bird. It is an artefact of the 1950s and 1960s "folk revival" which appears to have lost ts way rather. Pete Seeger’s most widely known single song is probably "This Land Is Your Land" which whatever its actual lyrics, is widely regarded as a patriotic song. Irish traditional music has developed - on one level at least - into a commercial genre ranging from The Pogues to Michael Flatley, and all points in between, and it remains music which people actually want to hear, sing and dance to.

The English folk scene doesn’t have this. It has become very commercialised on the one hand, but in a way which has steered it away from the mass market - Mumford and Sons’ publicity men seem to be active at the moment, but who can really name a successful recording of an English song apart from All Around My Hat ( which probably only dates from the 1820s ) or Scarborough Fair?

Transportation is a dead and largely forgotten issue. Enclosure of common land is alive and well under the Cameroon Project, but where is the music?

The English "folk scene" seems to be on the one hand, represented by the spiritual descendants of William Morris and on the other, by "champagne Socialists" like Billy Bragg. It’s actually quite hard to produce popular songs about subjects with little popular support, such as homosexuality, or issues like immigration where popular views are, in the mass, 100% politically incorrect - football chants ( where do THEY come from? ) would be a case in point of this. You’d think the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike would produce some good music, but apparently not.

So, what IS "traditional English music"?

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Don’t knock the 1820s, pal.

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The big difference between English and Irish music is that the English tradition is a broken one. It was lost and then made up. It’s sad. It’s quite possible that English music could well have been as good as Irish music, and I’m certain that English music heavily influenced Irish music in a positive way. But it was lost and that’s that. And I’d rather you cried about it than tried to revive it with hopelessly shallow middle class earnestness.

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"Irish session players seem to have a working definition, usually in the form of dismissing tunes like "Winster Gallop" as not worth playing."

This may apply to English players in "Irish sessions" in England. IME, it doesn’t apply to actual Irish players in actual Ireland, who are very welcoming and, on the whole, appear fascinated by English tunes.

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As a veteran of the folk scene pre-Dylan, I second llig’s sentiment: there is no English Folk Music. Perhaps in a hundred years’ there might be once more, but I won’t be holding my breath (even if I could).

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Geordie music is English and is no more revived by the "shallow middle class" than Scottish or Irish music.

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There is a living tradition of music in East Anglia which was collected form old guys, some of which are still around.
I know people who played with Scan Tester of Sussex so that is a living tradition.
Northumbrian tunes are live and well and being handed down to excellent players from guys who learned them at their father’s feet.
The morris traditions and tunes of Bampton, Chipping Campden and Abingdon are all living traditions.

I could go on. So Llig etc you are just plain wrong.

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I suspect Llig has been away from his native country for too long. As a Scot living on the south side of the border I have been pleasantly surprised how much of the English tradition is still healthy as you indicate, goldfrog, particularly in East Anglia. Llig, you should come down and play with John Offord and some others down here - it might make you proud to be English again :-)

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I don’t think llig is wrong. There might be small pockets of surviving English music in remote areas like Cornwall and Northumria, but for the most part the tradition was well and truely broken. Even Morris dancing as we know it today only dates back to the turn of the 20th century - the ‘surviving’ sets that it is built on were in reality a victorian re-creation - assembled and payed by the lord of the manor to put on a display at social occasions, and a far cry from the original ‘moorish dancers’ running riot through the streets.

But does it really matter? I’m not sure how much modern traditional music in Ireland or Scotland is actually based on the real tradition - I have a feeling that much of it is actually based on the playing of a handful of musicians in the 1960s and 70s. And there is plenty of evidence in tune names etc. to show that many ‘Irish’ and ‘Scottish’ tunes originated in England. There obviously was a lot of common repertoire. So English traditional music lives on, it just can’t be separated from traditional music of other nationalities. Music doesn’t understand borders.

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Every month or so I get to play an evening’s worth of English tunes in South London with the Flying Chaucers session. Chris, Steve, Mel and Sarah are doing stirling work bringing these tunes to the masses including musicians such as me (not English by the way- a Londoner).
So instead of diddley diddley it’s rumperty tumperty rumperty tum.
(They also bung in some Irish sets- done in the English way of course! along with the occasional French et ecetera)

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"There might be small pockets of surviving English music in remote areas like Cornwall and Northumria"

Remote from London? Northumberland is less remote for me than Hackney.

There was a lively piping tradition in the area surrounding Cramlington going back way before the 20th century (the Clough family were notable) - and it lives on. I don’t think the fact that there has not been a Geordie version of Riverdance is any measure of its worth.

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I did acknowledge Irish music’s debt to English music. Did I read somewhere that "reels" came from england?

But yes, small disjointed pockets are the property of ethnomusicologists, they aren’t enough for a living tradition

English music reminds me of trying to reintroduce captive bread orangutans back into the wilds of Borneo. Wild orangutans have extraordinary memories and an ability to pass on immense amounts of knowledge down generations. For example, there are trees in the forests that only fruit every hundred years or so and somehow, the wild orangs turn up at these trees a day or so in time for these centennial bonanzas. But the reintroduced captive bread animals have no such knowledge and still rely on the humans to feed them.

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>>"Remote from London? Northumberland is less remote for me than Hackney"

It is for me too. But you know perfectly well what I mean - rural areas, remote from the large centres of population, and thus less influenced by changing fashion. Just as Scottish music survived in the highlands and islands - remote areas - not in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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" remote from the large centres of population, and thus less influenced by changing fashion. "

Cramlington (or Newsham) isn’t far from the city of Newcastle, and the Clough family were mostly miners. It might have something to do with fashion versus traditional lifestyles, but remoteness is unlikely to be a factor in this case.

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I think it is best to think of ‘traditional music’ simply as a style or genre, rather than a reference to what has happened in the past. So if an English band play music in a style that appeals to English taste, they are playing English Traditional Music, no matter what the source of the tunes.

If someone is really interested in recreating the music of a bygone age, they are in the realms of Early Music, not Traditional Music.

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"But the reintroduced captive bread animals have no such knowledge and still rely on the humans to feed them."

Is that some reference to Bothy Band records?

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>>"Cramlington (or Newsham) isn’t far from the city of Newcastle, and the Clough family were mostly miners. It might have something to do with fashion versus traditional lifestyles, but remoteness is unlikely to be a factor in this case."

I’ll take your word on that then. It strikes me as an amazing coincidence that all the other areas where traditional music, language and culture have survived are remote, rural areas. But I’m sure you know best.

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llig. Do you regard people like Scan Tester as a link to the past or a product of the revival ?

The only person that I have played tunes with who played in a session (just one session) with Tester only remembers him starting music hall-influenced tunes (in that session) but recommened recordings of Tester to me. We hear a lot of irish players who take their influence from Michael Coleman recordings.

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Would experienced older orangutan’s help ? How few might suffice.

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"I’ll take your word on that then."

You don’t have to. Just read up on the history of coalmining in the Blyth Valley/Cramlington area.

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Skreech, I agree with your observatons.

Besides, Northumberland/Northumbria or whatever it’s called is still a fairly rural area. There is a large population around the Newcastle area but, even around there, it’s a collection of smaller communities which are fiecely independent of each other. Actually, the official population of Newcastle itself is fairly small in itself..under 300,000… Edinburgh has around 500,000 but, of course, we’d actually think of it as being "a big village" and Newcastle and its environs seem much more densely populated in comparison.

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But when he says this:

‘I’m not sure how much modern traditional music in Ireland or Scotland is actually based on the real tradition - I have a feeling that much of it is actually based on the playing of a handful of musicians in the 1960s and 70s.’

well, not so much.

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"Besides, Northumberland/Northumbria or whatever it’s called is still a fairly rural area. There is a large population around the Newcastle area but, even around there, it’s a collection of smaller communities which are fiecely independent of each other."

So James Hill moved to Gateshead and became a country bumpkin. Do leave orff.

Newcastle has (or had) been a major industrial area for a heck of a long time, both in terms of ship building and coal mining. Although small communities were commonplace immediately outside the city, there was much in the way of industrial employment in those areas. It wasn’t just "shepherds" playing those pipes.
Northumbrian music has as much "pit life" and industrial graft in its history as tending sheep on green hills.

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It is very easy to get that impression though Prof. And from the OP I think oilman may have that impression of English trad.

Over in the Swarbrick thread some people are making a Swarbrick-Fairport Convention link, others a Swarbrick-Beryl Marriot link. The latter is still a link into the revival but my impression is that most of those players gave a lot of attention to the old guys with arthritic fingers and past-it voices.

At least the sleeve notes say they did…

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With reference to the orang utan analogy, llig, in an Irish music context, you’re not even a formerly captive orang utan but a chimp, as you’re not even Irish. Neither am I but I don’t think I’m as cynical about this as you.

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Ah yes, bread in captivity… when mom used to pull a hot golden loaf from the oven at 5:00, & lock it in the cabinet so we wouldn’t eat it before supper at 6:00….

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Interesting that there was a Henry Clough killed at the age of 17, in 1855 in that link. There were a few Henrys in the piping Clough family.

Anyway, it’s hardly the image of smocks and mangel wurzels.

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Weejie,

I wasn’t suggesting that it was only "shepherds" and the like who play trad music. That’s not the case in Scotland either where there’s also a strong tradition in smaller communities eg ex mining areas and the like. There are far more pipe bands etc in the Central Belt than in The Highlands, for instance.

Basically, I’m suggesting that "community" is probably the important aspect whether the areas are sparsely populated or not. However, this is more likely in more remote rural areas than in large cities.

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In the South London mind, Hackney is more remote than Northumberland.

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You mean ‘Acne? Full of chimps and gorillas.

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If the Irish are orang utan, the English: chimpanzees. Presumably the Scots will be gorillas (staying as we were with the primate analogy). Are the Welsh gibbons. Personally, as a Londoner i.e. none of the above can I choose to be Apus apus* (the swallow)?
* sounds like a higher primate but isn’t.

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"I wasn’t suggesting that it was only "shepherds" and the like who play trad music. That’s not the case in Scotland either where there’s also a strong tradition in smaller communities eg ex mining areas and the like. There are far more pipe bands etc in the Central Belt than in The Highlands, for instance."

Maybe, but the claim that "the music" only survived in remote rural areas is bogus in this case. "The music" started in the same areas. It didn’t really spread anywhere. Its remoteness (and 8 miles from Newcastle is hardly remote) doesn’t seem to be a factor. The tradition in close knit communities may well be relevant - but you can have close knit communities in urban areas too.

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Yhaal, does that mean some Northern Irish people are ORANGE utans?

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Ha Ha!

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English traditional music and dance and song is certainly not dead, and neither is it all revivalist in nature.

But is fragmented, and receives much less support from the public at large than is the case in Ireland & Scotland etc.

I play in both English and Irish pub sessions (in England) and much of the time we’re ignored by the (Englsh) punters - we might just as well be piped background music.

That situation changes totally on the occasions when these pubs get visitors from other countries: Ireland, Scotland, America, South Africa, France, Spain etc. These folks nearly always take a great interest, applaud after tunesets, buy us drinks etc.

Another factor: Engish musicians don’t always stick to playing tunes that originate from their own country: I play in a ceilidh band, and we use a wide range of Irish, Scottish and other tunes.

I don’t imagine that at a ceili in Ireland you would hear anything but Irish tunes - or anything but Scottish tunes at a ceiildh in Scotland, for that matter.

Lots of Irish sessions going on in England - probably the most common type of session.

But anyone ever heard of an English traditional music session in Ireland?

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"I play in both English and Irish pub sessions (in England) and much of the time we’re ignored by the (Englsh) punters - we might just as well be piped background music."

Strange that. When I was playing Scottish tunes in sessions up north, about 35 plus years ago, the local punters tended to ignore it too. It was the American, German and English visitors who seemed to be more into it.

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You actually hear a lot of Irish tunes in Scottish ceilidhs although some are(by no means all), admittedly, of The Irish Washerwoman/Blackthorn stick variety.

Also, many Northumbrian tunes feature especially in the Borders area… Of course, many of those are of th Winster Gallup variety too. :-)

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Meant to say that the experience up north is something that has gradually changed. There tends to be more local interest now.

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I heard that England lost a lot of players and music through the First World War. If a whole community lost it’s key players then the aural tradition would be lost for that area.

I go to one English ‘tunes’ session and I absolutely love the music they play. Great players and fine tunes.

The problem we often get at other sessions is the quantity of non trad songs that are played, and also, heaven forfend, Irish sets.

English traditional music struggles in the face of other more popular genres because it was dealt a death blow from which it didn’t properly recover.

Luckily we’ve got the likes of Folk Camp still trying to keep it all alive.

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"didn’t properly recover." Just plain didn’t recover more like.

But give it another couple of hundred years

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Lots of Scottish people also fought and died in The Great War and we also had The Highland Clearances to contend with too although the latter is a different matter, of course.

Northern Ireland, of course, was also involved but there were also many volunteers from The South too.

Also, the war doesn’t explain why the tradition is still stronger in the more "Celtic" regions of England and Wales.

The above are all just observations on my part and I’m not intending or wishing to start a political debate about England and it’s historical relationship with the rest of the UK and Ireland.

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The thing that strikes me about this thread is that if you substituted in ‘Irish language’ instead of ‘English folk music’, you wouldn’t be far from the truth! Take Ilig’s summary above which seems to have upset some:

‘The big difference between English and Irish (Language) is that the (Irish language) tradition is a broken one. It was lost and then made up. It’s sad. It’s quite possible that (Irish language) could well have been as ‘good’ as (English).

This is Seachtain na Gaeilge in Ireland - ‘week of Irish’ which actually runs over two weeks but sin scéal eile.. we’re all supposed to use whatever bits of Irish we have from school. Sad.. but there you go, it’s the same situation. Very hard to bring back a broken tradition without mass support.

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The English are keeping quiet about their tradition to avoid paying the licence fee.

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I confess to being involved in the mass derision of the Winster Gallop some years ago. Since that time, owing to relocation, I have come into more contact with English traditional tunes and have come to appreciate their quirks. I still can’t get excited about the Winster Gallop. though.

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I think there’s a reason why traditional music hung on in and around industrial Tyneside and SE Northumberland’s mining areas - which may apply in Cornwall also - and it is this: the miners and fishermen especially, and maybe other heavy-industry workers too, may have left work on the land but were STILL living in what was really a natural world based working life and culture; also a warrior-culture, come to that. There would have been a continuity in the things they were up against and had to wrestle with, and also in their values. Animals of various kinds were very much part of their lives, as was growing or rearing food on allotments etc.. Very many North-Easterners emigrated in the c19 and earlier c20, and they seemed to have opted mostly for out-of-town places and callings in the New World generally.

I’d be surprised if this did not apply to South Yorkshire, South Wales, the Scottish mining belt and other ex-coalfields, though I do not know.

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There could be a lot in that, Nicholas. I was just reading the FARNE notes on "The Keel Row":

[The Sandgate area referred to in the song was a riverside district of Newcastle. The Sandgate, from which the area takes its name, stood on the main traffic route between Shields and Newcastle. This gate and the old city wall to which it was attached gave the area a somewhat segregated feel to the rest of the town, and even after the gate and wall were pulled down it still retained a feeling of semi-independence. The area was the most densely populated in Newcastle and was dominated by the keelmen and their families. Keelmen were the largest male occupational group in Newcastle and were employed in ferrying coal from the staithes to the ships and wharves. The keelman’s labour, however, was physically punishing and many were unfit for work by the time they reached their forties. The ‘row’ referred to in the song was infact the giant oar used by the keelmen in times of poor wind or adverse tide.]

http://www.folknortheast.com/archive/detail.asp?id=R1002501

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well, THAT certainly brought a response.

I’d certainly agree that English music traditions are fragmented. No-one has even mentioned sea shanties but these must surely be part of it? I’ve been to sea shanty groups in Cornwall and North Yorks, and good fun they were too.

Winster Gallop is a good barometer of a session, I think. One session I go to will breeze through it on request, on the basis that it is the Cripple Creek of traditional music and this particular group likes to encourage new players. Others openly scorn it.

I think one important reason is the rise of the music halls in the 19th century. Music halls were a great focus for popular music, but being licensed could not afford to be overtly political, or at any rate controversially so; the same goes for public houses. Since both were controlled by a fairly small number of commercial operators the influence was extremely persuasive.

The market for it is still there. Look at the popularity of Country and Western groups of various sorts, they must far outweigh "trad" sessions of all sorts. Country, at its worst can be truly toe-curling, at least as bad as morris dancing; the old gag about "if the dog ain’t dead and the woman ain’t left, it ain’t country" has a lot of truth in it.

But good Country, if that isn’t an oxymoron, is a different matter; how many reading this KNOW someone with marital problems, or a drink problem, or just thinks they work too hard for no useful return?

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[“This Land is Your Land” is by Woody Guthrie, not Pete Seeger.]

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We had a guy who came to our local folk club in the 80s and sang English sea-shanties. He was a helicopter pilot.

