Saturday, August 29, 2009

Greetings from Vermont ...

Various YouTube postings of CFC activities have attracted an audience from the colonies. My friend wants to share with us this folk song from Texas.
It seems to be about animal abuse ...

The traffic noise brings a certain 'je ne sais quoi', but I worry that, in her enthusiasm for singing, she seems to be driving on the WRONG side of the road!
Then again, so is everyone else.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Being the Fourteenth of August 2009...

David: Staggerlee
Wild in the Country: Paul
Throw Another Log on the Fire: Margaret
Ring's End Rose: John
I Don't Know Why I Love You: Berry
It Ain't Me Babe: Maggie
Leaving on a Jet Plane: Lynda/Paul
My Mother the Mountain: Jane
Black Velvet Band: Bill 1:2
Eyes of Willow Green: Sandra
Fiddler's Green: Ray
Calico Printers Clerk: Mave
You've Really Got a Hold On Me: Ken/Berry
Glenamadie: Lorna
Out of the Blue: Mick
Scarecrow: Colin
All Along the Watchtower: David
I'm Only Sleeping: Paul
Those Were the Days: Margaret
The Presence: John
Heartbeat: Berry
A Woman is a Sometime Thing: Maggie
Anywhere I Lay My Hat: Lynda
This Street, That Man, This Life: Jane
Waterloo Sunset: Bill 1:2
Poitín and Potatoes: Sandra
Down By the Dockyard Wall: Ray
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze: Mave
A Poem About Waterloo: David
The Russian Vodka Song: Ken
Quiet Weekend: Lorna
Harvest Home/Jacky Tarr: Mick/Lorna
Old Peculiar: Colin

Beresford Greene Speaks (Seventeenth Fit..)

From The City Folk Club

I am following up on the contributions to Ken's discourse on Folk Music and seek now to expand the discussion into an adjacent area. That is namely that of copyright, intellectual property, and maybe patent rights. Now I am not strong on the details of these issues even though I do have some powerful and mutually conflicting views on the subject.

This is my understanding of the current position: - Performers in the UK receive royalties from record sales and radio airplay for 50 years after a song is released. The person who composed that song, however, is entitled to the exclusive rights to their music and appropriate royalty payments for their entire life and a further 70 years after their death, a total of perhaps 120 years.

Those performers whose careers lasted for only a few years in the 1950s, - and whose contracts specified that they would continue to receive royalties long afterwards - may have already or will soon, stop collecting any income from their hits. There are many musicians that are in a similar position, who rely on their copyright payments as a pension.

The British Phonographic Industry, which represents record companies, says it is unfair to have different rules for performers and composers. It is demanding parity with the US system, where material is protected for 95 years after it is published.

We musically interested souls will know something of the war now being raged about the internet by the big musical industries such as EMI, Sony, and RCA. They object to the loss of royalties arising from free down-loads and so called "file-sharing." They seek to prevent it. They have not been very successful so far. Indeed they have even offered a reward to anyone that can come up with any method that would totally resist any copying. It ain't easy or I would have done it!

The Treasury has appointed Andrew Gowers, the former editor of the Financial Times newspaper, to conduct a review of copyright and intellectual property policies in Britain .

{Nice work if you can get it!}.

There is no doubt that the large & powerful music institutions have done much to promote sometimes little known artistes for several generations. Big stars have emerged that we may otherwise have never got to see & hear. However there is a nasty downside. Much of the performing industry has been riddled with a drugs culture, whilst mediocrity has been used to metamorphose them into famously rich celebrities. Indeed we now have a culture of celebrity wherein the vehicle, (music in this case), plays second place to the stardom. "Look at me - look at me" is really a sign of a weak psyche isn't it?

After working as an engineer for a lifetime I feel driven to ask if George Martin, and others of his ilk, receives any royalties for his part in The Beatles success. It is very unlikely on at least two counts. Firstly he would have probably signed a waiver in the favour of his company (EMI) of any ideas, inventions etc. that he was party to. Secondly, his name doesn't appear on the song writing credits. Yet we now know that he made plenty of input. Indeed that has been recognised with a knighthood and unofficial title of "Fifth Beatle." Secondly, many ideas such as "Phasing" & "Chorusing" - "Slap back" & multiple echo effects are claimed by nearly every studio that ever used them. Then there was the "Aural Exciter." {Don't ask!}.

