Bob the fiddler

Bob the fiddler

Interesting article on Bob Dylan by Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2011/0528/1224297953575.html

One quote; ‘Nevertheless, Dylan’s plugging-in crystallised a crucial moment in cultural history: the monetising of folk culture. The emerging cult of Dylan as poet, as individualist artist, was also the death of a notion of folk songs as a collective possession. Dylan was turning something that was loosely possessed into something that was definitively and individually owned.

All great folk songs were written by someone. Large elements of them are made of collective tropes, and often of stock phrases and repetitions, that don’t belong to any one singer. But the really good ones have the stamp of an individual personality and vision. Dylan wasn’t the first folk singer to infuse traditional materials with touches of personal genius.’

Was wondering how this applies to newly-composed ITM tunes. You know the way some tunes sound like they’ve been around for generations, even though they were composed recently…Most composers don’t seem to mind if their compositions become part of the wider tradition, while others think their work is being ‘stolen’.

Re: Bob the fiddler

I don’t think "the monetising of folk culture" pivoted around Dylan plugging in. That is a perpetual process. Perhaps "the monetising of the late 1950s US folk boom" which had professed a sort of purism, but you could say the same of the Kingston Trio or Peter, Paul and Mary.
However, I don’t mean to misrepresent the article which is more thoughtful than the quoted excerpt suggests.

There aren’t that many tunes that continue to bear an indelible stamp no matter how far they stray from the source, but some, like Ronnie Cooper tunes, do seem to retain something of the author no matter who is playing them.

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Re: Bob the fiddler

The same thing was said about the first commercial records released 50 odd years before that. For the first time music became something that didn’t float away in the air and became a personal possession to be repeated again and again. One of the major turning points of the 20th century. Mind you they said the same thing about the printing press in Europe a couple of hundred years prior to that when the printed word became the property of the common individual as opposed to say one bible shared between hundreds. It wasn’t Dylan driving the cultural shift, it was the record companies milking the public for every bit of spare change they had couching the fleecing in all the hip terms of the day, making people feel good about their purchase. I really haven’t heard that many new tunes (composed in the last ten years) that sound like they’ve been around for generations, most of them sound to me like they were thrown together at a celtic festival main tent session after too many pints of lager and a bag of mushrooms thrown in for good measure. Notable exceptions are of course John Brady, Vincent Broderick (RIP) and others.

Re: Bob the fiddler

"most of them sound to me like they were thrown together at a celtic festival main tent session after too many pints of lager and a bag of mushrooms thrown in for good measure"
🙂 🙂 🙂

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Re: Bob the fiddler

you hear that? it’s the wind!

Re: Bob the fiddler

…blowing like a circle around my skull …

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