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You’re supposed to shut up and listen to English folk music. The man on the pedestal is everything. You’re supposed to join in and drink ten pints with diddley. Christ, I love being prejudiced.

By the way, is it Scotch Diddly and Irish Diddley?

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As an adjunct to nicholas’ hypothesis regarding the Northumbrian tradition and working lives, I think it’s about time we scientists developed a traditional music tradition. What about a few tune and song names like:
Forty Shades of Green Fluorescent Protein
The Maid Behind the Barometer
The Cliffs of Lieberkuhn
The Cup of THC
My Darling’s a Synapse
The Mounting Medium
The Microscope Slide
The Hair in the Cornified Epithelium
The Stain in the Field

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Brain Boru’s March. A tunes that appeals to both scientists and dyselxics.

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Well, one tune anyhow.

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Woody Guthrie did indeed originally write, or at least popularise, This Land Is Your Land but Seeger’s versions are probably more widely known - he is, after all, still performing it, as is Arlo Guthrie.

I’d also suggest that the English, and Welsh tradition of group singing was unable to compete with the male voice choirs and brass bands which were particularly associated with heavy industrial areas. Ireland doesn’t have this tradition.

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"Winster Gallop is a good barometer of a session"

That’s priceless. Oilman! LOL!

You paint a wonderful picture in my mind … ;-)

So, you’re at some session, and you start THAT tune ..

Hg 32 Inches
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Everyone joins in with it - beaming all over their faces. Near the end of the third time through, someone calls "One more Time". There is no second or subsequent tune in the set.


Hg 31 Inches
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All join in, but just before the end of your first time though the tune, someone shouts out: "Hup!"


Hg 30 Inches
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When you begin it, most of the musicians put their instruments down on the table in disgust. The few that do so are just doing so out of a sense of duty (or pity).


Hg 29 Inches
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No-one joins in with it at all, black looks from all musicians present. You have to solo it through once, then quickly change into a different tune.


Hg 28 Inches
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Same as above, but the session police spill beer over you, smash up your instrument and kick you out of the pub!

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I’ve been to a uke group in the Bristol area where they shout "Mornington Crescent" after one round of When I’m Cleaning Windows, and stop dead….

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or…. if whoever sends round the emails or whatever, spells it "session" you may well be ok; if they spell it "seissiun" or at any rate think they can spell "seissiun", probably not.

If they say they have "craic" but there is no-one there born West of Hereford, DEFINITELY not.

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Playford and Barnes?

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@Rudall The Time:

If there’s a notable shanty tradition in North Yorkshire, it may be no accident: Whitby was a major fishing and whaling port. I don’t know if so many ‘tall ships’ sailed from there, but they might have done.


I feel it’s a misbegotten endeavour to define folk or traditional music by some exclusiveness from top-down input. I’m sure this input has happened throughout time. Music-hall is one such input in English music now regarded as ‘folk’ (e.g. The Blaydon Races, The Lambton worm) and the choirs and brass bands which have immensely enriched the North and Wales also really began as a paternalistic programme to improve the working classes. And way back, the very old ballads that have been recorded off isolated singers have often been traceable to much longer and more sophisticated poems and songs with wide European circulation. Maybe there are songs in Irish that are similarly fragments of bardic poetry of comparable scope. And altogether more recently, is there a significant long-in-the-tooth backer of traditional music who *didn’t* begin by learning his chops from The Beatles?

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Hey, Oilman! Bristol is my neck of the woods. Never heard of a uke group - where might that be then?

BTW - I plan on prototyping your "Winster Gallop" session barometer (calibrated as above) and pitching it to "Dragon’s Den" (potential market - session leaders - to hang on the pub wall above the session circle).

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There is no uke group in Bristol, or wasn’t in 2009 when I was working there.. but there are groups in Gloucester, Taunton and Penarth. The Glos and Penarth ones would have joint meetings occasionally in the Stroud area, that’s where I saw the "Mornington Crescent" gag.

Whitby is associated with Captain Cook, and his ship Endeavour was built there http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Endeavour although "Whitby Cat" is more correctly a term for vessels of that sort used in the coastal trade at the time.

Dick Whittington’s wealth was based upon this trade, hence his traditional association with cats…

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I’m sure I remember hearing a discussion on folk/traditional music in the UK, and somebody pointed out that, to replicate the success and influence of Ireland in the scene we would need to have 12 different regional areas, each aggressively marketing their own brand and style of music.
12 different scenes, within the UK.
"Ok, in this session we only play music from the Borders. If you want Lowlands Scots you’ll have to go down the road to the Dog and Duck on alternate Tuesdays, Highlands, Islands, and Gaelic is at the Rose and Thistle last Friday of each month, and I think there’s a Cornwall and the South-West session in the next town, I think it’s at the Victoria in the High Street, but it might have folded."
Think about it, folks !

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"The West Midlands session is every Friday at the Bull ( of course ), East Anglian Hoedown and Molly-Dancing is on Saturdays at the Norwich Arms, and don’t forget the Old-Time ( London ) Music Hall every 2nd Wednesday of the month at Lauderdale House" ( Didn’t make the last one up, either ).

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"But anyone ever heard of an English traditional music session in Ireland?" - Try West Cork…

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What do they play ?

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One of the differences between English and Irish is that English musicians are less precious about the "pure drop", perhaps partly because there are so few ‘authentic’ traditional musicians and singers left. However there’s also a clearer distinction between them and those who came to the music through the folk revival.

These leads to the rather odd situation where people who are now in their 50s and 60s or even older, who have been immersed in the music all their lives and who learned at the feet of recognised ‘old masters’ are nevertheless not thought of as part of the tradition but as revivalists. I suspect that their equivalents in Ireland would now be considered ‘old masters’ themselves.

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When I lived in Durham I had a bastard of a time finding an Irish session, as most of the ones I came across played all these Northumbrian tunes!

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"…people who are now in their 50s and 60s or even older, who have been immersed in the music all their lives…"
include me in this group (if it is possible to be immersed in something that doesn’t exit), but —
"who learned at the feet of recognised ‘old masters’ " Who are they then? If you can name one, that’ll be one more than I could name.

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Well, going back to Northumbrian piping, the Clough piping tradition ended in 1987 ("Young Tom" didn’t pass on the tradition) but here is an example of learning at the feet of old masters:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2Z161Rzg4


Some pictures of "Isabella Colliery" too - and the far from rural setting of those colliery houses (Newcastle style: Upstairs one side of the street, downstairs the other).

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"But anyone ever heard of an English traditional music session in Ireland?" - Try West Cork…

Probably. But would they be playing English traditional music because they love it, or because they want to assert their Englishness? What I remember of West Cork is Irish trad sessions dominated by English musicians.

Interestingly, English traditional music and dance have found popularity in some quite far flung parts of the world; a friend of mine, who used to play concertina for a Morris side in S.E. England, came upon Morris dancers and musicians in Australia and California. Also, a Californian who has recently moved to my area (and who used to play drums in a Galician gaita band back home) reports that there is a very active Playford dance (and music) scene in the San Francisco Bay area.

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…The same concertina playing friend once won a busking competition many years ago in Skibbereen playing morris tunes.

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No one in English folk makes money? What about that young lady Kate Rusby? Seems to me that she has done pretty well for herself.

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Two or three years ago there was a resurgence of interest in the uke in Bristol. A local session fiddler who happens also to be one of the best guitarists around in all genres, and furthermore knows a thing or two about the uke, was engaged by the local education authority to go round the schools teaching the uke to the kids. There was a 5-minute slot about this on a local TV news channel. A local violin shop spotted a business opportunity here and started selling the little instruments.

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It’s easy to generate interest in ukes, they are small and cheap and easy to play, up to a point at least.. Does "When I’m Cleaning Windows" count as a folk song?

Re: English traditional and folk music

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The big difference between English and Irish music is that the English tradition is a broken one. It was lost and then made up. It’s sad. It’s quite possible that English music could well have been as good as Irish music, and I’m certain that English music heavily influenced Irish music in a positive way. But it was lost and that’s that. And I’d rather you cried about it than tried to revive it with hopelessly shallow middle class earnestness."


Have you got any facts to back up this statement.
all tunes and songs were made up by someone AT SOME POINT.
A recent example is the Irish tune "The Home Ruler . It is a sign of a flourishing tradition, when new tunes and songs are added and accepted as being in the style of, by its particIpants

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I did wonder if we might get a cheap shot at "the middle classes" at some point.

It’s easy to make fun of earnest social workers in mis-shapen pullovers wailing about hard-done-by ploughboys, done it myself on occasions, but they did do us the great service if preserving at least some of what could be saved, when no-one else was doing it at all.

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Perhaps classical music should be considered to be ‘English Traditional music’:

At the beginning of the 20th century the Maidstone Movement put about half a million stringed instruments into schools across England. Anyone could rent a fiddle at a very affordable price and get free lessons with it. But they were classical lessons, and led to a place in a local amateur orchestra. This lead to a huge boom in violining, but probably played a big part in killing off traditional fiddling in England, but it is all part of England’s music history, so orchestras should be probablt considered ‘trad’.

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Gosh! I’ve just had one of those moments when you learn something completely new (to me) about a common tune. Ignorant though it may seem, I had no idea that The Home Ruler was a relatively recently composed tune. It’s so widespread, and i’ve been playing it as long as I can remember, so it’s hard to believe that it was composed in the 1960s. Interesting …

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I think a lot of the reason is that "traditional" music no longer relates to daily life.

Returning to the subject of American Country music, there are songs like "Nine Pound Hammer" and "Sixteen Tons" which are universal - too much work and not enough money; there are endless songs about alcohol and infidelity, which are not exactly unknown subjects. There are driving songs, truckers songs, there are specific effects like that "train whistle" bowing that starts Orange Blossom Special, and the "rods and wheels" rhythm that follows.

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"There were three drunken maidens
Come from the Isle of Wight
They drunk from Monday morning
Nor stopped till Saturday night"

I would wager that a bit of that still happens in the IOW.

The song is about girls getting piddled and (probably) getting pregnant.

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"There were three drunken maidens
Come from the Isle of Wight
They drunk from Monday morning
Nor stopped till Saturday night"

They’ve probably set up home on a council estate in Eastleigh now, where there are more off-licences.

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They probably aren’t too bothered about holding back on a Sunday these days either.

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Coming v late to the party….

One of the problems of the English tradition is that it WAS written down, and hence gets excluded by those who insist on aural transmission. Playford wrote down a bunch of tunes in 1651. Many of those tunes have been played ever since, aural or written transmission? Who knows.
"Country dance" tunes never stopped being played, sometimes by "by ear" players, sometimes in Thomas Hardy-ish band arrangements, sometimes in piano arrangments, but they were played and the dances were done. As a child I remember we had 78rpm records of "Country Dances" played by a string dance band/orchestra. It wasn’t until years later that I realised they were Playford tunes.
There are all the tunes you find in Peter Kennedy’s Fiddlers Tune books, but you also find them in Francis Day & Hunter concertina and melodeon books of the late C19 early C20.
This is leaving singing on one side. The English dance tune tradition was there, but it kept changing with the times, and was integrated into "normal" life in a way that can make it unrecognisable if approached from the Scottish/Irish tradition perspective. Particularly because it was often written down.

Cecil Sharp insisted he was looking for folk traditions with aural transmission. He happily collected a morris tune from a man who played it without music, and didn’t admit he’d learned it from a concertina tutor book.

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A long-standing member (possibly a founder-member) of our Tuesday English session cannot read music, and has always played his D/G box and whistle by ear. Speaking for myself, most of the English tunes I now play at that session I’ve learned aurally there, and in many instances I don’t know (more likely, have forgotten!) the names of many of them.

We must be grateful to the musicians of the 18th and 19th century who took the trouble to write down in notebooks the music they played and heard, otherwise a lot would have been lost for ever. A good example is the William Winter manuscript of 400+ tunes that was discovered a few years ago and has since been through the editing and publication process (the book includes a CD of some of the tunes by Robert Harbron and friends). Some of these tunes have hitherto been unknown, but are now being played again. A typical example is "When Wars Alarmes" which I recently submitted as tune http://www.thesession.org/tunes/11773.

William Winter was a West Country village musician from the late 18th century to about halfway through the 19th, and towards the end of his long life evidently decided to collect his band repertoire into one book, to our ultimate benefit.

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One example of a recent composer in the English instrumental tradition is Will Atkinson.
The English Song Tradition has many examples of recently composed Folk songs, that the Irish have tried to claim as their own, Song For Ireland, Dirty OldTown, FiddlersGreen.
It is fairly clear which is the stronger song tradition.
The English and Scottish instrumental traditions have other examples of good composers : James Hill, Scott Skinner, Alistair Anderson to name just a few.

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My observation is that when you go to an Irish session you get lots of sets of tunes and maybe the occasional song, when you go to an English folk club you get lots of songs and the occasional tune.

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It’s quite interesting that a lot of English, er, traditional musicians (I do know a good few) will turn their backs on English music and play Irish, Scottish (and Northumbrian) instead. I wonder whether it goes the other way round. I have my doubts.

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"and Northumbrian"

Last time I checked a map, Northumberland was in England.

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Tell that to the regional authority. At the border there is a sign saying "Welcome to Scotland". The sign for travellers coming the other way says "Welcome to Northumbria"! No mention of England.

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Well Northumria/Northumberland is a long way from most of the rest of England. Maybe they don’t want to be associated with the southerners. You could use the Shetland/Scotland as an analogy……..

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"Well Northumria/Northumberland is a long way from most of the rest of England"

It’s right next to Cumbria and County Durham (if you take in the "Tyne and Wear" as well). No sea crossing involved. The Shetland analogy is bogus.
Has this now become a north/south divide? It might explain why the fol-de-rol-de-diddle is a broken tradition. It’s more like the south doesn’t want to be associated with those coarse northerners.

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>>"It’s right next to Cumbria and County Durham (if you take in the "Tyne and Wear" as well). No sea crossing involved."

Cumbria is a long way from the rest of England too. Speak to a Cumbrian and he’ll proudly tell you that they are decended from the Rheged Celts, not the Saxons and Normans who live down South.

But to bring you back to the original topic (rather than just arguing with all and sundry about irrelevant side issues), are you saying that you think England has an un-broken folk music tradition, just because a few small, isolated pockets have survived?

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"What is traditional English music?"

depends how far back you go. Perhaps it was once truly celtic.

now it’s lost

in a case like that, the English way is to borrow (steal) from other cultures and patch the bits together to form a synthesis that you then call English.

thus "traditional english" music

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Is anyone else prepared to venture an opinion on whether people like Scan Tester were a link with the past or a product of the revival ? skreech ?

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"Speak to a Cumbrian and he’ll proudly tell you that they are decended from the Rheged Celts, not the Saxons and Normans who live down South."

What a lot of irrelevant bowlarks. May I point out that Angles settled in the north too - they were the folk there when that place Northumbria actually existed. It’s still irrelevant bowlarks. I would wager that many Cumbrians wouldn’t have a scooby who they are descended from anyway. An ex partner of mine traced her Cumbrian ancestry beyond that and ended up in France. What an illogical argument "speak to a Cumbrian" This is not about Saxon or Norman or Celtic or Angle music - or any music related to ancestral people of more than three centuries ago.

"are you saying that you think England has an un-broken folk music tradition, just because a few small, isolated pockets have survived?"

I’m saying that you cannot take "English folk music" as a homogenous lump. There are areas - not isolated pockets - where local traditions have survived unbroken and other areas where local traditions died out completely. There seems to be this stereotypical image of "ploughboys" and the like. The traditions grew out of various occupations and industries as well as that "simple rural life" - and there was a lot more movement among people than many might imagine. The fishing industry in the Humber area, for example, brought people in from far and wide - including Scotland.
There was much relevance in pointing out that Northumberland was next to Cumbria and Durham. Those counties are also next to other counties which are next to other counties. If you are South of England centric, of course you’ll see them as remote. But if you are talking about traditional English music, then you have to take on board the fact that "English" means the whole of England. Fine example: A well known Northumbrian tune -Cuddle Me Cuddy (a variant of "the Peacock Followed the Hen) appears in a book compiled by John Bell here (c1812):
http://www.folknortheast.com/archive/show_images.asp?id=R1005801&image=1

It’s in a lot of North East manuscripts,
but it also appears in a manuscript by John Winder of Wyresdale, Lancashire, from 1789:

http://richardrobinson.tunebook.org.uk/tune/1526?i=15

There are more.

So those Northumbrian tunes were finding their way into a working tune book of a Lancashire musician more than 200 years ago.
Lancashire is next to Cumbria - are you now going to argue that it’s "still a long way from the rest of England" (whatever that means)?
There’s a lot more to it than some spurious claim that remote and isolated pockets of England retained some traditional music.
Northumberland had (and still has) a piping tradition. I believe there is a living tradition of hammered dulcimer playing in East Anglia (there is one in Lanarkshire too - a Scottish tradition) - there may be other examples. Moreover, the tunes moved around separately from the instruments.