Ought it to be any wonder then, that Norman Petty, Buddy Holly's recording engineer who supplied all the studio equipment, accommodation, expertise, and even marketing know-how, insisted on having his name as a joint composer of many Buddy songs?

Is it right that anyone can claim a royalty for a new layout of the same old things? How would it be if every designer could do that? Let me give you an example: - Kris Kristofferson came up with some pretty original lines of prose in his lyrics: - "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." - "Nothing ain't worth nothing, but it's free." Do you spy any unusual or new words in there? Is it so that you know anyone that would expect to pay for nothing? And having nothing left to lose might set you free of having to care but, how long will you last out with nothing? Is it right that we have to go on paying Kris for this and for the fairly ordinary tune that goes along with it for so very long? {Even longer in America }. Yes and this example came from one of the better popular writers.

Just think what might happen if we were to start applying the same principles to recipes! Here's one of mine: - "Sausage & lemon pie on a bed of choux pastry" Or I could do a Bob Dylan and claim "Steak & kidney pie with worms" or "Cornflakes and onion drizzled with raw egg" as my own! Can't you see why I get so upset with life? There's so little true creativity required. "Weetabix & ginger rolls." "Figs with sawdust"

Let us move on to football. I am the inventor of the "sidestep", the "feint" and the "dummy." I would have had the "backheel" but I sold it for a fixed sum. I get paid every time these moves are used. I am working on a claim that will give me intellectual property rights over the expression "I mean" and "do you know what I mean?" I love "that's what it's all about" too and spend a fortune in royalties by saying it as often as I can. How unfortunate that it isn't mine. "Get the ball in the back of the net" is nice too. Some fans try to link these phrases together but that isn't wise if you suffer from lip-stall or tongue buffet.

If you examine these arguments and many similar avenues, it will very difficult to avoid the issue of class. One might better say quality. Yes I am sticking my neck out here but I'm anxious to learn! Let's grab the jugular and ask the question. Does singing or playing badly have any quality? What about singing down one's nose in what I understand is a Folk tradition. Does it have any class? Should loud raucous Rock & Blues music occupy a high place? When The Rolling Stones sold Black American Rhythm & Blues back to White America, ought they to get any Royalties at all, let alone for so long? Most of us do a job and get paid for it. Or we may sell an idea for what we can get to someone who thinks they can make a profit from it. I think I'll re-design the brick!

There are many other similar questions to ask. Do altered tunings, drone notes, unsyncopated rhythms, and rudimentary Elizabethan harmonies have any quality? After generations of "refinement" it might be interesting to look back at the route we have travelled, but should we be struggling to keep it "alive" - as though its loss would be an affront to human endeavour?

Wealthy Cliff Richard thinks the period of Royalties should be extended. This from a man with an undeniable God given gift for singing who, as far as I know, never ever wrote a note or a line!! When a company with its contracted artistes makes a "record," - that's what it is, - "A RECORD." Job done! There should be no question of ongoing "Royalties." I say "Get a proper job!"

Are we to allow ourselves to be coerced into a corruption of the truth when we sign up to the wailings of the unsophisticated (** yeah it might be the wrong word - back in a minute), as though it had real merit? "I woke up this morning and found I was in bed. I woke up this morning and found I was in bed. I woke up this morning ….. to find I wasn't dead. That's fine that's mine, pass the wine…."

To return to my theme, if the musical industries are unable to control the internet situation, will music be returned to the Folk from whence, in very large measure, it came? Will there be a loss or a gain? Will it be balanced?

The only exception that I can see to my arguments would come if I wrote any kind of successful song or made any kind of record that sold well! Then I would see it so very differently. Since that ain't likely to happen --- I will retain my view of it.

Come along now I am trying to be provocative! That's because someone somewhere took a swipe at the misspelling of that very word - yet I can't find the origin of that. Where's the text? As one of the only three readers of these columns I've just got to know! Hurry now - once the medication kicks in I won't care anymore.

