Stopping the tradition from remaining current and relevant?

(November 05, 2010)

Does a touch of conservatism exist in English folk to prevent the genre from moving on? And if it exists, does it actively stop the tradition from remaining current and relevant?

There are many performers that try to push the boundaries and cross the divide between ‘museum-piece’ tradition and contemporary popular folk. That doesn’t include those that drive into experimental folk of all types. Rather it means those that take the look and feel that folk knows so well but moves it into the world of ‘today’ rather than ‘yesterday’. These people are in a way, the vanguard of a new age of living traditional music. That is not only a ‘good thing’ it is a cornerstone of folk music developing into yet another and another generation.

The tendency to equate 'traditional' with sacred and immutable

The old folk view, despite active denials to the contrary, still exhibits a tendency to equate 'traditional' with sacred and immutable. At best, such approaches can consign any art form, music included, to the developmental freezer – held in cold storage but not moving on. At worst it can be the death of any living art form. The technique which looks at the tradition but then writes for today; including the myriad of influences that surge round today’s musicians, allows the art form to develop. Without artists prepared to take the tradition and work with it (not destroy it) that development would not happen at all.

The drive now from many musicians (and it’s an excellent one) is to resurrect almost forgotten traditions. They take the tradition blend in a new feel and look (a rock rhythm, a new lyric) and on the way, create tomorrow's traditions.

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