These traditions are relatively modern (if you are going to bring up sheight about Cumbrian Celts) - but so are the Irish and Scottish traditions in the main. You are talking 18th and 19th century for most of these traditions.

If England has any unbroken traditions, however localised, it means that there is unbroken traditional music in the country.
Your ideas about "remote" seem to assume that some homogenous music started at some hub and moved outwards, only to survive at the perimeter. Newcastle is no more remote than Maidstone. A tradition was seeded there and grew - just like it did in other areas. The survival has no bearing on remoteness - it might have more to do with the working life that Nicholas touched on.
It would be foolish to deny that all the music of the British Isles underwent a form of revival - even where there was an unbroken tradition. This has already been said, however.

Perhaps there will be a point when the "smocks and mangel wurzel" image will disappear and more folk will recognise the wealth of music pertaining to more tangible lifestyles and occupations - even those in the "grim north".

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You are completely missing the point. The music that survived IS in isolated pockets. And that isolation is the only reason that it survived at all - remote communities that didn’t have access to the dance halls, the music lessons and the fashions of the cities. Communities that had to make their own entertainment, whether they were miners or ploughmen.

You missed the point about Cumbria - nothing to do with their actual lineage, I was talking about how they see themselves today - as a self-contained community, only loosely connected to England. Just like the Northumbrians and Cornish.

You don’t seem to understand what a broken tradition means. I presume you have some idea how widespread and diverse Scottish Traditional Music is today? Well supposing everyone in Scotland stopped playing, apart from a handful in Ullapool and half a dozen in Thurso. I think you could then say that the tradition was broken. Well that is what happened in England.

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>>"Is anyone else prepared to venture an opinion on whether people like Scan Tester were a link with the past or a product of the revival ? skreech ?"
Both. His playing was a link to the past. His popularity was a product of the revival.

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"remote communities that didn’t have access to the dance halls, the music lessons and the fashions of the cities".

Where did those Irish guy’s live ? The ones who made all the records in the 20’s and 30’ that we are told were so influential.

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"remote communities that didn’t have access to the dance halls, the music lessons and the fashions of the cities".

Where did those Irish guy’s live ? The ones who made all the records in the 20’s and 30’ that we are told were so influential.

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When I put (and Northumbrian) in brackets I was in a hurry to get out and enjoy the spring sunshine. Of course I know that Northumberland is in England (unlike Cornwall, where I live). I meant to make it an honourable exception to the English folk music that many English people turn their backs on in order to play Irish/Scottish.

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>>"Where did those Irish guy’s live ? The ones who made all the records in the 20’s and 30’ that we are told were so influential"

New York mostly.

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Enjoying the sunshine is always good.
;)

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"You are completely missing the point."

I don’t think I am.

"The music that survived IS in isolated pockets."

I think I made the point quite well. There doesn’t ever seem to have been "a music". There was much in the way of local traditions - some of which have survived.

"And that isolation is the only reason that it survived at all - remote communities that didn’t have access to the dance halls, the music lessons and the fashions of the cities"

A lot of supposition. You obviously don’t know Tyneside.
"Remote communites" is just your image. It would not have been difficult for Billy Pigg to have cycled down to the music halls in Newcastle rather than across to Newsham for a tune with the Cloughs. He chose the latter - his dad played the GHB BTW. Billy did move out to a farm, but the Cloughs remained.

Here is your "remote rural" landscape BTW:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/51143221@N03/6492721399/in/photostream/

"You missed the point about Cumbria - nothing to do with their actual lineage, I was talking about how they see themselves today - as a self-contained community, only loosely connected to England. Just like the Northumbrians and Cornish."

That is a lot of generalised bowlarks and does not equate with the people I met through working in Carlisle and the surrounding areas. Heavily geared towards the transport industry and its location regarding freight.
Bear in mind also, that what is now Cumbria used to be Cumberland, Westmoreland and part of Lancashire. The folk in Barrow might not see themselves as fellow Cumbrians along with the Carlisle folk (the accent is quite different for a start) - though I can’t speak for them - of course there might not even be consensus. Self-contained, my airse. I don’t see that you can speak for "Cumbrians" and how "they" see themselves. You might find just the same territorial attitudes in Yorkshire or elsewhere.

"You don’t seem to understand what a broken tradition means."

I think I do - possibly a better idea than you. Do you know anything about Orcadian music?

"I presume you have some idea how widespread and diverse Scottish Traditional Music is today? "

I’m quite sure I have a better idea than you.

"Well supposing everyone in Scotland stopped playing, apart from a handful in Ullapool and half a dozen in Thurso. I think you could then say that the tradition was broken."

I would say that many traditions had come to an end. Not a single tradition.

"Well that is what happened in England."

It seems that you are mistaken. Northumbrian piping (I started with that, so I’ll keep with that for now) didn’t start in Kent. It started in the North East. If everywhere else in England stopped playing traditional music (which doesn’t seem to be the case), you could say that Northumbrian piping is the only musical tradition left in England. It was and is still to an extent, a largely self -contained tradition (though the tunes got about - and many tunes were adopted from elsewhere), that over the last 30 years or so has gained in popularity outside of its native area. It never died out, and now seems to be on the increase. I think you are missing the point.
I would put forward a suggestion that the decline in traditional modes of employment and livelihood had more of a bearing than fashion or classical tuition in the decline of traditional music - and that would probably not be confined to England.
Again, this is not just typical rural employment, but certain industries as well.
I’m not saying there wasn’t a steady decline, or that there was not enclaves of surviving traditions - but remoteness of location does not seem to be a factor, because the traditions didn’t begin, from what it seems, in one central location. There were a number of traditions, some of which have survived.
So a single broken tradition is way off the mark. And never has it been something akin to "a handful in Ullapool and half a dozen in Thurso".

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Lancashire clog dancing - moving into the dance halls, in fact:

http://chrisbrady.itgo.com/clogmaker/clogmaker2.htm

I knew a clog maker (he termed himself a "clogger") from the Preston area - a tradition handed down through his family. Anyway, even though there were forms of clog dancing that go back much earlier, this particular form (and hybrid form - it seems) has roots in mining and mill working. It seems that the association with poverty led to its decline.

http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Clog-Dancing/

Another fine example of a localised tradition based on local industries. Something that grew from the industry and its workwear.

Dulcimers in East Anglia:

http://dulcimer.new-renaissance.com/4_british_isles/03_east_anglia/00-index-east-anglia.htm

Bampton Morris - going back well before the turn of the 20th century - possibly, and quite probably before Victorian days too:

http://www.bamptonmorris.co.uk/History.htm

Perhaps the localisation of these traditions and lack of "homogenising" also has an influence on the durability. Some revivalists seem to have brought together different traditions.

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"New York mostly" Exactly. "access to the dance halls … … and the fashions of the cities". Didn’t stop them did it ? Or did it ? It could be argued that people like Tester were an ‘evolutionary bottleneck’ who, by being recorded, may have carried forward and ‘popularised’ a non-representative style. But you have to demonstrate that people like Michael Coleman did not do that as well.

I am using Tester as an example because he learned his music before the days of recodings and radio.

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>>""New York mostly" Exactly. "access to the dance halls … … and the fashions of the cities". Didn’t stop them did it ? Or did it ?"

There are a lot of other factors involved there - Irish music isn’t English music. And if you are going to consider what happened in America, you would need to think about Irish music as the ‘new fashion’, and consider what effect it had on the music that was played there before its introduction.

If you are struggling with the fact that people call English folk a broken tradition despite the fact that a few remnants survived, think about the dinosaurs: There used to be lots of dinosaurs. Most of them died off, but a few species like birds survived, and evolved into other species. But I don’t think anyone would say that that means the dinosaurs never went extinct. And that is exactly what has happened to English folk.

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"If you are struggling with the fact that people call English folk a broken tradition despite the fact that a few remnants survived, think about the dinosaurs: There used to be lots of dinosaurs. Most of them died off, but a few species like birds survived, and evolved into other species. But I don’t think anyone would say that that means the dinosaurs never went extinct. And that is exactly what has happened to English folk."

Another stupid analogy.

The problem is that you are still thinking of a homogenous lump called "English Folk".

If your theory were to have merit, then your "speak to a Cumbrian" theory might mean that this self-contained community retained some of this "Mother’s Pride English folk music". I’m sure there are a few long traditions in the region, but nothing immediately identifiable.

Bad choice with Thurso for your analogy with Scotland too. I was just speaking with a lady I hadn’t seen for a long time on Saturday. She comes from Thurso (we exchange memories of the place when we meet) - she is due a visit there soon. She was telling me how much it had gone downhill over the time that Dounreay has been out of action. I mind that Thurso band "Mirk" too - a certain member might be familiar - Big Jim Sutherland. There’s an example of music moving away from a "remote" area and moving into more densely populated climes.

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I am not struggling with anything, just irritated at glib generalities and inconsistances. Is, for example, the influence of music hall on what was played by working people who ‘did a turn’ at the local fete evidence of a broken or ‘corrupted’ tradition ? If so then the influence of The Beatles on Bothy Band members, or US Forces radio on some Shetland musicians has to be treated the same way. Many people would regard those as evidence of a ‘living tradition’ (especially if it suited the argument of the moment).

We don’t really know how Irish, Scottish or English musicans played their jigs 200 years ago. But they play them differently now (and differently in different places) now.

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Influences that open minded people take on and have taken on down the ages are way too numerous to quantify. And this is a good thing. I’m interested in where the music I like to play comes from, but not that interested to allow that to influence whether I like to play it or not. And I’m aware that sentiment is shared by most of the good players of Irish music that I’ve met and played with.

But the reverse isn’t true of most of the players of English music I’ve met.

I think that once a tradition (any tradition) gets to a stage where people are protective of it, fear for it’s contamination, that tradition has died.

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You’ll allow dots at your next session then Mr Gill?

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red herring

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Perhaps - though I’ll remember your remarks about "contamination" for possible inclusion in later discussions.

I think there has always been an influx of tunes from different areas within the various forms of English traditional music.
Nevertheless, there are distinct styles and "disciplines".
If anything, there is a more cosmopolitan approach to the origin of tunes. Scandinavian music seems to be far more popular in England compared to Scotland (my own statistical research backs this up) - and it’s not because "they’ve no music of their own" which seems to be a common cynical response.

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llig. "the good players of Irish music that I’ve met and played with" vs "the players of English music I’ve met" is not comparing like with like.

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I thing you are right there David. And it shows what could either be described as my point of view in preferring Irish music, or, that Irish music "is" better, and the players of Irish music "are" better.

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Or, to use a Gillism, you just don’t understand English music.

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@Weejie. That wasn’t there 2 years ago!

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Moreover, the border wouldn’t have been at Carter Bar!

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It’s possible I don’t understand English music. But I have listened to it quit a lot, especially in my younger days. My "Gillism" (as you put it) is complaining about people dismissing stuff before they’ve given it a chance.

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>>"The problem is that you are still thinking of a homogenous lump called "English Folk".

I don’t know how you work that out.

What I am thinking of is a wide and diverse collection of regional styles and traditions - a mixture every bit as varied as the Irish and Scottish traditions, which we know from the written record once existed. The vast majority of those styles and traditions have died out and can only ever be regained by re-construction.

It is you that seems to be saying that you think the few remaining pockets of a few unbroken traditions represent all English Trad, and that the tradition is therefore unbroken.

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MacAlpine’s Fusiliers is hardly "traditional" in the sense of "historic", but I’d say it was a good example of Irish music showing the same qualities that keep American Country so popular.

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"It is you that seems to be saying that you think the few remaining pockets of a few unbroken traditions represent all English Trad, and that the tradition is therefore unbroken."

I’m saying that there is far more unbroken music than you would like to think, and it’s certainly not just the "remote rural areas" where traditions survived. The whole notion of "remote" implies a central hub - that hub is imaginary, because the traditions didn’t start in a central hub, but evolved in the areas where they still exist.

It’s quite different from the picture you paint.

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Influences that open minded people take on and have taken on down the ages are way too numerous to quantify. And this is a good thing. I’m interested in where the music I like to play comes from, but not that interested to allow that to influence whether I like to play it or not. And I’m aware that sentiment is shared by most of the good players of Irish music that I’ve met and played with.

But the reverse isn’t true of most of the players of English music I’ve met.

"I think that once a tradition (any tradition) gets to a stage where people are protective of it, fear for it’s contamination, that tradition has died."
Comhaltas was formed sometime in the early fifties, to protect the tradition, as a result the tradition has not died.
For goodness sake, you may think that, but clearly you are wrong, Comhaltas are protective, over protective, but they have not killed it off, their Fleadhs attract many people.

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I don’t think there’s any doubt that traditional Irish music would have survived despite Comhaltas. The fact that it has continued to exists outside of Comhaltas is testament to that. And I would argue that it’s only the influence on Comhaltas of music from wouthout of their strangling of it that has allowed that particular organisation to survive.

I think the Fleadhs are popular despite Comhaltas. And I think one of the most interesting things about the competitions is not that the best players, the most interesting players, the players with influence and longevity, rarely win … it’s the fact that that doesn’t matter.

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The insularity of North-East England may derive from stuff very far back.

Of the Germanic invaders of the Post-Roman period, the Anglians settled the English North and Midlands, and the Saxons the South.

In the c9 the Danes settled present-day Yorkshire and Eastern England. They failed to take the whole country, and the Saxon King Alfred started the fight-back.

In the c10, I think I’m right in saying the Saxon Kings Edgar and Athelstan continued this, and made a push to annex the Midlands and North.

Before 1066 the Anglian Northumbrians of the North-East (and for some time a part of Scotland also) became subject to the Saxons from the South - more strangers to them now than the adjacent Danes and sometimes Danish rulers were.

The Anglian Northumbrians lost Southern Scotland in the early c11. They were in no position to become a powerful kingdom again, and have been ruled from the South ever since. William I underscored this after 1066 (by which date London was already the capital of England).

Thus Northumbria has spent the last 1000+ years as a province of England cultivating its own sense of remoteness quite a lot, not without some reasons, and less connected than one might imagine to Scotland and things Scottish. Past wars etc. are long gone, but The NE has gripes about relative subsidy levels and the relative power of Scottish lobbies. At any rate this can be divined from immensely tedious and dispiriting letter pages in the local papers. Both are ‘regions’, but of course the NE is two counties and some cities while Scotland is an entire nation.

How different actually *were* the Anglians and the Saxons? Not significantly, to judge by the material culture and their use of the same language, albeit in differing written dialects. But we may not know the half of what they felt about each other.

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"Before 1066 the Anglian Northumbrians of the North-East (and for some time a part of Scotland also) became subject to the Saxons from the South…"

My post, above. I mean, the Northumbrians ruled a part of Scotland, not that this (as far as I know) became subject to the Southern Saxons.

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"cultivating its own sense of remoteness quite a lot"

I think "insular" is more fitting - and the same could probably be said of Yorkshire - or various parts of Yorkshire.

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>>"I’m saying that there is far more unbroken music than you would like to think, and it’s certainly not just the "remote rural areas" where traditions survived. The whole notion of "remote" implies a central hub - that hub is imaginary, because the traditions didn’t start in a central hub, but evolved in the areas where they still exist."

Well OK, if there is so much unbroken tradition=, tell me about it: explain the difference between Somerset fiddling and Cumbrian fiddling, between Northumbrian and Norfolk piping. The fact is that the music died out completely over most of the country, so most of the distinct regional styles, the living tradition, was lost. What we have now all springs from the few strands that survived.

As I said further up the page, ‘remote’ in this context has very little to do with geographical distance, and it certainly doesn’t imply any sort of ‘hub’ that you can measure distance from as you keep suggesting. What we have is a main body of culture, covering most of the country, and a few ‘remote’ communities that remained largely untouched by that culture. In most cases that isolation was caused by geographic factors, but not always - Gypsy fiddling survived because Gypsy fiddlers had little contact with mainstream music, despite living all over the country. They are not geographically remote, but they are culturally remote. It works the other way too - there are areas that are geographically at the far corners of the country but cannot be considered remote, because they had a lot of contact with mainstream culture. You mentioned Thurso (I’m guilty of being one of those ‘Dounreay incomers’ for several years, and also spent a decade in Cumbria, amongst the ex-miners, destroying their tradition ;-) ) I don’t consider Northern Caithness to be musically remote, because of the mainstream contact via Dounreay, and the American airbase before that. It’s the same where I live now in SW Scotland - we are about as far as you can get from a city or large town. But there is no surviving local tradition. There are and always have been plenty of local musicians, and fiddlers in particular. There must have been a regional style at some point. But no one alive today can describe or recreate that style. Why? Because the area is not culturally remote - we are on a main transport route. Itinerant bands traditiionally stopped and played here on their way to/from Belfast and Ireland. So the local musicians and audiences were exposed to, and followed, the city fashions. They dropped their tradition in favour of dance bands, box and fiddle clubs, pop music and more recently Country and Western. And that is very much what happened across England - musicians and audiences exposed to newer styles followed the fashion. It was only in culturally remote areas with little exposure to newer genres that the old traditions survived.