** A better word is "ignorant"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Being the Seventh of August 2009...

David: The Drowned Lovers
Paul: Girl From the North Country
Berry: Hey, Hey.
Mave: Let No Man Steal Your Tyme
Ken: Layabouts Lament
Antony: Sibella
Brenda/Berry: All of Me
Mick: 12 String Tune
Mike: The Mermaid
Lynda: Amazing Grace
Anne: The Sin of Mary Prout
Ray: Empty Echos
John: Eurydice
Barry: Lizzie Loved a Highwayman
Jenny: Sally Gardens
Bill 1:1: I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
Colin: William Stone
David: See Me Run
Paul: Moon Shadow
Berry: Over the Waves
Mave: The Callico Printer's Clerk
Ken: Down in the Basement
Antony: At the Dark End of the Street
Brenda/Berry: Summertime
Mick: A Slightly Longer Tune Than The First One
Mike: Fire and Rain
Lynda: When Morning Breaks
Anne: Catch Me If You Can
Ray: Dorset is Beautiful
John: I Don't Know Any Love Songs
Barry: Driving In The Middle Lane
Jenny/Bill 1:1: Keys To My Heart
Bill 1:1: Poor Old Horse
Colin: Row On

Monday, August 3, 2009

And Ken reponds ...

"Colin's lengthy discourse, and Berry's, have both almost completely missed the point, although Colin ended up supporting me, I think.

For the purposes of debate, I defined folk music as: 'music made by people for their own amusement'. That music will live on, acquiring, retaining, shedding various influences, wholly or partly, is not in dispute. What is in dispute is whether 'folk music' - as per my definition - will survive.

Will someone actually dispute the tenet which is the subject of the debate i.e "Folk music* has no future"?
*as defined in my proposition (otherwise we could be here until the cows come home).

Perhaps I should have written 'Folk CLUBS have no future', instead."

Dogsbody has his say ...

Pursuant upon my earlier comment, Ken has generously invited me to make a properly-argued response regarding the future of folk music.

I wonder - when, in Victorian times, the fictional Joseph Poorgrass sang in the local hostelry, or Bathsheba Everdene charmed her harvest-supper guests with ‘Bushes and Briars’ accompanied by Gabriel Oak’s flute, did they call it ‘folk music'?

Did they even know the term?
Does it matter?
The ideas of ‘folk’ and ‘tradition’ have been much debated by our elders and betters for over a century and even I have been permitted a humble contribution in an earlier posting. That, of course, is irrelevant to Ken’s proposition, but we do need to know where we are coming from.

Let me begin with the comment I made as a knee-jerk reaction to Ken’s outrageous motion: I wrote, "Folk music will continue to live so long as people like you/me/we contrive to get together, in a non-commercial scenario, on a regular basis and share music and songs that appeal to us." I here describe The City Folk Club as well as a significant number of similar congregations.

I recall that such clubs became popular and thrived in the nineteen-sixties, if not earlier. Every town and village had a folk club. Whether the musical material was ‘folk’ or ‘traditional’ was of only academic importance. It was the scenario that defined the music. These gatherings were, of course, contemporary contrivances and probably bore little similarity to the rustic gatherings of earlier times. Despite that, music and songs were performed, heard and shared. A style that we recognise as ‘folk’ germinated in the communal consciousness, even if you’d written the song only yesterday.

I acknowledge with regret Ken’s final point wherein he states the obvious – we’re all getting older and I guess the average age of CFC’s participants is in excess of 50. Youngsters are rare visitors. Even the young 'up-and-comings' who are gaining national popular acclaim are in it for commercial reasons and distribute their material of questionable copyright through recordings and large concerts. Informal gatherings have been put at risk by regulations surrounding public performance. If the laws were to be strictly applied, maybe the folk club would die.

On the other hand, does that mean the terminal demise of folk music? The melodies and lyrics have been recorded and transcribed. Certainly, in modern times, the notion of oral transmission is an anachronism. People like RVW and Gustav Holst have brought traditional melodies into the classical canon. The first time I heard the delightful tune ‘Lovely Joan’ was in a recording of RVW’s ‘Fantasia on a theme of Greensleeves’, years before Martin Carthy gave it an 'authentic' setting. To argue that any form of music is dying is to deny the creativity of the human spirit, and ignores the fact that music (and indeed any art-form) has the ability to outlive its creator for many generations. After all, is Beethoven really dead? Is John Lennon?

