the meaning of tradition?

the meaning of tradition?

In Irish traditional music song and dance, what does tradition mean for different people in different parts of the world? Can you define tradition so as to include everyone or is it as some people would like to believe only for the elite???
I think tradition is part of the person and therefore not exclusive. Can you help me come to a satisfactory answer, please?

Re: the meaning of tradition?

http://coyotebanjo.blogspot.com/
If you read the description on the site above, it covers almost everything. I say almost, because for me, the original words used were "Oral Tradition". The idea being that in days of yore there were no such things as defiitive versions of tunes or songs. The evolution was an unconscious one, things were learned very often at one hearing and memories can play any number of tricks. Today, the evolution is very often a conscious one, so things change a lot quicker. But time will still weed out the wheat from the chaff as it always did. For example,, in the sixties and seventies, there were a lot of songs written about the Vietnam war. Good, Bad or indifferent, but now you will very rarely hear only the very best of them. They applied to a very specific period and don’t mean anything to the generations that didn’t live thro’ that time.
Also, ‘Tradition" didn’t just apply to the actual singing and playing of songs and tunes but to the way of life they were part of. An old feller talking about the "Evil Eye" was every bit as meaningful as a virtuoso fiddler playing a great version of a tune.
So for me, tradition was originally and still can be an "Oral", or indeed an "Aural" one. The goalposts have moved a little but basically nature has it’s way of selecting all that is good and condemning the rest to the eternal dustbin.

Re: the meaning of tradition?

The problem with defining it, and paying attention to its details means you are starting along the road of preservation. And this inevitably skews what it means. Fine for accademics and anthrapologists who study it from afar. But if you want to be a part of it, ie play some music, then you are best not to think about it.

Your reason for learning a tune should not be influenced by where it came from. Your influence for playing an instrument should not be influenced by where it came from

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Re: the meaning of tradition?

"The problem with defining it, and paying attention to its details means you are starting along the road of preservation. And this inevitably skews what it means."

Don’t be silly, Michael. If that were true, there would be no Irish style, no style of any sort, nor any tradition of any sort, because there would be nothing to pass on to anyone. You couldn’t learn anything by listening, at that point, because that would be paying attention to details. Everything is made up of details, for cat’s sake.

Curmudgeonliness is all very fine and dandy, but some common sense would be nice.

Re: the meaning of tradition?

I’m afraid that I have to agree with Michael here(even although the likes of BB(with capitals) will accuse me of sooking in). 😉
The tradition is being "passed on" or "learned" by people who are actually playing the music and not the academics and the like who try to define the music. OK, so they may point you to recordings of music and written notation and tell you its history. You might choose (and I do all the time) to learn tunes that way but "the music" lives and grows because it is being played by musicians.

Of course, it’s important that certain aspects of the music are preserved and documented. Also, that it’s defined, up to a point. For instance, if I hadn’t heard of Kevin Burke and somebody said he was a country and western singer, I probably wouldn’t go to see him. However, I know that he is an Irish fiddler so I will!

Sorry, I can’t get to the point as quickly as Michael. However, I’ll concur with his view that the most important thing about traditional music is the actual "playing of it".

Re: the meaning of tradition?

May I point out that, for instance, Chris Smith is both an academic AND a musician? Sure, if you go to extremes, you end up pickling a tradition and not simply learn and study and respect it, but living traditions don’t worry too much about all that. There’s room for study and details and picking at.

What, Johnny J, the hell is "sooking in"?

Re: the meaning of tradition?

A Scottish expression (maybe, used elsewhere) referring to the practice of trying to ingratiate yourself with someone or, at least, staying "on side" with them.

I’ve tried to "sook in" with you a few times over the years too, Zina. 🙂

Re: the meaning of tradition?

Does it come from "sucking up" ?

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Re: the meaning of tradition?

"..and the OBN goes to…"

Re: the meaning of tradition?

And here I thought all this time that you just agreed with me, Johnny J! ;)

OBN?! You chaps are doing my head in! Er…Order of the British, um…nation? Aargh.

Re: the meaning of tradition?

Close…. Order of the Brown Nose

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LOL — you’re going to get such a bruising, McDonnell!

Re: the meaning of tradition?

If we’re going to be academic and pedantic, to get back to the original question………..I believe that someone, possibly Cecil Sharp, defined the tradition as requiring three seperate qualifications;
1) Continuity; people in the next generation play the same stuff as the last generation.
2) Selection; but not ALL of the same stuff; hence, yes, no-one sings "One, two, three, what are we fighting for ?…." ( maybe they should ( little bit of politics ) ) anymore.
3) Variation; as they continue to play/sing/perform it, it varies and changes ( otherwise known as the Folk Process, or, in my case, getting it wrong again ).
Having it written down, or recorded, means you can always go back and look it up/listen to it again. What you may well find is that, down at the local bar, people aren’t playing "Apples in Winter" the same as it is in O’Neill, or even as the Woods Band used to do it. That, particularly is how Variation works. Every version, however recorded, is just a snapshot of how it was played at one time by one person/s.
And there are other fine people, like Mick Maloney, who is both an academic and a fine musician - I remember Burke, Maloney, and Docherty playing gigs at Islington Folk Club back in 19 hundred and frozen to death…..

Re: the meaning of tradition?

Did you have to walk a mile each way, uphill, Pete?

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P.S. We still haven’t exactly answered Feadog’s question. Feadog, we’re still trying to define "tradition"!

Re: the meaning of tradition?

It’s funny; these days a fair bit of the music people are playing at sessions is neither Irish nor Traditional…

non sequitur alert.

Re: the meaning of tradition?

For me "traditional music" is a way of learning and an attitude. The notes that come out aren’t half as important as the way they got in.

Re: the meaning of tradition?

In my case, the tradition that was passed on was the love of music, not a particular body of music. My dad mostly played trumpet, although he dabbled in other instruments—and he encouraged all his children to play music of all types. But he almost exclusively played American jazz—definitely not music his immigrant grandparents brought over on the boats from Scotland, Germany and Ireland (although he did sing me lots of snippets of songs, some of which were from those distant lands). My choice of Scottish and Irish traditional music was a concious one, because it spoke to me in a way that other music didn’t. So, am I being traditional when I play a "traditional" ITM/STM tune that I learned with cuts and rolls and other ornamentation, or am I being traditional when my playing starts to "swing" a bit, like the tunes my dad used to play?

Re: the meaning of tradition?

It’s about the scenario I’ve seen played often. It goes like this:

"I like Ireland. My great grandfather is from Ireland. I like Celtic knotwork, I like the laid back humour, and I like the guiness. So I learned the tin whistle"

It’s just not good enough

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Re: the meaning of tradition?

In my humble opinion, love of Guiness, or for that matter, any beer, stout or ale is one of the primary motivators behind human progress in general. 😉

Re: the meaning of tradition?

Zina, no, I always walked DOWN the roads……..

Re: the meaning of tradition?

It also depends where you want to be. Would you like to have been with the guy who said, "Wow, look at this petite little instrument with the cute f holes and the lovely scroll at the top that I just got from my travels in Italy. You jam it under your chin and scrape it with a horses tail." Or do you really want to be that guy who says, "you are not playing that dumb 8-string greek thing with me"?

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Re: the meaning of tradition?

LOL — fair enough, Pete, fair enough! 🙂

Re: the meaning of tradition?

thanks everyone!
There’s lots to think about here.
Feadog