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The Kerryman wrote:

‘Comhaltas was formed sometime in the early fifties, to protect the tradition, as a result the tradition has not died. For goodness sake, you may think that, but clearly you are wrong, Comhaltas are protective, over protective, but they have not killed it off, their Fleadhs attract many people.’

It is one of the biggest myths about Ireland’s traditional music that the formation of CCÉ *saved* the tradition (and one usually promulgated only by members of the organisation and their acolytes). Far more important factors were:

1) the work of the collectors employed by the Irish Folklore Commission and the BBC and, most especially, Séamus Ennis;

2) the BBC radio programme, available in Ireland, ‘As I Roved Out’, presented by Ennis, Peter Kennedy and others;

3) the Radio Éireann broadcasts of traditional music (which had actually been going on since the mid-1920s and reached mass popularity, especially after the end of WWII and even more so when Ciarán Mac Mathúna began presenting ‘A Job of Journeywork’ in 1955.

There are several other reasons, but that’s enough for the moment.

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"As I said further up the page, ‘remote’ in this context has very little to do with geographical distance,"

Remote in my book does have a lot to do with geographical distance. The word comes from the Latin "remotus" - far off.

"and it certainly doesn’t imply any sort of ‘hub’ that you can measure distance from as you keep suggesting. "

I didn’t suggest measuring distance - but remote implies "distant" and it has to be "distant" from something - so remote areas would be far away - far away from where?

"explain the difference between Somerset fiddling and Cumbrian fiddling,"

Who said anything about fiddling?

"between Northumbrian and Norfolk piping."

I can easily tell you the difference between Northumbrian piping and Norfolk step dancing traditions or rapper dance and Norfolk step dance.

You are just being stupid.

". You mentioned Thurso (I’m guilty of being one of those ‘Dounreay incomers’ for several years, and also spent a decade in Cumbria,"

That explains your somewhat presumptuous attitude. Even if you had been in Cumbria for five decades, utterances like "Speak to a Cumbrian" show a

" I don’t consider Northern Caithness to be musically remote, because of the mainstream contact via Dounreay, and the American airbase before that."

Ha ha - "Northern Caithness" It’s hardly big enough to divide into north and south -

" Because the area is not culturally remote - we are on a main transport route."

So is Newcastle - and Carlisle. Stranraer is probably considered more "remote" than either of those two places. Remote from owt.

You are asking me to prove things - let’s see you provide evidence that the Maidstone movement affected traditional music.

As usual, Skreech, you make things up and try and back it up with generalisations and fabrication. You miss the point entirely. I have not said that there wasn’t a decline in traditional music in England - just that "remote rural" areas was not a reasonable argument. It seems far more plausible that strong traditions had more bearing on areas where they survived. And survive they have - not all traditions, but several.

"And that is very much what happened across England - musicians and audiences exposed to newer styles followed the fashion. It was only in culturally remote areas with little exposure to newer genres that the old traditions survived."

That still doesn’t ring true.

You’ll have to provide some statistical evidence.

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"That explains your somewhat presumptuous attitude. Even if you had been in Cumbria for five decades, utterances like "Speak to a Cumbrian" show an inability to provide logical argument.

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>>"Ha ha - "Northern Caithness" It’s hardly big enough to divide into north and south "

Right, so the boys from Thurso got on their bikes and cycled down to Dornoch for the Friday night dance did they? Even today, with motorcars, half of them think a trip to Wick is a major expedition. If I’d simply said ‘Caithness’ without spefifying the North you would have said, "Ah, but those in Berridale could easily get to Dornoch or Inverness".

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MacCruiskeen is right, the Tradition was never in danger.
Comhaltas was formed because a number of people who were disappointed with the failure of the Blueshirts, wished to wreak havoc on Irish Music.
Their hero was Mussolini, unfortunately he was dead, so they had to forget about making the trains run on time, what else could they do?
They came up with a cunning scheme, they hatched a scheme to control Irish Trad music by pretending it was in danger.
in 1952 in Mullingar, County Westmeath a group of traditional pipers who felt that the Irish musical tradition was in decline
decide to pretend it was in danger of extinction, so that they could satisfy their urge to be control freaks.

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>>"You are asking me to prove things - let’s see you provide evidence that the Maidstone movement affected traditional music".

Half a million school kids getting classical lessons, playing in more than 5,000 school orchestras, and no doubt going home and telling grandad that he’s doing it all wrong. And you think that there might be a possibility that that didn’t affect the popularity of fiddling? Get real.

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This whole arguement revolves around the fact that yuou think ‘remote’ means physically distant. It doesn’t. It simply means ‘separate’.

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‘MacCruiskeen is right, the Tradition was never in danger.’

I never suggested that, Dick. Do get your dates right. It was 1951.

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"Half a million school kids getting classical lessons, playing in more than 5,000 school orchestras, and no doubt going home and telling grandad that he’s doing it all wrong. And you think that there might be a possibility that that didn’t affect the popularity of fiddling? Get real."

Ah - so it’s just a theory with no actual evidence to back it up.

Right.

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"They dropped their tradition in favour of dance bands, box and fiddle clubs, pop music and more recently Country and Western…"

Box and fiddle clubs surely intersect with "the tradition". Box and fiddle players naturally gravitate to them at least sometimes to see what the aces can do on these instruments, and possibly to mull over the possibility of also becoming well-known and famous - though usually I expect there is a lot of clear water, in terms of virtuosity, between your average accordion player and a touring star. It’s called curiosity and seeing just what other people can do with your type of instrument (car, camera, you name it…), and it’s probably motivated traditional and other musicians throughout history. I’ve occasionally been to these clubs.

As for music deserting an original urban centre and travelling out through time into the sticks, this is precisely what happened to James Hill’s tunes. Composed on Tyneside in the earlier c19, they seem to have ceased to be played there in a recognisable continuous tradition, but became staples of the players of rural Northumberland and were duly recorded there from traditional players in the postwar era. Fiddle and pipes were big in early c19 Newcastle etc., and I assume were general right across Northumberland, but declined in later years. I believe the gentry had a lot to do with keeping the pipes alive. Anyway, the James Hill tunes found a continuing rural tradition to bed down in.

This story has no morals, and need not be a template to determine how things happened in other places :-).

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I suspect there are quite a lot of social, economic, political, and geographical factors enfolded into why places like Tyneside and Northumberland retained more of their traditional music than other places. One would have to do some proper research and talk to people who actually know what they’re on about to unearth vaguely possible reasons.

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Also, I’ve found simplistic divisions like rural v. urban are somewhat helpful, but not that helpful. There’s always a lot more going on. I’ve certainly used the language of centre v. periphery in order to characterise certain things happening in certain places, but the centre/periphery thing is just a superficial observation. You really have to dig beneath all of that.

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Mac, you are right CCE never promoted Fleadhs or Competitions or Exams, they did nothing to save Irish Music.
Irish music was flourishing in 1951, Comhaltas were completely misguided when they were formed, DeVelera was dancing along with all those buxom colleens at the Crossroads.
in 1951 Irish music was blossoming.

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Proper research… how about full immersion? Sometimes a tradition is *retained* because it’s just that good.

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‘Mac, you are right CCE never promoted Fleadhs or Competitions or Exams, they did nothing to save Irish Music.’

Fleadhanna, competitions and exams saved Irish music?

Who’s ‘DeVelera’?

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"I suspect there are quite a lot of social, economic, political, and geographical factors enfolded into why places like Tyneside and Northumberland retained more of their traditional music than other places. One would have to do some proper research and talk to people who actually know what they’re on about to unearth vaguely possible reasons. "

It would be an interesting project. Juxtaposed with other areas that retained traditions of dance and music too.

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Yeah, it would be a great project. Do you know anyone who would fund it? :-)

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as for music in schools affecting the "tradition", my younger two kids both play the violin to varying extents, having learnt at school. The younger boy dropped it at 11 to play the guitar instead. My daughter played in the local schools orchestra and took dance lessons as well.

The fact is that their school playing and what followed has taken the place that might otherwise have been filled by their "traditional" playing and dancing, which I believe was the point being made.

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"The fact is that their school playing and what followed has taken the place that might otherwise have been filled by their "traditional" playing and dancing, which I believe was the point being made."

"Might" and "did" are two different arguments.

It’s interesting how many of those Maidstone instruments are being played by fiddlers these days.

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"Do you know anyone who would fund it?"

Nobody seems to have any money. You could try some of the organisations or departments in Tyneside.

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I’ll rephrase that. My daughter played in a schools orchestra with around 100 players. The annual schools concert she played in included around 200 in all. She learnt some jigs as part of her teaching and still occasionally plays with a loose group of friends who play mostly C&W music, but has no interest in attending local sessions, regarding it as "for old farts" and vaguely ridiculous, although it would actually be quite challenging for her and there are a few younger players at one in particular.

My younger son shares a flat at University; 3 of the 8 in the flat play guitar to varying extents, none have the least interest in traditional music.

The local music shop in YOUR town will mainly stock guitars and school-standard violins.

I’d say that the case that schools teaching and noodling along to youtube have taken the place which traditional music might otherwise have occupied, is clearly evident

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"The local music shop in YOUR town will mainly stock guitars and school-standard violins."

The local music shop in my town went bust last year.

I think your anecdotal evidence is suspect. School teaching in many places places I have come across has been the impetus for many. It’s taking the music outside the old fart territory that can make a difference.

Perhaps when the school kids become old farts, the old fart pastime will be more attractive.

Anyway, the Maidstone movement put violins in the hands of those who would unlikely have held one otherwise.

"and there are a few younger players at one in particular"

And did they take music at school?

It seems that you might have contradicted yourself.

"I’d say that the case that schools teaching and noodling along to youtube have taken the place which traditional music might otherwise have occupied, is clearly evident"

Strange that your offspring haven’t become classical musicians either….or jazz freaks.



It’s all theory - without proper statistical evidence, it remains very much theory.



"

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>>"It’s all theory - without proper statistical evidence, it remains very much theory."

Yes, and evolution is just a theory too. Some of use are still chimps.

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It’s a common problem, trusting anecdote one statistic. The Daily Mail springs to mind

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anecdote over statistic

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"Yes, and evolution is just a theory too. Some of use are still chimps"

I seem to recall you getting into some bother discussing that very subject a wee while back.

Perhaps you’d appear less of a chimp if you were to come up with some empiracal evidence to support your theory.

So far, Oil Man has related the story of his daughter receiving tuition at school - including some jigs - and yet she plays C&W music.

Not very convincing.

There is far more to support the "evolution" theory.

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I agree llig. But exceptions can prove (= test in this context) the rule, though the statistical significance of a single observation can be hard to estimate.

If there was so little music around in England before the revival what are the chances of me living 20m from a house that a ‘man from the BBC’ brought his reel-to-reel recorder to in the 50’s ? Mentioning it doesn’t add to the argument here because I self-selected myself to participate. But it raises my suspicions.

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Technically, everything is theory. That’s why a creationist can rightly say that just because no human fossil remains have been found in rock strata under/older than where dinosaur fossils are found, doesn’t mean that one day we might. However, there’s a degree of pragmatism to theory which has to include the weight of statistics.

The Daily Mail found a handful of children who developed various forms of autism after being given MMR jabs. Ergo, MMR jabs cause autism. Except that millions of kids got the same jab and didn’t develop autism. And lots of kids develop autism without the jab. It’s a criminal sensationalism that caused a huge drop in immunisation that lead directly to childen dying of measels, mumps or rubela.

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Sorry llig, but both of those are poorly stated examples.

The creationist is ignoring how the palaentological record is used - the patterns of vertibrate evolution are described using hundreds of species. The ‘could just be chance we havent found a human fossil that old’ argument is irrelevant - its not the way the theory works. The Daily Mail could legitimately use the ‘some experts think that…" approach over that one (I think there was a published academic paper).

I think the problem in this discussion is more to so with the balance of ‘reporting’ between an orthodox view (’ it is widely thought that…’) and dissentors who could have non-representative experience.

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…to do with…

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Sometimes you just have to use common sense. In the case of the Maidstone Movement there is plenty of evidence to show that there was less traditional music in England in after the movement had gained popularity than before, but it would be impossible to show a causal link unless you had spoken to the individuals participating in the movement. But common sense tell you that teaching kids to play classical music will reduce their tendency to play trad (which their teachers will have told them is all wrong and bad). The other way to aproach the problem is to model it by analogy - compare it to other similar situations. In this case there are plenty to choose from. When swing music came along a lot of people abandoned dixieland (there is hard evidence for that in the sales of tenor guitars - guitars that could be played by banjoists). When electric guitars became available a lot of people abandoned acoustics and resonators. In generals, when something that is percieved as ‘better’ comes along, a lot of people will adopt that rather than sticking to the old ways. So when classical training was made available to all, it is very hard to see any way that it could NOT have a detrimental effect on trad music.

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You are making the assumption that the kids who had violin lessons are the same kids who would have been playing trad.

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"Sometimes you just have to use common sense. In the case of the Maidstone Movement there is plenty of evidence to show that there was less traditional music in England in after the movement had gained popularity than before"

Actually, the Maidstone Movement began in 1897 and continued until 1939. Its foundation coincides with the establishment of a good number of those Morris dance groups you dismissed. Common sense is subjective.

". But common sense tell you that teaching kids to play classical music will reduce their tendency to play trad (which their teachers will have told them is all wrong and bad). "

Reduce their tendency? It might actually increase the tendency, because before that they might not have had a fiddle to play. Again, you are making assumptions without evidence.

When did the decline in traditional music begin? When were the most pronounced dips? Do these statistics correlate with the rise of the Maidstone Movement?

However "sensible" you try and make your argument appear, it means nothing without some statistics to back it up.

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" But common sense tell you that teaching kids to play classical music will reduce their tendency to play trad (which their teachers will have told them is all wrong and bad)."

Common sense doesn’t tell me that at all. I don’t see how you’re getting from A to B. Is there any empirical data supporting that rather tenuous assertion? It’s a hell of a leap. Since we seem to be going with anecdotal evidence here, I can say that never have I heard any classical player describe "folk" or "traditional" music as "wrong and bad." I had French horn lessons for about seven years, was in a choir for about five years, and I have friends who play classical music, so I’ve been around it a fair bit.

It is, as David says, a huge assumption, suggesting that the kids who are now playing classical are the same kids who would have otherwise been playing trad.

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You can’t assert that "teaching kids classical music will reduce their tendency to play trad" in the same manner in which you can assert that "dropping a pint on the floor will cause it to break and the beer will splatter everywhere." You seem to be arguing the former as confidently as you would argue the latter. Except one can be empirically proven.

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I dropped a pint on the floor once (back in the days when you those dimpled glass pint mug things). It was a stone flag floor and it bounced cleanly upwards and I caught it. And no body saw it.

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>>"You can’t assert that "teaching kids classical music will reduce their tendency to play trad" in the same manner in which you can assert that "dropping a pint on the floor will cause it to break and the beer will splatter everywhere." You seem to be arguing the former as confidently as you would argue the latter. Except one can be empirically proven."

Of course I can. Ok, if you want to be pedantic, I can’t assert that it will stop them playing trad tunes, but then the tunes have survived anyway. But I can assert that it will stop them playing in a traditional or regional style, because the two things are mutually incompatible. If a child learns at his grandfather’s knee he will play like his grandfather. If you teach a child to play in a classical style, that is how that child will play.

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Aoife Ní Bhriain

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I’ve a friend who learned classical violin music as a kid but grew up to be a Scottish fiddle champion … who now hardly at all plays scottish music but does play some of the best Irish music I’ve heard anywhere.

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We’re all mad here.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgJwJa7Wk14&feature=related

a song written by a man born in England and performed by an Irish group, Music knows no boundaries.
The Musical Gnomes of this world, and the Pontificators will try to tell us, that one tradition is inferior to another, they are the sounds of Empty Vessels, they make much noise, but their philosophy is bankrupt.

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Since at least one of the posters above appears to be pursuing an agenda all his own, I’ll repeat myself.

I have three children whose ages span 6 years in total. All three went to the same primary and secondary schools, so there is a fair amount of overlap between their various friends and contemporaries. The eldest played recorder till he was about 12. My daughter played violin for several years and the younger son played until he was about 12 and then switched over to guitar.

We were involved with the schools orchestra in a peripheral way for about 10 years and during that time at least 300 children were involved to varying extents.

I have been to the local traditional English and Irish sessions enough to know that none of those children have joined any local session, or show any sign of playing traditional music. There are two local teachers known to me, and neither of them have any of that cohort as pupils.

I know for a certain fact that my daughter has a passing association with a loose group of a dozen or so of her contemporaries who play Country when they play at all. I know for a certain fact that at least a dozen of my younger sons’ friends are involved with local rock bands of varying abilities, and one of them is singing professionally.

Double that to allow for elder sons’ contemporaries whose activities are unknown to me directly but can be assumed to be much the same as No 2 Son’s friends, and the arithmetic seems to be that based on a sample of around 300 children, around 10% of them are active musically to some extent but none of them are playing "traditional" music.

