A Conversation for The Wonderful World of Folk Music
~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum Posted Mar 5, 2005
Indeed they are now a complex and regimented form of high musical art with all the attendant socio-cultural elevations and institutions.
Several areas of the world have produced musical forms which which also 'evolved' (dare I say 'progressed'?) from simple roots into cultural hierchies of study and performance. European classical music traditions and Japanese musical studies are two other examples of regional folk music elevated to more sophisticated forms. The Japanese koto players are traditionally blinded at birth.
However, this entry is an excellent overview and the doorway to more serious investigations.
I do hope future 'editions' of this entry will offer links to more of the branches of this family tree. In particular, if a good entry on the evolution of 'the Blues' should ever enter the guide, it ought to be referenced here as an example of how displaced 'folks' will integrate their music. The Celtic hillbillies and the African slaves of tidewater America melded their music and begat the most popular (world wide) music in the 20th century - Rythm and Blkues and Rock and Roll.
One singer/writer named Chuck Berry stands out as an early rock and roll musician, hated by many white musicians for being 'too black and rythmic' and by the black soul singers for being 'too white and narrative'. But his infectious tunes were loved by anyone else who heard his music - Roll Over Beethoven, Maybeline, Good Morning Little School Girl, Johhny B. Goode, Betty Jean, Bye Bye Johnny, Down the Road a Piece, The Thirteen Question Method, Thirty Days, No Money Down, Too Much Monkey Business, Brown Eyed Handsome Man, School Days, Rock & Roll Music, Sweet Little Sixteen, and Carol - to name but a few of his 71 greatest hits. John Lennon said of him: ""If you tried to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry,'"
The crossovers between Celtic jigs and ballads, English 'church' music with Afro rythms and Spanish (cowboy) guitars and harmonies is a fascinating tale that offers a lifetime of discovery. Hank Snow, a country music Hall of Fame singer and writer from Nova Scotia, embodied this integration even before Chuck Berry. It was he who first invited Elvis to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1954. With over 120 albums to his credit, including 43 Top Ten singles of which seven claimed the top Number One spot for a sum total of 56 weeks, Hank was still just plain folks to most people, from Nashville to Nova Scotia.
Only living boy in New Cross - The Good, The Bad and the Average Posted Mar 6, 2005
Hey I suppose we all make mistakes...
Fraggle Posted May 7, 2005
Thanks for the feedback. I see your point on ragas, they are indeed a very complex musical system, with strict rules and conventions. They are, I suppose, the musical equivalent of a Japanese Haiku (whoa! culturally mixed metaphors agogo!). However, are there not the same conventions that govern what is a morris tune and what is not a sea shanty? I've been playing folk music in various forms for a few years now, I I often tend to get shouted at during sessions because they don't play "that" kind of folk there.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that there are conventions in all forms of music. That is what separates them.
As for Chuck Berry, I was under the impression that he got his sound as a result of his cousin Marvin Berry calling him on the phone so he could hear some strange kid called Marty McFly playing some weird song called Jonny B. Goode at the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance at Hill Valley High School in 1955. McFly disappeared completely shortly afterwards. An eccentric scientist called Emmett "Doc" Brown was implicated in his disappearance, but nothing was ever proved...
David Parker Posted Oct 2, 2007
Neil Diamond also released an album in the 70's entitled "Tap Root Manuscript" which utilised the old Afro Rhythms transfered to America by the slave trade and which became the blues and gospel. This is a much underated album which deserves greater recognition.
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