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"?