Add in that from what I can see, around 20% of their friends have guitars of varying qualities, and most of them noodle along to youtube to some extent but that’s the extent of their involvement.

There are two music shops in this town, one caters almost entirely for the "rock wannabe" and "pubs and clubs sidemen" trade. Glancing in their shop today, they have around forty assorted electric guitars, a dozen drumkits, a few acoustic guitars and NO banjos, violins or boxes.

The second one is a smaller affair stocked largely with guitars and, oddly enough, a considerable selection of strings and music for jazz banjo. They have a small selection of 5-string banjos of lower-end quality and a handful of cheap ukes.

Another shop 10 miles away has the bulk of the local rent-for-lessons and general school trade plus the piano and keyboard trade. Again, no banjos or boxes.

I travel a great deal with work and this seems to be a general pattern.

It seems quite obvious from this, as Skreech has also concluded, that all available evidence points to the conclusion that the pattern of music teaching in schools produces a situation whereby very few pupils learn to play in any "traditional" style and even less of them go on to pursue it after school.

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But classical music has nothing to do with it. Rock and pop is the idiom in a hegemonic position.

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"[*I’ve a friend who learned classical violin music as a kid but grew up to be a Scottish fiddle champion … who now hardly at all plays scottish music but does play some of the best Irish music I’ve heard anywhere.*]"

Now that makes a lot of sense. Scottish fiddling has always had its roots in hard, solid classical technique, and a good dose of that will do anyone a big favour, if they are up for it.

So your friend plays diddley music very well - no surprise. I bet he / she would do just as good a job in jazz, bluegrass or snazz if that was the musical attraction.

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"I travel a great deal with work and this seems to be a general pattern."

Too much travelling and not enough logical argument.

"I know for a certain fact that my daughter has a passing association with a loose group of a dozen or so of her contemporaries who play Country when they play at all. I know for a certain fact that at least a dozen of my younger sons’ friends are involved with local rock bands of varying abilities, and one of them is singing professionally"

So, the "classical" tuition led to C&W and rock - that kind of defeats Skreech’s argument.

"There are two music shops in this town, one caters almost entirely for the "rock wannabe" and "pubs and clubs sidemen" trade. Glancing in their shop today, they have around forty assorted electric guitars, a dozen drumkits, a few acoustic guitars and NO banjos, violins or boxes. "

This is irrelevant to anything Skreech said - it has nothing whatsoever to do with his "Maidstone " theory.

I could point you to shops in Scotland (where there is now a fairly healthy traditional music following) that have very little in the way of traditional instruments. A token card of Generation whistles, perhaps.
It means nothing.

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"Scottish fiddling has always had its roots in hard, solid classical technique"

Nonsense. That could possibly be argued for east coast Scottish fiddling. Certainly not so for Shetlands, Orkney, the Highlands and Islands or for that matter Borders fiddle. Maybe you’ve been listening to Scottish Country Dance and making enormous generalisations.

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‘Since at least one of the posters above appears to be pursuing an agenda all his own, I’ll repeat myself.’

You can’t claim sole rights to the agenda of a thread simply because you posted it, oilman.

And, while we’re on the subject, several of your earlier claims need to be countered.

‘The English "folk scene" seems to be on the one hand, represented by the spiritual descendants of William Morris and on the other, by "champagne Socialists" like Billy Bragg. It’s actually quite hard to produce popular songs about subjects with little popular support, such as homosexuality …’

1) What on earth does ‘the spiritual descendants of William Morris’ mean? Which modern English folk singers espouse Utopian socialism, write narrative poetry or work with textiles?

2) If you think Billy Bragg is a ‘champagne socialist’, you really are out of your tree.

3) ‘It’s actually quite hard to produce popular songs about subjects with little popular support, such as homosexuality’

Try telling that to Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks or Neil Tennant or Beth Ditto or Ani DiFranco or Gloria Gaynor or try The Lemonheads’ ‘Big Gay Heart’. See, it’s not hard, is it?

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"Certainly not so for Shetlands, Orkney, the Highlands and Islands or for that matter Borders fiddle."

I can tell you that most, if not all the Orkney fiddlers of Jennifer Wrigley’s generation had formal violin lessons at school, however. That’s not saying that Orkney traditional music (revived) has its roots in classical technique.

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Many Scottish fiddle players had formal violin lessons but the roots of their fiddling is in the traditional music, not their violin lessons.

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I would agree. However, the argument was that "classical" tuition at school would prevent pupils from playing traditional music. Worldfiddler’s assertion was taking things off on another tangent.

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I’m sure we could also agree that all that would prevent classically trained fiddlers from playing traditional music is a lack of knowledge/tuition/emersion in traditional music. The classical training is not to blame for those violin players who play traditional music badly.

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I would agree with that - I’m not sure if Skreech would.

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Thank God for Llig.
A voice of sanity, crying from the wilderness, It is all the fault of the Daily Mail.

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I have my doubts about his sanity if he drops bouncy pints around the place.

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— Scottish fiddling has always had its roots in hard, solid classical technique
- Nonsense. That could possibly be argued for east coast Scottish fiddling. Certainly not so for Shetlands …

How about you look up what Gideon Stove did for a job?

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Yeah, but who taught Gideon Stove - and is he typically representative of Shetland fiddlers?

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"was he" of course. One of those tense moments.

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The point is that Stove had and taught classical technique. Every Shetland fiddler you’ve ever heard of has been under his influence. His tunes are still played as often as those of anybody else in the Shetland tradition. This isn’t some obscure hobbyist, he was one of the central figures in Shetland music. And he developed classical and Shetland traditional fiddling in parallel.

It’s not that unusual for musicians to work in multiple idioms simultaneously. In Scotland, a lot of fiddlers played in brass bands as well, and sang their way through at least the Psalter and maybe the Church Hymnary. In England, you got some of the most extreme multiple-idiom musicianship anywhere, with people starting Sunday with bellringing (a kind of atonal serialism), going inside to singing the official hymn arrangements of the Church, singing modal folksongs using weird free metres in their own time in private and playing a melange of strict-tempo dance music from all over Europe for the village hop.

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[[*"Scottish fiddling has always had its roots in hard, solid classical technique"

Nonsense. That could possibly be argued for east coast Scottish fiddling. Certainly not so for Shetlands, Orkney, the Highlands and Islands or for that matter Borders fiddle. Maybe you’ve been listening to Scottish Country Dance and making enormous generalisations. *]]

@Minerva McGonagall : Maybe you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyone on this board can argue about anything, till the cows come home. Luckily for you, there is no content moderation :)

Nonsense, you say? You know, I was going to ask you to clarify, but then I thought it might be a good idea to find out a bit about your fiddling background, so I had a look at your profile (just by way of curiosity, you understand), and this is the fiddle information I found, which gave your reply some credence :

[[*On yonder hill there stood a coo, it’s not there noo, ‘cause of the goat bangers.
The McGonagall take on session etiquette :-
Don’t hit things, even if they’re made from a goats arse, it annoys the good players.
Don’t even think of strumming anything unless you’re sh*t hot or at a sh*t session.
Don’t try to play a tune you don’t know unless you’re sh*t hot and if you think you’re sh*t hot enough you probably aren’t.
Have a good time. That’s about it really.*]]

Well, that confused me. Maybe you have a look at mine, which is here, save you a click :

[[*Jim Dorans - I’m Scottish, living in Southampton, England. I play fiddle in a variety of styles, including Irish traditional, bluegrass, Scottish, classical, and snazz.
I have some solo fiddle stuff here :

http://www.youtube.com/user/JimViolin/featured*]]

Oh, and on the subject of classically-trained / influenced fiddle players, please do listen to weejie, and Jack Campin too. They do know what they are talking about. I can assure you of that :)

Re: English traditional and folk music

Why thank you oh mighty knowledgable one. lol

Re: English traditional and folk music

google "Billy Bragg’s house"……

Re: English traditional and folk music

>>"I would agree. However, the argument was that "classical" tuition at school would prevent pupils from playing traditional music. Worldfiddler’s assertion was taking things off on another tangent."

No. The arguement was that it would dissuade them, not prevent them. It is a very different thing.

Once again you will probably name a few individual examples of classically trained musicians who went on to play trad. But the counter arguement to that is the hundreds of classically trained musicians who DIDN’T go on to play trad.

Re: English traditional and folk music

" But the counter arguement to that is the hundreds of classically trained musicians who DIDN’T go on to play trad."

Stupid argument that doesn’t follow logic.

How many Maidstone pupils went on to become classical musicians?

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>>"How many Maidstone pupils went on to become classical musicians?"

All half-million of them played in classical orchestras. That is what the movement was all about.

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" Every Shetland fiddler you’ve ever heard of has been under his influence."

That’s rather bold, Jack. How about Friedemann Stickle?

Willie Hunter had classical tuition, not just from Stove. However, it would be a very bold statement indeed to say that Shetland fiddling relies on classical technique.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"All half-million of them played in classical orchestras. "

Proof, please.

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For pity’s sake, if they didn’t play in a classical orchestra, they weren’t in the Maidstone movement. That is what it WAS.

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"it would be a very bold statement indeed to say that Shetland fiddling relies on classical technique"

I wasn’t saying that it did - simply that the two idioms coexist, in the same islands and often in the same bodies.

It seems bizarre to find people here trying to pick a fight with the classical music community, when it’s simply another marginal one. The money and glamour is in rock and pop.

Re: English traditional and folk music

Wrong - moreover, it doesn’t answer the question. How many pupils went on to become classical musicians?

Not played in a school orchestra - which was not what the Maidstone Movement was, anyway. Even though the organisation was called "The Maidstone School Orchestra Association, it was, at first, primarily involved in class tuition for the violin. By 1911, it "not only assisted schools in the formation of violin classes, but also helped establish classes for violoncello, mandolin, orchestra, as well as brass bands, military bands, drum and fife bands and bugle bands"


The Maidstone Movement: Influential British Precursor of American Public School Instrumental Classes

Robin K. Deverich

Re: English traditional and folk music

That was a response to Skreech’s post.

I would also ask again, how many pupils went on to become classical musicians? Not played in school orchestras (of which by no means all the Maidstone pupils did).

Re: English traditional and folk music

"I wasn’t saying that it did - simply that the two idioms coexist, in the same islands and often in the same bodies."

The problem is that there are two arguments going on here, Jack. One that classical tuition "affected" the decline of traditional music in England, and another saying that Scottish traditional music is rooted in classical technique.

It gets a bit confusing.

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"I suspect there are quite a lot of social, economic, political, and geographical factors enfolded into why places like Tyneside and Northumberland retained more of their traditional music than other places. One would have to do some proper research and talk to people who actually know what they’re on about to unearth vaguely possible reasons…"

"Yeah, it would be a great project. Do you know anyone who would fund it?…"

(DrSilverSpear)


@DrSilver Spear:-


FARNE (Folk Archive Resource North East) *may* be a worthwhile place to start looking for info, and its website is:

http://www.folknortheast.com/about-farne

- though visits to this site have given the impression its resources and links may be less comprehensive than one might wish.

Maybe the Newcastle Folk degree course has books and resources that they can make available to a wandering scholar such as yourself, though I wouldn’t know.

The American folklorist A.L.Lloyd came to the area I assume in the 1950s and wrote intelligently about folk music and its social background here and in other places - but I read him a very long time ago.

Re: English traditional and folk music

Skreech is spot on. If pupils are spending their available playing time in a structured programme which leads them to play in a particular style, them for all practical purposes they are being prevented from playing in a different style. If they wished to play in a "traditional" style after leaving school, they would be free to do so and able to so so; but the evidence is that they don’t. To deny this in the basis of individual cases, is sophistry.

Re: English traditional and folk music

@DrSilverSpear (continued from above):

I’ve a feeling that the modern comprehensive book about North-East England’s folk and traditional music has yet to be written.

Plenty, however, have been published about the social and industrial history. I’d say, a significant feature of the life of the NE working man in mining or another of the heavy industries was how pronouncedly masculine and gregarious it was. One needed much strength and stamina, acumen and teamwork instincts to do these jobs. Outside of work, competitive sports were keenly pursued and followed. Members of a workforce, as the c19 progressed, came to live alongside one another in terrace houses. Wives kept the house. How they fared depended on who they were with. Flip-sides of life could include excess drinking and resultant poverty, brawling, gambling and domestic violence.

Pretty well all of this seems to be reflected in the music and songs. Solo hornpipe dancing in particular was a pretty up-front form of self-display. Given a fairly limited number of tickets to the past in a time-machine, I think I’d spend one of them on a night in a Tyneside pub in the 1840s watching James Hill play for a succession of blokes giving it all they’d got on the hornpipe platform.

Rural Northumberland was different: more about gentry and their retainers, farmers and farm-workers, fishermen along the coast. ‘Volatile’ is not the first word that springs to mind in describing it. But it and Newcastle - its county town till postwar reorganisation - have always been intimately linked, at least in the modern era. The locomotive inventor George Stephenson and the wood-engraving artist Thomas Bewick were two country boys who made good in Newcastle. Today’s developed Northumbrian smallpipes seem to have been devised there. Remember, these are not *that* old - they were developed in the era of the first trains and the first English concertina. It is worth adding that the earlier c19 was a golden age for Newcastle in all manner of ways, generating a lot of local pride.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"Skreech is spot on. If pupils are spending their available playing time in a structured programme which leads them to play in a particular style, them for all practical purposes they are being prevented from playing in a different style. If they wished to play in a "traditional" style after leaving school, they would be free to do so and able to so so; but the evidence is that they don’t. To deny this in the basis of individual cases, is sophistry."

Well, Skreech is quite adamant that he didn’t say the pupils were "prevented" from playing in a different style. See above. Nobody has come up with individual cases where Maidstone pupils have also played traditional music - but nobody has come up with any information regarding the long term success of the movement - how many pupils went on to become classical musicians - or musicians at all. Skreech has failed to produce any empirical evidence that the movement had a bearing on the decline of traditional music (which is what would be needed). All that is being put forward is some notion that it "must have" affected traditional music - but it seems to be just based on the opinion of those who put forward the argument. Who is guilty of sophistry?

When you talk of evidence, you need evidence - I mean statistical evidence - not some run down of what your local music shops are selling.

I will cite John Hullah Brown, from "Instrumental Music in Schools" (Pitman, 1938 - also cited in the academic paper I referred to earlier) when he suggested that the long term failure of the Maidstone Movement was due to it being a commercial enterprise, and that the education authorities or established institutions should:

… take the musical aspect out of the hands of commercial firms - themselves a requisite part of the movement - and lift it to the plane of a national-and even international endeavour… . What has become of this vast army of youthful violinists - or their instruments - is not known, but that they should have been allowed to dissipate, regardless of potential
talent, is a blot on the musical escutcheon of England of which we may well be ashamed..


Well, I can tell you that many of those violins are still in existence - and you might be surprised at how many turn up in the hands of traditional players.

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"The locomotive inventor George Stephenson "

Yep - this "culturally remote place" produced the man who opened the first passenger railway down the road in Darlington. Bear in mind too, that the Sunderland man Joseph Swan, when he demonstrated his light bulb at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle ensured that the building was the first public building to be lit by incandescent light - later, Mosley Street (where Swan worked), in the city, became the first British street to be lit by electric light.
Not bad for such a remote place, eh?

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>>"Wrong - moreover, it doesn’t answer the question. How many pupils went on to become classical musicians."

If you gad read the whole of that paper, rather than just the short abstract that is available online, you would know that the heart of Maidstone Movement wasn’t a single organisation, it was a new pedagogy. A pedagogy based on teaching instrumental music by teaching children to play together in orchestras, rather than teaching them individually.

So, by definition, every child that went through the system played in an orchestra, and was therefore a classical musician.

I went through the system in the 60s (when it had been adopted by the LEAs) and I can assure you, it didn’t encourage anyone to play anything other than classical music - English music teachers are a snobby bunch, and we were deeply indoctrinated with the idea that orchestral playing was the only ‘real’ form of musicianship - anyone who played ‘pop’ or ‘folk’ was deeply inferior.

Add to that the time involved (lessons once a week, a compulsory 1/2 hour practice every evening and orchestra practice every Saturday morning, leaving little time do persue any other form of playing) and it I find it impossible to see how you can claim that the movement had no impact on the number of children playing traditional music.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"If you gad read the whole of that paper, rather than just the short abstract that is available online, you would know that the heart of Maidstone Movement wasn’t a single organisation, it was a new pedagogy. A pedagogy based on teaching instrumental music by teaching children to play together in orchestras, rather than teaching them individually. "

Ha ha - I have read the whole paper. And you are wrong - as that paper clearly demonsttrates. The other Murdoch organisation was the National Union of School Orchestras - and you’ll find that the paper relates the story that the NUSO could only muster the affiliation 9% of schools in their orchestral programme. The paper also points out clearly that the Maidstone Movement "encouraged the formation of additional violin classes" through canvassing. Murdoch’s company supplied violins, blackboard charts and medals and certificates for violin classes - along with a book "The Maidstone Violin Tutor". The classes were teaching violin - not part of an orchestra - and the lack of response for an orchestral programme was a thorn in Pattison’s side.