Let’s take the example of a traditional, probably Irish melody, ‘Dives and Lazarus'. As far as I know, this is anonymous and very old. In addition to the song that Roger G. so ably performs, this tune occurs in various guises regularly throughout the folk canon in songs such as ‘The Maid of County Down’, ‘Moorlough Shore’, ‘The Foggy Dew’ (F. P. O'Neil) and even ‘John Barleycorn' to name but a few. This melody has a life of its own and is the main theme for RVW’s 'Variations of …', in addition to which, he used it as a hymn tune. Here we see/hear Berry’s ‘enduring popularity’.

So, here is my argument. Folk Clubs may well outlive their usefulness and, as Ken suggests, become unsustainable. The same cannot be said of folk music. The past century and more has seen folk song revivals in various forms, albeit sometimes unapologetically commercially-based. I have faith that such cyclical re-examination of our musical heritage will continue. Future generations may receive it in scenarios as yet unbeknown to us. Perhaps the very idea of ‘folk’ will be redefined, but so what?

The music lives!

God Save the Queen!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Being the Thirtyfirst of July 2009...

This evening has been officially declared 'Vintage' and will live in the memories of participants when all else has faded...
(but it's probably a good job I wrote everything down just in case...)

Freight Train: David
Down Where The Drunkards Roll: Lynda
Another Train: Andy
Famous Blue Raincoat: Jane
Star of the County Down: Anne/Alan
Just a Simple Love Song: Yvonne/Mike
Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da: Gerry
Lovely Nancy: Diane/Steve
Where Are You Tonight: Anne
Empty Echos: Ray
Master Gunner Jack/Humpty Dumpty: Steve
Windsor Gallop: Lorna
Dancing at Whitsun: Anne/Alan
Poor Jenny: Ken
Jessica: Mick
In The Smoke: David
Outward Bound: Lynda
Waltzing's For Dreamers: Andy
Fare Thee Well Dearest Nancy: Jane/David
Fine Young Men: Anne/Alan
Till the Stars Fall From the Sky: Yvonne/Mike
Song For a Winter's Night: Gerry
Among the Green Hay: Diane/Steve
Claudy Banks: Anne
Cornish Lads: Ray
On The White Horse/Laughing Samba: Lorna
3 Tunes: Anne/Alan
The Devil and the Ploughman's Wife: Steve
Hard Cheese of Old England: Ken
In The Mood: Mick
Galway Shawl: Andy
Yesterday's Men: Anne/Alan
Digging Dusty Diamonds: Diane/Steve
Rolling Home: Ray

Beresford Greene Speaks (Sixteenth Fit...)

I feel that a more extensive reply is in order. However I must not debate as I am not of that ilk and have no experience of all that is implied in such.
Folk Music is like any other fashion, that is at the will of the many if not the majority. One thing that it is difficult to argue with, (though no doubt Ken will find a way), is "POPULARITY." More exactly: ENDURING POPULARITY.
I like to think that when the other issues such as fashion & nostalgia have subsided, a worthy piece of art endures for the best of reasons. A "popular" song may be in favour for a very short while or become an "evergreen" that sees it maintained as a work of worth perhaps for ever & a day.
Folk Music is surely no different from any other art form in this respect. Of course there are those who simply like "the style" of something. That gravel voiced singing down the nose may be pure bliss to some. What we need to ask here is whether such is appealing to the many. The answer to that comes with that "enduring popularity" that I mentioned.
Of course publicity has an effect. If we try to keep certain items from falling out of mind, we may hope that they will endure the more. The one thing that cannot be done is to change for very long the conception of appreciation that lies within we homo sapiens. The truth will out.... one would hope!
There are some songs that have an almost indescribable X-factor that gives them legs that may last forever. Rather than give an example one that has it - I would rather give an example of one that most certainly does not! And I quote our National Anthem. Yet I suppose that it is "popular" -eh? Yet I would say that the hymn "Jerusalem" has it in spades - especially if you also happen to be British.
Now you would want to move me on to consider words & music as separate issues, but I will not be driven there. At its best there will be a marriage of both that seems to have been made if not in heaven, then not of this world.
We have in our club, those who can deliver a song in such a way that it takes the very breath from ones body. We also have one or two that... well can't. And that my dears is where I come in!
So have I spoken about motions for long enough? Have I been instrumental in tuning you in?
Do try to keep regular and turn up and out every Friday evening.