Skreech - I have access to JSTOR. You might try and fool others because you cannot access the paper, and deduced that nobody else can.


"Add to that the time involved (lessons once a week, a compulsory 1/2 hour practice every evening and orchestra practice every Saturday morning, leaving little time do persue any other form of playing) and it I find it impossible to see how you can claim that the movement had no impact on the number of children playing traditional music."

I’m not claiming anything. I’m questioning your evidence. Here you are again basing everything on your own hypothesis. No empirical evidence to back it up.

Come on man. Your approach is far from scientific.

Re: English traditional and folk music

I also had experience of music as taught in English schools in the 60s and 70s and yes, if you are aiming to teach musical literacy to groups of pupils across the country so that they can play together in a consistent manner, orchestral music is ideally suited for the purpose.

Skreech’s point that once you have taken up the available time in a specific form of activity, other forms of related activity tend to be neglected, seems to me to be self-evident. I’d say that my example, relating to a known pool of around 300 children over a period of about 10 years and since, it a great deal more "scientific" than reference to an individual player in the Orkneys.

Perhaps we should scorn Weejie’s claims, on the basis that he cannot provide individual provenances for all instruments supplied under the Maidstone scheme; it would make about as much sense. I dare say that given the sheer number of instruments involved, they might well turn up pretty well anywhere.

Turning to Mr Bragg, I’m afraid I have long found his "socialism" to be of the Nick Clegg variety; ideological and self-regarding. His socialist principles, after all, allow him to sign a million-pound record deal, live in a huge house with an acre of garden and make money from striking miners. He is a professional musician whose career outside music consists of 3 months basic training in the Army, buying himself out before joining his regiment - hardly a horny-handed son of toil.

Having had a good deal of experience of miners driven into the offshore industry following the strike, I’d say that Mr Bragg’s enthusiasm for homosexual rights and human rights of immigrants bear little relation to their views of equality and socialism.

Re: English traditional and folk music

I’m indifferent to Billy Bragg’s preachings. But I tell you what, his strumming and yowling’s feckin’ rubbish

Posted .

Re: English traditional and folk music

>>"Ha ha - I have read the whole paper. "

344 pages in a couple of hours? That’s what I call speed reading!

But you are still missing the point - the Maidstone Movement was a movement, not a single organisation.

Yes, it was spearheaded by Murdoch, probably for commercial reasons, (but through the MSOA, not the NUSA, which came later). But the movement was much wider, than just those organisations, and lived on long after their demise - responsibility for music teaching passed to Local Education Authorities, who retained the Maidstone methods and philosophy. I have a friend who is a peripatetic guitar teacher for an LEA - until the late 90s he was only allowed to teach classical guitar - if you wanted to learn guitar in school it was classical or nothing.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"344 pages in a couple of hours? That’s what I call speed reading!"

The paper was published in a music journal, and based on the author’s thesis. I have read the whole paper. It is a complete paper, with references.

"But you are still missing the point - the Maidstone Movement was a movement, not a single organisation."

The Maidstone movement was a name given to an initiative by Murdoch’s company, and mostly from ideas by Thomas Mee Pattison - which comprised two organisations.
The "movement" ended in 1939. After that, the government adopted a group violin classes using a method developed by Noel Hale, a music advisor from Poole. This method became known as the Rural Music School Association programme. The government didn’t sponsor the Maidstone method, ostensibly due to strong criticism from professional musicians.

Stop making things up, Skreech..

Let’s have some empirical evidence. It is you who is missing the point.

Re: English traditional and folk music

""344 pages in a couple of hours? That’s what I call speed reading!""

There are 344 pages in the Journal, but the paper comprises 17 pages. It’s not an extract, it’s a complete paper. Moreover, I’ve had a lot more than two hours to read it.

Let’s have some statistics.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"Skreech’s point that once you have taken up the available time in a specific form of activity, other forms of related activity tend to be neglected, seems to me to be self-evident. I’d say that my example, relating to a known pool of around 300 children over a period of about 10 years and since, it a great deal more "scientific" than reference to an individual player in the Orkneys."

Wise up. I said that most, if not all, of the fiddlers of Jennifer Wrigley’s generation recieved formal tuition at school. This includes Fionn MacArthur (whose grandmother taught violin and studied under Joachim), Peter Pratt, Seona Dunnsmuir, Erica Jolly, Douglas Montgomery, Stuart Walker - I could go on.
This comment was made in passing in response to another post.

"Perhaps we should scorn Weejie’s claims, on the basis that he cannot provide individual provenances for all instruments supplied under the Maidstone scheme; it would make about as much sense. I dare say that given the sheer number of instruments involved, they might well turn up pretty well anywhere."

I’m not making any claims. I’m simply countering Skreech’s spurious claims with instances to the contrary. If I were to claim that all the fiddles went into the hands of traditional players - or even most of them, I would back it up with empirical evidence.

Re: English traditional and folk music

I also agree, Billy Bragg can’t sing

Re: English traditional and folk music

I’ve seen worse. And, though I’m not a numero uno fan of Billy’s style, I think his singing is perfectly appropriate for what he does, and what he does is fine by me. Just sayin’, innit.

Re: English traditional and folk music

>>"There are 344 pages in the Journal, but the paper comprises 17 pages. It’s not an extract, it’s a complete paper. Moreover, I’ve had a lot more than two hours to read it."

It’s not a paper in a journal, it is a whole book, of 344 pages. If you’ve only read a 17 abstract on the net, then you haven’t read the whole paper.

Here is the ‘proof’ that you are always so keen on:

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_influence_of_the_Maidstone_Movement.html?id=6GNDNwAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

Re: English traditional and folk music

That’s not the paper, smart guy. It’s a book on the influence of the Maidstone Movement in America.

This is the complete paper presented to the Journal:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3345167?uid=3738032&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=55929112243

Notice that the subject of the paper is the Maidstone Movement.

The book that you linked to is more about its influence. Same author.

I take it that you know what an academic paper is?

Re: English traditional and folk music

Yes, there is something about the influence in England in that book - but it is quite separate.

Now have you read either? Probably not. Yet you come up with "if you had read the whole of that paper" (not book - you had to try and find it, didn’t you?).

It’s abundantly clear that you don’t really know what the Maidstone Movement was, yet you base some half-baked theory on it.

Re: English traditional and folk music

And he just keeps on digging…

The ‘book’:
"The influence of the Maidstone Movement on the early development of group string instruction in England and the United States"

Was Robin K. Deverich’s Ph.D thesis.

The article:
"The Maidstone Movement: Influential British Precursor of American Public School Instrumental Classes"

was an abstract of that book. To have ‘read the whole paper’ you need to have read the whole thesis. Which your latest statement - "Yes, there is something about the influence in England in that book - but it is quite separate" seems to suggest you want us to believe youu have. I’d love to know how and why you got hold of it?

Me? no, I’ve read neither. But then I don’t claim to have done. And if I was niaive enough to think people cond’t spot the difference between knowledge and google, I would at least have chosen a reference that was relevant to the topic under discussion - English music education, not American.

Like yourself, I first came across the Maidstone Movement through working on Maidstone fiddles. But unlike yourself, when I come across something I don’t know about, I make it my business to find out. I don’t assume that if I don’t know about something then someone must be making it up. It was the fact that I had already looked into (researched is too big a word) the Maidstone Movement that allowed me to bring it into the conversation, and provide a launch-pad for your googling.

Now, remind me again - who is BSing in this conversation?

Re: English traditional and folk music

What are you talking about, screech?

I’m pretty handy with looking up academic papers on Google, JSTOR, etc. and I had a wee look. The paper in question was published in the Journal of Research in Music Education, and it was clearly derived from the work she did for her PhD thesis but it is NOT an abstract for the thesis. Who the hell would write a 17-abstract? Kind of defeats the purpose of an abstract.

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*17-page abstract….

Re: English traditional and folk music

"The article:
"The Maidstone Movement: Influential British Precursor of American Public School Instrumental Classes"

was an abstract of that book. To have ‘read the whole paper’ you need to have read the whole thesis. Which your latest statement -"

Erm — no, it wasn’t It was an article based on the author’s thesis and presented in part in a conference - it says so.
It was presented in a journal as a complete article in itself - a paper.
It was not an abstract. Basing something on a thesis does not make it an abstract. An abstract is a summary. This was a complete article- or paper in itself, and you claimed that if I’d read it then I’d know - —— yet I had read the paper and it contradicted much of what you said. Clearly the movement was one based on violin tuition - not a schools orchestral programme - and when the Orchestral union wad formed, there was a poor response from the schools.

And actually looking further into the details of that "book" - yes it is the authors thesis. It is not a "book" in the common sense of the word. The only institution that holds a copy is the University of California - it is unpublished.


"Me? no, I’ve read neither. But then I don’t claim to have done. And if I was niaive enough to think people cond’t spot the difference between knowledge and google, I would at least have chosen a reference that was relevant to the topic under discussion - English music education, not American."

Knowledge and Google? I’ve actually read the paper - it now seems as though you haven’t - nor the thesis (which you had to google to locate). I had no need to read the paper, because I am not putting forward the hypothesis - but I did.
That paper made it clear that you don’t really know much about the subject. So where is this knowledge? As for "English Music Education, not American", the paper was actually about the Maidstone Movement, and reseach through correspondence with Keith Adams, a professor at Durham University. Adams had researched the history of violin teaching in English schools for his advanced degrees, and shared some of his research with the author.
So don’t try and put it down to my lack of knowledge and googling. I did make it my business to find out. I found a pretty detailed paper on the subject (look at the title - it’s about the Maidstone Movement). You have actually come up with nothing of worth, just opinions.

"Now, remind me again - who is BSing in this conversation?"

It seems like it is you, old sport.

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If you have access to JSTOR or Sage or any of these online databases of peer reviewed journals, it’s a piece of p*iss to read any paper that takes your fancy. I just pulled up the paper in question on JSTOR and it’s based on the author’s master’s thesis, not a PhD thesis (my assumption there, whoops). It does, however, give a nice wee history of the Maidstone Movement.

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" It was the fact that I had already looked into (researched is too big a word) the Maidstone Movement that allowed me to bring it into the conversation, and provide a launch-pad for your googling."

I challenged you to provide some evidence for your assertion. You failed to do this. You continued to make claims based on this theory. I made an effort to check out what you were saying. It didn’t tally with what the author of this paper was saying.

And Thanks, Dr SS. I hope you don’t get accused of googling too.

Re: English traditional and folk music

<sigh>
Aren’t there any rats for you to chase, my little Jack Russell? You’d find that far more rewarding than hanging about here trying to pretend you’re a big dog. You’re looking sillier and sillier with every post.

>>"I challenged you to provide some evidence for your assertion. You failed to do this. You continued to make claims based on this theory. I made an effort to check out what you were saying. It didn’t tally with what the author of this paper was saying."

I made the assertion that the Maidstone Movement contributed to the decline of English traditional music. I backed that up with evidence from personal experience, from observation, and from analogy modelling.

You refuted all that evidence, citing as your reason one single abstract, which doesn’t even MENTION traditional music, but which happened to turn up when you googled "Maidstone Movement".

I think this conversation is at an end.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"I made the assertion that the Maidstone Movement contributed to the decline of English traditional music. I backed that up with evidence from personal experience, from observation, and from analogy modelling."

So, you were a Maidstone pupil? The movement had virtually ended by 1939 and the company dissolved a couple of years later - and, no, the method did not continue in another form after that. I’m afraid "analogy modelling" doesn’t hold water in this case. You need to provide empirical evidence, or it just becomes an opinion of little worth.

"You refuted all that evidence, citing as your reason one single abstract, which doesn’t even MENTION traditional music, but which happened to turn up when you googled "Maidstone Movement"."

I asked you how many Maidstone pupils went on to become classical musicians - this was relevant, because you mentioned that I might come up with some pupils who had become trad musicians. You said that that "all half -million of them played in classical orchestras" and then went on to say that if they hadn’t played in an orchestra then they wouldn’t have been in the Maidstone Movement. At the time you said this, I already had this paper downloaded (a paper, not an abstract - there is a PhD graduate telling you that it is not an abstract - she should know the difference) and was in the process of reading it. It’s a pretty detailed account of the movement, and one that is cited in many places. It also contradicted what you were saying big time. I didn’t "refute" anything (look the word up), but I did dispute it, and used this paper to point out where your claims appeared to be erroneous. It doesn’t matter whether the paper mentioned traditional music. It wasn’t the issue here. What was the issue were your spurious claims that the movement entailed being a member of an orchestra.

"I think this conversation is at an end."

That’s up to you, but you haven’t come out of it in a good light.

Re: English traditional and folk music

After reading the paper, the only possible — and admittedly, tenuous — connection that one can vaguely make to folk or traditional music is that more people had access to violins. Did this increase the amount of people playing traditional music? Decrease it? Who knows, but it seems as if many kids who would not have ever learned to play anything the violin were now playing the violin.

Deverich at any rate concludes that this model of musical education had more of lasting impact on the US, not Britain, contending that it had more or less been abandoned in Britain by 1939. After WWII, the government had assumed responsibility over instrumental education in schools using a methodology based on something called the Rural Music School Association Program (more Googling will have to reveal what this is).

She states: "Lack of specific MSOA guidelines concerning classroom management and instructional methods … generated a wide range of results among MSOA classes, and these diverse results undoubtedly contributed to the relative obscurity of the Maidstone Movement in the annals of British music education. Most British sources contacted for this project knew little about the movement…"

Given that the movement was probably quite inconsistent in its practices, it probably didn’t singlehandedly wipe out folk music in the way Screech suggests.

And it’s not a bloody abstract! It’s a standalone journal article based on an unpublished master’s thesis that is no doubt collecting dust in the UCLA library.

Re: English traditional and folk music

But as Screech seems to think personal experience is as valid as any other sort of evidence, here’s mine:

Myself, and most people I know, had classical music instruction in school and given Deverich’s argument, it probably had deeper foundations in the Maidstone Movement than anything he had, since Maidstone’s long term impacts were in the States rather than Britain. Mind you, there was no "indigenous" folk music in Colorado it could edge out. Anyway, because of the wonder that is Facebook, I get to see what quite a lot of my schoolmates are doing with their lives now. One is an active orchestral musician (she plays the double bass), and another plays guitar in a rock band. Most aren’t playing anything anywhere. However, quite a lot of Irish/Scottish trad players I’ve met at sessions learned classical music in school and now play, well, Irish/Scottish trad.

Re: English traditional and folk music

Way back-

A. L. Lloyd was American?

Re: English traditional and folk music

Yep, that’s Abraham Lincoln Lloyd, Bob, apparently visited nicholas.

However, Albert Lancaster Lloyd ….

Re: English traditional and folk music

A missing ‘who’.

Re: English traditional and folk music

Ok, Dr SS

First of all I have never claimed that "the MM single handedly wiped out folk music", if you read my original post rather than weejies interpretation of it you will see that I merly said it was a contributory factor’ (infact, without bothering to go back and look it up, I think I said it ‘may have been’ probably was’ a contributory factor.

Now can I ask you to hypothesise a bit about your musical education: Supposing you had had a grandfather who played pipes (or whatever instrument you learned classically. Do you think you would have come out at the end playing in (and preserving) your grandfathers idiom, or in the way that you were taught in you lessons?

Now I’ll tell you what I know of happened after the Maidstone Movement, and my experience of music education in England.The movement did collapse, apparently due to the commercial interests involved. But the pedagogy didn’t go away - many of the teachers from the movement were taken on by the LEAs, and the focus on orchestral playing, which was the core of the movement also became the core of Schools music education, both in the cities and rural areas.

Every school had a school orchestra, which was the focus of all music teaching. Up to age eleven I attended a village school of about 80 children just outside Cambridge, which fielded its own orchestra. The Grammar school of under 1,000 pupils had two full sized orchestras - the ‘main’ orchestra and the ‘light’ orchestra, were you were allowed to play classical settings of popular music. And in the school holidays any pupils with a bit of talent were pressured into playing in the local Youth Orchestra.

I was the boy who, having written a tune I was really happy with for a composition exercise in music class was told "It’s in D, so it must end on a D, go and try again". I gave up the violin at age 16 because although I still loved the instrument, I had absolutely no interest in classical music, and didn’t really realise that you could do other things with it. It was only on my second pass through college, when I was sharing a squat with a folk band, that I realised you could do other things with a fiddle, and took it up again.

Coming from that background, it is very hard for me to accept that the Movement had NO impact on the popularity of traditional music - the fact that it kept me personally away from trad until I escaped its clutches is absolute proof that it had SOME impact, however small.

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Just for the record, what I actually said originally, that weejie took such great exception to was:

"This lead to a huge boom in violining, but probably played a big part in killing off traditional fiddling in England,"

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A.L.Lloyd - You’re right, someone above! He wasn’t American, but British by birth. He spent some of his youth in Australia and then returned to Britain.

Silly old me :-).

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"I’m indifferent to Billy Bragg’s preachings. But I tell you what, his strumming and yowling’s feckin’ rubbish…"

It probably is. Perhaps it could be best enjoyed by listening to Sting first.

Compared to Sting, Billy Bragg’s singing is choirs of angels and the Three Tenors. Though Sting probably plays a better lute.

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Presumably, Michael’s never heard the Bragg and Wilco ‘Mermaid Avenue’ albums or the utterly brilliant ‘Don’t Try This at Home’.

I need strayaway to back me up on this.

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"Just for the record, what I actually said originally, that weejie took such great exception to was:"

I didn’t take "great exception" to it. I asked you to back it up with some statistical evidence - and that was because your whole argument here is based on opinion - including the nonsense about Thurso not being "culturally remote" and Newcastle being "culturally remote" (the place that spawned the electric light bulb, the public railway system, and the steam dynamo which drove power stations - and where more than one music hall was packing in audiences long ago).

It was picking just one of your many posts displaying nothing but opinion and suggesting that you provide the kind of evidence that is expected to back up those opinions.

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["* Perhaps it could be best enjoyed by listening to Sting first.
*"]

Nicholas, you and your posts are so funny, and I mean that in a good way :)

You hit the nail right on the head.

Sting is a highly talented, creative, successful, tantrically-sexed, prematurely bald, abso dabso f***-off rich musician, to the extent of not noticing £5M of his wealth going missing (well after about 2 years he did), and probably an all-round nice kind of a Tyneside-ish "why aye, man" guy. Even though he deliberately lost that accent in pursuit of success.

But, more inportantly, he is an an absolutely horrendous c**** of a singer.

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>>"I didn’t take "great exception" to it. I asked you to back it up with some statistical evidence - and that was because your whole argument here is based on opinion."

Yes, as an engineer I am used to using language accurately. That word ‘probably’ makes it a statement of opinion, not a catagorical fact that needs to be backed up with proof.

This obsession with statistical proof is absurd and pathetic. There is none. No data was collected, and no one can conjour up numbers from thin air.

So let’s put the boot on the other foot: if you want to tell me my opinion is wrong, you provide some statistics to prove it. Hint: we know that trad music did decline markedly over the period, so in order to prove that none of that decline was due to the MM, once you have established how big the decline was, you are going to have to find a way to attribute the whole lot to other causes. Now do you see how ridiculous you are being?

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"Yes, as an engineer I am used to using language accurately"

Do you ever give in? Why should an engineer (something you seem to let everyone on here know frequently) make you "used to using language accurately"?

"So let’s put the boot on the other foot: if you want to tell me my opinion is wrong, you provide some statistics to prove it."

That is illogical reasoning. "The moon is full of green mice" - "What a silly idea, can you prove it?"- "Can you prove it’s not?"

" Hint: we know that trad music did decline markedly over the period, "

Do "we"? I’m not sure if the decline correlates with the formation of the MSOA. I seem to recall some sources suggesting that the decline began some time in the 19th century. I’m not saying it did - but first it would have to be established that the decline is consistent with the increase in tuition under the Maidstone Movement. There are enough statistics in that paper and elsewhere to get some idea of when the Maidstone Movement peaked. So when did the decline in traditional music begin - when was the biggest dip?

I’ve already suggested that this would be a place to start. It’s not my hypothesis, so there is no burden of proof on my part.

"Now do you see how ridiculous you are being?"

Perhaps this clearly illustrates how ridiculous your assertion was - it was a guess, by the look of things - especially as it appears that you don’t really know much about the Maidstone Movement - do you?

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"Why should being an engineer"

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Does an engineer have a birthday calibration cake?

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Woop nearly a third of the way to matching Roger Gall vs. Weejie, 2012!

Maybe we should ban use of the words "English" and "England" in thread titles?

Posted by .

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"After WWII, the government had assumed responsibility over instrumental education in schools using a methodology based on something called the Rural Music School Association Program (more Googling will have to reveal what this is). "

The Rural Music School Association existed before then Dr SS. It was an charitable association that was based on a county system - counties had a rural music school. After WW2, right enough, the government delegated the task of music tuition in state schools to the association’s county based schools. This ended around the 1970s. The association has been renamed "Benslow Music Trust".

One such county school is the "Wiltshire Rural Music School":

[Following the 2nd World War, whilst retaining its independent role in the community, WRMS assumed the task of providing instrumental tuition on behalf of the Local education Authority. However, in 1979 the County took full responsibility for Music within the school curriculum, though its West Wilts Music service continued to use our premises. In 1998 however, the Wiltshire Music Centre opened in Bradford on Avon, and the County music staff relocated there. This ended our official link with the County but permitted more time and space to be devoted to the needs of the wider community.]

http://sites.google.com/site/wiltshireruralmusicschool/about-wrms

An interesting workshop underway at the present time:

http://sites.google.com/site/wiltshireruralmusicschool/news/introductiontofolkfiddleworkshops

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"Maybe we should ban use of the words "English" and "England" in thread titles?"

Shouldn’t you be out smashing windows somewhere?

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I’m currently in between commissions.

Posted by .

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Not a nice place to be.

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I was going to let "Every school had a school orchestra, which was the focus of all music teaching" pass until I got to " as an engineer I am used to using language accurately".

Do I need to go on, or is it obvious ?

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It’s obvious now, Dave.

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I should have taken this as using language accurately and taken it that Skreech was admitting he’d been proved wrong:

"You refuted all that evidence,"

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One would think that one of the defining characteristics of a website/chat room with finely tuned specialised interest parameters would automatically have some kind of coherence of opinion. But it never ceases to amuse me that this hardly ever seems to be the case here.

Posted .

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Coherence? Here? Bwahahahaha…

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It’s not about not knowing your stuff. It’s about bull-dosing people who don’t know their stuff into thinking you do.

Or maybe that’s not quite fair. Maybe there’s nothing more to it than people who genuinely, but in cringing self delusion, merely think they know their stuff.

Posted .

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>>"Why should an engineer (something you seem to let everyone on here know frequently) make you "used to using language accurately?"
Mainly to avoid responsibility. "The bridge is probably strong enough" is a very, very different statement from "The bridge is strong enough". If some pillock like you who doesn’t understand the difference goes ahead and builds the bridge, and collapses, stating an opinion leaves me free of responsibility. Stating a fact would leave my company culpable.

>>"That is illogical reasoning. "The moon is full of green mice" - "What a silly idea, can you prove it?"- "Can you prove it’s not?"

EXACTLY! I’ve stated my opinion, and given the reasons for it. You’ve stated your opinion. They are both just opinions, neither is provable. And yet you have spent the last two days trying unsuccessfully to prove my opinion wrong, without giving us anything whatsoever to support your own.

>>"Do "we"? I’m not sure if the decline correlates with the formation of the MSOA. I seem to recall some sources suggesting that the decline began some time in the 19th century. I’m not saying it did - but first it would have to be established that the decline is consistent with the increase in tuition under the Maidstone Movement. "

Yet again, you are setting up straw men to joust against. All that would be true IF I had said that the Maidstone Movement was the sole cause of the decline. I didn’t. I merely said that it was a contributory factor.

>>"especially as it appears that you don’t really know much about the Maidstone Movement - do you?"

This from the man whose first post on the subject indicated that he thought the Maidstone Movement was just an instrument rental scheme, and then asked me to provide proof that members of the Maidstone School Orchestras Association an National Union of School Orchestras played in orchestras?

>>"The Rural Music School Association existed before then Dr SS. It was an charitable association that was based on a county system - counties had a rural music school. After WW2, right enough, the government delegated the task of music tuition in state schools to the association’s county based schools. This ended around the 1970s. The association has been renamed "Benslow Music Trust".

Once again your googling has gone off half cocked - you happen to have stumble on to the website of one individual county music school, which happened to provide a service to their LEA. But that wasn’t the case for the organisation as a whole - their main aim and function was providing tuition for adult learners, they only had 20 county schools in the whole country and by their own admission "provision of music tuition by local authorities burgeoned, rendering the need for the RMSA’s activities more and more redundant. "

You can get it from the horse’s mouth here:

http://benslowmusic.org/index.asp?PageID=6

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"And yet you have spent the last two days trying unsuccessfully to prove my opinion wrong, without giving us anything whatsoever to support your own."

I’ve not been trying to prove anything. I’ve countered your "reasoning" to show how unsound it is.

"Yet again, you are setting up straw men to joust against. All that would be true IF I had said that the Maidstone Movement was the sole cause of the decline. I didn’t. I merely said that it was a contributory factor."

There was no strawman. I asked :

"You are asking me to prove things - let’s see you provide evidence that the Maidstone movement affected traditional music."

Did I ask you to prove it was the "sole cause of decline"?

"This from the man whose first post on the subject indicated that he thought the Maidstone Movement was just an instrument rental scheme, and then asked me to provide proof that members of the Maidstone School Orchestras Association an National Union of School Orchestras played in orchestras?"

Where on earth did I even indicate that I thought it was just a rental scheme - I asked you to prove that "half a million" pupils played in classical orchestras - you responded that they had to play in an orchestra to be in the movement. That is not true.


"Once again your googling has gone off half cocked - you happen to have stumble on to the website of one individual county music school, which happened to provide a service to their LEA. But that wasn’t the case for the organisation as a whole - their main aim and function was providing tuition for adult learners, they only had 20 county schools in the whole country and by their own admission "provision of music tuition by local authorities burgeoned, rendering the need for the RMSA’s activities more and more redundant. "

You obviously have a problem with comprehension. After WW2 , the government sponsored the association to provide music tuition in schools and whatever the original purpose of that association, it was their method (developed in the 30s by Noel Hale) that was adopted. Hence the method being known as "the Rural Music School Association Programme" It is your stumbling on to the Benslow site from Google that has confused you. That Wiltshire site confirms the words in that academic paper - the paper you haven’t read. Now, I don’t know how the method was administered in counties where there were no branches of the association, or the finer details but in the case of Wiltshire -it was directly administered by the association’s branch. I may have got things wrong in places, but Dr SS was advocating a "googling" and that’s exactly what I did. Now, if you can explain exactly what the "Rural Music School Association Programme" was - not just your opinion, then I’d be grateful for the enlightenment - but in the absence of that, I’ll take the words of that academic paper, and the words of the Wiltsire Rural Music School Association, confirming the words of that paper as holding ground.

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"words of the Wiltsire Rural Music School" not Association.

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Nice of you two lads to keep each other preoccupied….

;-)

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Skreech:

"But that wasn’t the case for the organisation as a whole - their main aim and function was providing tuition for adult learners, "

RMSA:

["and our charitable objectives remain that we should continue “to promote music education for social benefit through the study and practice of music, especially in its social and co-operative forms, amongst students of all ages”.]

http://benslowmusic.org/index.asp?PageID=6

Doesn’t tally.

WRMS:

"Following the 2nd World War, whilst retaining its independent role in the community, WRMS assumed the task of providing instrumental tuition on behalf of the Local education Authority. However, in 1979 the County took full responsibility for Music within the school curriculum"

http://sites.google.com/site/wiltshireruralmusicschool/about-wrms

RMSA:

"During this era [after Ibberson retired in 1962 - and up to and including Norman Hearn’s appointment in 1979], however, provision of music tuition by local authorities burgeoned, rendering the need for the RMSA’s activities more and more redundant."

http://benslowmusic.org/index.asp?PageID=6

Does tally.

So Skreech - what exactly was the "Rural Music School Association Programme" referred to in that paper?

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Skreech:

""Sometimes you just have to use common sense. In the case of the Maidstone Movement there is plenty of evidence to show that there was less traditional music in England in after the movement had gained popularity than before"

So - where is that evidence?

It’s a fairly straightforward question - or was that just an opinion?

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"common sense".

One of the problems people have with statistics is that their correct extrapolation often turns out to be counterintuitive.

If traditional music in England was already in steep decline before the Maidstone Movement, then yes, it will have further declined after the movement gained popularity. And the movement could just as easily have made no difference what so ever. But we’ll never know.

Does the British Office for National Statistics collect data on such stuff even now? Nope. It’s all mere opinion. In newspapers we segregate opinion from fact and signpost the two accordingly.

Posted .

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Getting back to the ‘broken tradition’. If it was only a few players who carried forward styles of playing learned aurally into an age of commercial recordings and collectors does the repertoire recovered from manuscripts still count as part of the tradition ?

yaalhouse’s "rumperty tumperty rumperty tum" as opposed to "diddley diddley" does not come from the notation. Are some of the styles of playing implicit in the dances?

I think someone said here that the style in which jigs (including many commonly played in Ireland) are played for rapper sword dancing is almost required by the tempo. I have been told people who play for rapper that is it almost always a solo instrument from clarity at that tempo. On the other hand for other dancing styles jigs are usually played a lot slower than most irish sessions, with a different lilt.

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For example - was anyone here aware that part of the Board of Education’s revised syllabus of Physical Exercises in 1909 was the inclusion of Morris dance?

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If there was a revival of traditional music during the Maidstone era, there is still no proven cause and effect that the movement had anything to do with it. It’s all conjecture.

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"If there was a revival of traditional music during the Maidstone era, there is still no proven cause and effect that the movement had anything to do with it. It’s all conjecture."

I agree. That’s why the assertion has no merit without those statistics.
Using the same opinion based "logic" you could put forward a claim that orchestral music in schools during that period suffered because many pupils were too knackered from Morris dancing.

It gets rather silly.

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""however, provision of music tuition by local authorities burgeoned, rendering the need for the RMSA’s activities more and more redundant." Doesn’t really tally with: "The government delegated the task of music tuition in state schools to the association’s county based schools" Weej.

But anyway. Arguing a case like this based on the ‘evidence’ of individual sentences pulled out of vaguely related academic documents is extremely dangerous. It is akin to an arguement about law, based only on the letter of the law, with absolutely no knowledge of the spirit of the law, and how it is applied in practice.

So I am going to re-state my case:-

It is my opinion that the Maidstone Project played a large part in the decline if English Traditional Music. That opinion is based on my personal knowledge of music history. That knowledge was gained from text books on the history of music. I can’t give you specific references, because it was a long time ago and I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition. But it doesn’t matter: as far as I’m aware none of it is contentious, and I think you will find the pertinent points are the same in any text on the subject, including those that you have referred to. Those pertinent points are:

1. The Maidstone Movement was a step-change in the way music was taught. Prior to the Movement students were taught individually or in small groups. Their teacher passed on all his skills with no particular regard to how the student would use them. Within the movement large groups of students were taught skills aimed solely at allowing them to play in orchestras. They learned that first thing you do, before you tune your instrument, is to put up your music stand. They learned that if you bow a piece in any way other than as it is marked on the score, you are doing it wrong.

2. The Movement was successful, and other teaching organisations (the RMSA and others providing the same opportunities for adults, and more importantly the Local Education Authorites providing music education within state schools) based their pedagogy on the core principles of the Maidstone Movement - teaching groups of children orchestral playing.

I appreciate that this does not preclude participants from ‘re-learning’ to play trad (I know from personal experience, and the countless threads on this very board), but how many would bother? After all, they have already achieved their original aims of learning an instrument and making music.


As to how much English Traditional Music declined, and how much of that decline was due to the Maidstone Movement, only an idiot would ask for ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’ or ‘statistics’: because those are purely subjective questions - the answer depends entirely on what you regard as ‘traditional music’.

But we do know for a fact that certain elements of what most people would regard as ‘traditional music’ suffered a major decline and even extinction over the period: if you visit pretty well any museum in England with an instrument collection, you’ll find English Guitars. Often in great numbers. We know that at the beginning of the 19th century they were very common, but by the 1930s they were extinct. The Hurdy-Gurdy was once common in England (again, you’ll find them in museums). We only know of one English gurdy player in 1930, and the instrument was completely extinct from then until the 1970s, when its revival in England was based entirely on the French tradition, not English.

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No one expects the Spanish Inquisition

Posted .

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Maybe traditional English music died because the music being taught, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms etc was better?

Posted .

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>>"Maybe traditional English music died because the music being taught, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms etc was better?"

I think you could safely say that it was atleast in part due to the fact that those forms of music were more popular, yes.

You could also argue that the music didn’t die at all, it just evolved into the works of Vaugh Williams, George Butterworth and others. It all depends on what you regard as ‘traditional’.

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ha ha, that’s like saying Vivaldi evolved into O’Carolan

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Englishness has been mainly lost.
There is no national English feeling among its people. There is no need! National culture always seems to thrive in places where people are subjugated. England has not been invaded by an occupying force since 1066 and in the centuries soon after the Norman Conquest I suppose that there would have been a strong rebel pull to the past and English traditions.
But then, slowly England went on to be the hub of its empire by becoming the invading occupying force itself, thus causing rebellious nationalism to decline completely and any necessity for a ‘national culture’. England thought it ran the world (and to some degree did!). That’s why the British boats and aeroplane militia are still called ‘The Royal Navy’ and ‘The Royal Air Force’ even the postal system is called ‘The Royal Mail’: no mention of which country. There was no need; England arrogantly assumed all others were just Johnny-foreigners!
My mother’s generation revived a sort of nationalism during WWII but all that ‘Gawd bless you Princess Elizabeth & Mr Churchill’ and raising a glass to the king in East End pubs had had any vestigial real traditions squeezed out of them by the drudgery and puritanical guilt of the Victorian and First World War periods. Being royalist was as near to any English tradition that they knew. And England won anyway! So even less need for a cultural revival.

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Maybe, under your same theory, the only Englishness you see left nowadays, namely in supporting the English National football squad, only exists because they are crap at it.

Posted .

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"""however, provision of music tuition by local authorities burgeoned, rendering the need for the RMSA’s activities more and more redundant." Doesn’t really tally with: "The government delegated the task of music tuition in state schools to the association’s county based schools" Weej."

See what you’ve done there? You’ve left out the "during this era" bit. This tallies with the account of the WRMS.
The WRMS history also tallies with the paper on the Maidstone Movement.

"But anyway. Arguing a case like this based on the ‘evidence’ of individual sentences pulled out of vaguely related academic documents is extremely dangerous."

Dangerous"? In what way? The "vaguely related academic document" (it’s a paper, not an abstract - admit you were wrong) is actually about the Maidstone Movement including its demise. It’s in the title.

" It is akin to an arguement about law, based only on the letter of the law, with absolutely no knowledge of the spirit of the law, and how it is applied in practice."

What a ridiculous argument - it bears no relation to this whatsoever. Where did you google that one from?

" The Maidstone Movement was a step-change in the way music was taught. Prior to the Movement students were taught individually or in small groups…"

The Maidstone Movement was primarily involved in group string classes - more precisely the violin. The emergence a short time later of the sister organisation to the MSOA, the NUSO was nowhere near as successful as the violin classes (there is no evidence that the other instruments that MSOA offered tuition in met with any success) - less than 9% of state schools showed an interest in the programme.

" The Movement was successful, and other teaching organisations (the RMSA and others providing the same opportunities for adults, and more importantly the Local Education Authorites providing music education within state schools) based their pedagogy on the core principles of the Maidstone Movement - teaching groups of children orchestral playing."

That is showing complete ignorance. The Maidstone Movement’s "core principles" were not about "orchestral playing" (only one part was concerned with the formation of orchestras - MSOA - the successful component - concentrated on violin classes) and the RMSA programme (according to a well referenced academic paper) was later adopted (sponsored by central government) by state schools. This was a different method (again, according to an academic paper, well referenced) How can you state that the principles were the same if you don’t know what the Maidstone core principles were? It is clearly stated in the paper that MSOA and NUSO used different teaching methods (though the same music).
Which teaching method are you claiming the LEAs used?

You are very mixed up, Skreech. Unless you can actually back your assertions up with some evidence, then it can only be taken with a pinch of salt. The Maidstone Movement was essentially a violin pedagogy - any attempts to further that pedagogy were met with much less enthusiasm. The movement failed and another method was adopted. That is what the paper related, and unless evidence is provided to the contrary, rather than your own unsubstantiated opinion, then I can only take it as hogwash.

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Oh dear.

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"As to how much English Traditional Music declined, and how much of that decline was due to the Maidstone Movement, only an idiot would ask for ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’ or ‘statistics’: because those are purely subjective questions - the answer depends entirely on what you regard as ‘traditional music’."

I asked for evidence that the decline coincided with the rise of the movement. That is not "idiotic".
I would regard the music played by Morris groups as traditional. That music actually increased at the same time the Maidstone movement was initiated. As Mr Gill pointed out, this still is not enough to correlate traditional music with classical music for such analysis, but it does contradict the basis of your theory somewhat.

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What do you think is a more authoritative and valid source?

1. A well-referenced academic paper that got itself into a peer reviewed journal, written by someone who has obviously made use of a wide range of written an oral sources. Those things aren’t that easy to get published in.

2. Someone’s interpretation of their personal, subjective experiences. And some text books they read a while ago. Can’t remember which ones.

Discuss.

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Difficult one that, Dr SS. Do you have any research papers on the subject?

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>>"Discuss."

It depends on the question. If the question had been obkjective - How many people played violin in 1900? Then an objective answer, backed by facts, is required.

But with a subjective question - Did traditional music decline? The answer also has to be subjective. Peppering it with facts and references might make it appear more valid, but it is still only truthful with regard to your own interpretation of the question.


BTW How did you find out that that was a masters thesis? I couldn’t find that information, and based my guess on the weigh of the documnet - I don’t know anything about American colleges, but in this country Masters’ dissertations are very rearely that long, so I assumed it was a Ph.D.

And how did you conclude that the journal article was fresh material, not abstracted from the thesis, without having read the latter?

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"But with a subjective question - Did traditional music decline? The answer also has to be subjective. Peppering it with facts and references might make it appear more valid, but it is still only truthful with regard to your own interpretation of the question."

Hilarious.

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"Did traditional music decline?" This could only be a subjective question if it is asking weather its quality declined. But if it is asking weather its quantity declined then the answer is a straight forward measurement. The correct answer, though, does not exist because there is no data

Posted .

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>>"But if it is asking weather its quantity declined then the answer is a straight forward measurement"

So what do you measure? Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes traditional music. If you measure the amount of what you consider to be traditional music now, and I measure the amount of what I consider to be traditional music, we will get different answers. Neither answer will be wrong, but they are completely subjective.

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"The correct answer, though, does not exist because there is no data"

But there is data on the growth of Morris dancing. At least there is evidence that Morris groups grew around the same time.
It is not enough to say one way or another whether traditional music grew or declined. A few more examples like that, however, might put any assertion that there was a decline during that period in doubt. Most sources suggest the decline started long before that, and several sources state that a revival started around the turn of the 20th century.

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If we’ve both got a ball park definition (rather than one of us, for example, including Bach, Beethovan and Brahms) then the actual totals may vary, but the percentage decline won’t.

But it’s academic anyway, because however you define "traditional", there ain’t no data

Posted .

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x-post, weejie’s right

Posted .

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Skreech, what is actually being questioned is your assertions about the Maidstone Movement. They appear to be misguided.

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>>"If we’ve both got a ball park definition (rather than one of us, for example, including Bach, Beethovan and Brahms) then the actual totals may vary, but the percentage decline won’t."

I’m not convinced. If instrumental trad declined but folk song stayed strong, you thought of trad as purely instrumental and I though of it as both, then we would get very different answers.

This idea came up a while back when I crossed swords with DrSS over the difference between Irish and Scottish trad. We had diametrically opposite opinions, but I realized after the thread went cold that the only reason for it was that we had different ideas of what constituted Scottish trad. She (I think) was thinking about the music you would expect to hear at a trad session or performance today, I was thinking about music that has traditionally been played in Scotland, so including stuff like East Coast fiddling, fiddle orchestras and accordion/fiddle combos. Both of us were right within our own sphere of reference, but our answers were completely different.

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>>"Skreech, what is actually being questioned is your assertions about the Maidstone Movement. They appear to be misguided."
The only ‘assertion’ that is necessary to my position is that the Maidstone Movement taught a large number of children to play orchestral music. Are you going to argue with that?

The second ‘assertion’ - that that form of teaching carried over into the state school education system isn’t necessary to my position, it simply explains how I’ve arrived at my judgment of what impact the MM might have had on individual children. Again, I don’t think there can be much doubt about the ‘assertion’ - if you don’t believe it, go into an English school today and see how they teach music.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"The only ‘assertion’ that is necessary to my position is that the Maidstone Movement taught a large number of children to play orchestral music. Are you going to argue with that?"

That’s not what you said, though is it? You claimed that being in an orchestra was essential to being in the movement - that it was orchestra based - and more.

" I don’t think there can be much doubt about the ‘assertion’ - if you don’t believe it, go into an English school today and see how they teach music."

That is argument based on logical fallacy.

You make an assertion, you back it up with fact - or some authoritative evidence. First of all, you would have to establish what the "teaching method" was for the MSOA - then you would need to compare it with the present day instrumental instruction method. You have done neither. On the contrary. You have asserted things that are contradicted by a well researched paper. Simply telling somebody to "go into an English school" is not adding any weight to your argument. It’s just another of your "speak to a Cumbrian" style arguments.
The burden of proof lies with you.

Referring to an academic paper, which states that the Maidstone method was replaced with another, carries considerable weight.

Dr SS presented a wee discussion topic a few posts up.

I suggest that you digest those words.

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>>"But there is data on the growth of Morris dancing. At least there is evidence that Morris groups grew around the same time."

So is the Morris Dancing we know today ‘traditional’? Or is it a modern revival? I don’t know, and to be honest the answer I would give to that question would depend on the context.

The original form of the dance, with bands of people dancing through the streets behind a pipe and tabor player, in dances no more choreographed than an African tribal dance, was pretty well wiped out by the Church about the beginning of the C19. At the same time a handfull of gentry set up display teams, who performed the choreographed dances we know today at social gatherings.

A traditional activity is one that is carried on today, but which has its origins in the past. How far in the past?

Ordinarily I would say Modern Morris dancing is traditional, because it goes back a couple of hundred years. But to a musicologist or music historian, looking at the whole of history, anything from the C19 is considered modern.

Like I said, these things are purely subjective, and impossible to quantify.

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"no more choreographed than an African tribal dance" :-/

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"Ordinarily I would say Modern Morris dancing is traditional, because it goes back a couple of hundred years. But to a musicologist or music historian, looking at the whole of history, anything from the C19 is considered modern."

So, concertina playing in Ireland is a "modern" activity.

Is there a tradition of concertina playing in Ireland?

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"Ordinarily I would say Modern Morris dancing is traditional, because it goes back a couple of hundred years."

Older than that, surely. Documented back to the 15th century, and probably older than that.

Re: English traditional and folk music

"no more choreographed than an African tribal dance"

You’re going to regret that one.

This isn’t choreographed?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edyni5dSGmw


(I can’t find the video of it now, but what I was looking for when I found that was a far more intricate Somali dance in which the dancers move in a circle with individual dancers flying out of it spinning like dervishes for a few turns before rejoining the circle - simply surviving the thing without falling over and throwing up would be an achievement for me).

Re: English traditional and folk music

>>"Ordinarily I would say Modern Morris dancing is traditional, because it goes back a couple of hundred years."

Older than that, surely. Documented back to the 15th century, and probably older than that"

But that is part of the point I’m making - about the beginning of the C19 there was a step-change in the form it took. What happened before and after that time are two very different things. So what we have now is either a tradition dating back to the renaissance and before, but which was broken and revived; or a tradition that only dates from the C19, depending on your point of view.

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>>"So, concertina playing in Ireland is a "modern" activity."

In terms of music history yes. The concertina is always considered a modern instrument.

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>>""no more choreographed than an African tribal dance"
You’re going to regret that one."

It’s getting to the point where I regret ever saying anything in this place ;-) .

But yes, that probably is about the level of choreography in the early forms of Morris - everyone knows the dance, but the finer details just happen, there is an awful lot of ‘seat of the pants’ stuff in it. And they don’t where their cricket whites.

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Lets take it in two halves. "no more choreographed than …" I suppose the logic there is choreographed = novel and therefore not traditional. On that basis "traditional" would only apply to things that had been unchanged for millenia. Or that if migration resulted in the formation of a new cultural group then only the dances of the first years counted as "traditional".

"…an African tribe". Please, can I have some vidence that traditional dance in Africa does not involve some creation of novel figures by creative individuals ?

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"In terms of music history yes. The concertina is always considered a modern instrument."

I notice that you avoided answering the question.

Is there a tradition of concertina playing in Ireland?

Re: English traditional and folk music

>>"Is there a tradition of concertina playing in Ireland?"

Yes.

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OK, so given that the earliest records of Anglo concertinas actually being played (Dan Worrall, Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland) appear to be from around 1868, then it is conceivable that an activity could have started in the latter half of the 19th century, and handed down to the extent that it became a tradition.

Surely this must also apply to Morris dancing and its music - irrespective of earlier forms of the dance.
A prime example being the Anglo concertina playing of William Kimber Senior (who played fiddle and whistle too), which coincides with the instrument being played in Ireland. The Kimber style was (apparently) rigidly handed down to his son, and his playing (harmonic) style became a basis of Morris dance concertina music from then onwards - though developing into more intricate styles (the Kimbers only used two rows) as the instrument developed along with the music and dance.

It would be interesting to know if any "musicologists or music historians" do not accept that there are concertina playing traditions - especially on the basis that the instrument is too modern.

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>>"Surely this must also apply to Morris dancing and its music"

Yes, it does. It is quite legitimate to describe Morris Dancing as traditional. But how long is that tradition? Morris Dancers like to claim it goes back to the C15 and beyond. There is an element of legitimacy in that claim, no one can say they are wrong. But if you are looking at the history of dance, that is not at all helpful. Looking at Morris Dancing as it is performed today tells you absolutely nothing about how it was performed int the C17 and before. At the beginning of the C18 it was wiped out (either entirely, or almost entirely) by the Church, and revived shortly after in a very different form - the early form was a dance performed by the community, like those African dances we’ve been looking at - unchoregraphed in that no one had sat down and written out a set of steps, the dance presumably evolved over time, and the participants learned it by participation. After the C18 it was a display activity, choreographed, rehearsed and performed by a display team. The analogyu would be that the early form was a session, the later form a stage performance. Is a stage performance a type of session? I don’t think so.

Take a look at this picture of Morris Dancing in the C17 - it really has very little in common with what you see today.

http://stranraerfolkclub.org.uk/Morris-Dancers2.jpg

So from a historical point of view it is far more helpful to view the two as separate entities. Modern morris dancing is traditional, but not half as traditional as most people think.

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Musicologists have no problem with traditions being of recent date. There are plenty of PhD theses on things like karaoke, urban children’s songs, C&W, industrial music, Finnish tango, the folk revival, the tonality of 1980s pop, the origins of American crooning… If it’s an identifiable musical phenomenon somebody is going to want to analyze it to find out what it means, how it came about and how it works.

And here’s a site on the musicology of the concertina.

http://www.concertina.com/eydmann/life-and-times/index.htm

I have read that thesis, but it was a while ago and I can’t recall what if anything he says about Ireland.

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That 17th century picture is quite recognizable as Border Morris pretty much as done today. The upheld hands are more typical of the Cotswold morris style, and the hobby horse is more often used in a separate kind of dance now, but obviously there would have been more varieties of morris mixing features in a different way back then.

I once researched the travels of Captain Cook and came across an account by one of his sailors describing their time ashore in Tahiti. He mentioned troupes of itinerant dancers going around with a song/dance/drama act from village to village and getting paid for it, and said that it all seemed very similar to the morris dancing he knew back in England. So the idea of specific groups of trained performers doing morris seems to have been well established by the 1770s.

Surely there is a continuum here, from dances everybody in the community does, to ones that only the better dancers do, to dances that are considered so special it’s worth paying money to watch them.

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Weejie - not sure of that was the same video, but definitely the same dance.

Re: English traditional and folk music

" But how long is that tradition?"

It doesn’t matter.

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"unchoregraphed in that no one had sat down and written out a set of steps,"

Do you have to sit down and write it out?

Surely there are some traditions that are structured but not written down (I wonder what I’m hinting at).

Re: English traditional and folk music

>>"That 17th century picture is quite recognizable as Border Morris pretty much as done today. The upheld hands are more typical of the Cotswold morris style, and the hobby horse is more often used in a separate kind of dance now, but obviously there would have been more varieties of morris mixing features in a different way back then"

Weejies picture is interesting, I wish it was dated more accurately. I suspect it is probably from the end of the C17, and depicting the biginning of the new form, rather than the end of the old. The gentility of the dance is at odds with other pictures and descriptions from the first half of the century.

I’m not sure how much you can read into the Captain Cook reference - you interpret it as pointing to the modern form, to me it is more suggestive of the old form, particularly if the fact that they are itinerants was part of the similarity he saw - as I understand it the later sides were organised by the ‘big house’ to display in their own villages on feast days and social occasions. So I think the reference is too ambiguous to be of help.

Re: English traditional and folk music

>>"Surely there is a continuum here, from dances everybody in the community does, to ones that only the better dancers do, to dances that are considered so special it’s worth paying money to watch them."

Maybe, but then there is a eejitinuum from Jazz through Swing and R&B to Rock & Roll, but that doesn’t make Rock & Roll traditional Jazz. The big perblem we have is that ‘traditional’ means different things to different people.

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"Weejies picture is interesting, I wish it was dated more accurately. I suspect it is probably from the end of the C17, and depicting the biginning of the new form, rather than the end of the old."

Early 17th century, it seems:

http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/opacdirect/1388.html

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eejitinuum…. Like this thread? ;-)