Issue 25 5/2003

Letters to FolkWorld's editors

After 24 issues, FolkWorld seemed to be in need to start a "Letters to the Editors" page, as recent e-mails seem to be just waiting to be published. Who knows, maybe this becomes a regular feature now!?

This issues' letters' themes:

Re: Article about "Spanish Traditional and folk music in perspective" in issue 24

I would like to reply the article of Pio Fernandez "Spanish traditional and folk music in perspective The image and the reality", that appear in your webb page

First of all it has an enormour mistake: flamenco is not the traditional music of Andalucia. The flamenco music was born in the XIX century as a mixture of several musical influences. Maybe the most original was the one of the gipsies, because it was the mixture of gipsie and non-gipsie musicians that created flamenco. The gipsie incluence brought all that oriental flavour, and "hot-blooded" dancing and singing you talk about (similar to other gipsy musics in Europe). But the flamenco music has other incluences, one that comes from the traditional music from Andalucia, influenced by the arab music, but with its own personality (in fact andalusian music has influenced arab music in countries of northern Africa). And the flamenco singing is also strongly influenced by a kind of melismatic singing that was very common all over Spain, specially in regions that have no arab incluence at all, like north Castilla. It is that kind of singing that most people identifies with flamenco or with arab musics, the singing that has been the base of the Spanish tradition. That kind of singing can be seen in all spanish traditions, from the northern and "celtic" Asturias (where the end notes are extremely long) to Catalonia, Castilla and Andalucia.

The popular music and dances of Andalucia exists, independent from flamenco. They are closer to flamenco than the music from Galicia, because most flamenco (not all of it, Madrid is as important as Andalucia) has developped there, but this music cannot be considered flamenco at all, and it has clear connections with the music from southern Castilla.

The second big mistake of the article is considering that the Spanish music has a clear frontier between the south and the north. There are many cultural frontiers in spanish music, and the differences between the music from Galicia and Andalucia might seem big if they are compared that way. But the music from Galicia is very close (and different as well) to the music from Cantabira, and the music from Cantabria is very close to the musti from noth Castilla, wich, in fact, is close to the music of Aragon and sotuh Castilla, which is very similar to the music from Andalucia....All the spanish traditions have had mutual influences, and the frontiers are very fuzzy. Sometimes nationalism has tryed to assign a diferenciate tradition to every region, by taking away from a tradition all those instruments or rithms that were common to other regions, but that is not real. The music of every region has its own personality, but it also has clear connections with the musics of its geographycal neighboors.

And that way, the music from northern Spain has similarities with the music from France or Ireland too..... but many times those fuzzy connections are exagerated by groups that want to add themselves into the most attractive "folk fashion" of the moment.

Well, I hope this helps destrying the image of the topics about the spanish and the flamenco music

Margarita Mediavila, Spain

Lecker Sachen and Little Jump - FolkHipPop

Wile listening to National Public Radio tonight a lot of Jump, Little Children fans got a shock. What they heard was Lecker Sachen, what was so amazing was how much this band sounded like their beloved band, Jump, Little Children.

Jump, Little Children is a band out of Charleston, South Carolina, USA that has been playing Irish/folk/hip-hop/pop/rock for nearly 10 years. They are a group of 5 extremely talented yet struggling musicians who have a small but devoted fan base, primarily in the South Eastern United States. I personally have been following J,LC for the past 5 years, have attended over 80 live shows and actually worked for the band selling their merchandise at concerts for a year. The similarities between these 2 bands is simply AMAZING. From the small amount of Lecker Sachen music I have been able to find this evening, I can conclude that they are a bit more hip-hop than J,LC. Jump, Little Children have 2 singers. One, Jay Clifford, writes melodic folk/pop songs and the other, Matt Bivins, tends more toward the Irish/hip-hop with his "Speaking Singing" song styles and his instrumentation of tin whistles and accordion.

Anyway, I just thought you might like to know a little about this band and how similar they are to a band you had previously reviewed.

Robyn Saunders, USA

More about the Irish blind harper Dominic Mongan
Further to your comments regarding Dominic Mongan:

"Dominic Mongan from Co. Tyrone was a blind harper and toured with the judges and lawyers on the North-Western circuit. His son Charles (1754-1826) was appointed Lord Bishop of the Anglican dioceses of Limerick and Cloyne. I think that makes it rather unlikely to be dedicated to the Catholic cause."

A little background to my maternal ancestor may throw more light on the subject.

A contemporary of Dominic's, Arthur O'Neill wrote "I was well acquainted with Dominick Mongan, who was born blind in County Tyrone and was baptised a Roman Catholic... He had three sons, Mark, John and Terence, whom he educated in the first style...[Mark and John,(a physician and my ancestor) died prematurely]...

"Terence, the third and youngest son, is now bishop of Limerick...At the time, Terence was Dean of Ardagh in the county of Longford, a lady in a large company asked him if he was fond of the Harp, but the conceited dean started up and replied 'No, Madam, I detest it of all other kinds of music' and decamped.

"Now my reasons for mentioning the Roman Catholic religion is this, that the doctor and the bishop read their recantations, the doctor before the bishop after their father's death, who in his lifetime used to travel the West Coast circuit with his harp and when playing for one judge at one time, his Lordship asked Dominick why he declined to speak to his son (the doctor) since he turned Protestant.

"'My Lord', said Dominick, "I spared no expense on him when he was unable to provide for himself and assure Your Lordship I am no bigot, but I think it was his duty to consult me before he changed his religion."

The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper: memoirs of Arthur O'Neill, the last of the Itinerant Harpers, born 1734, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958.

In view of this exchange, despite the chronological inconsistancies, I agree that it is unlikely that An raibh tú ar an gCarraig? contains coded references to the Catholic liturgy because he did not have strong views either way, Catholic or Protestant, he simply wished to be consulted about his son's change of attitude.

This material and more besides is contained in "A Family Portfolio" written, compiled and published by Elizabeth Rennick © 1996 Further light on the ambivalence of the Irish towards religion can be found in "The Story of Ireland" by William Magan, Element Press, 2000 in particular Chapter 23 "Religion" p182.

Andrew Downey, Australia

Re: European music and boycott of American culture

I have been listening to European music since the early 1960's (and not just the "Beatles") and now buy about 98% of my CD's from European musicians. The music for me is refreshing, whether it is traditional or newly written. I often try to interest friends in what I listen to and get blank stares or sometimes arrogant machosims that I would just as soon not repeat. My world would crumble without the life and joy that is brought to it by the likes of musicians like Dougie MacLean, the More Maids, Norland Wind (Kerstin Blodig, Ian Melrose & Thomas Loefke), Clannad, Capercaillie, etc. Exposure to this music has led to my listening to Scandinavian music and Sami singer Marie Perron. I have recently been totally overjoyed by the German/Irish folk movement as my ancestry is both Irish and German. I still have cousins living in Germany.

I, too, tire of America\'s cultural colonization of the world. I am soo tired of Britney Spears and Garth Brooks! While I support a boycott of American culture, I would also hope that one could accept the good and refuse the bad. In my own family, I am the only one left who has tried to hang on to my cultural past. Even I speak and write only a little German. It pangs me greatly to know how we are perceived by the rest of the world -- most Americans have no idea or are indifferent, but some even think that it is the way it should be. I guess we are getting what we deserve. It doesn't make me joyful but neither does our attitude or what we have done and are still doing to others. I have always hoped that music would change us, but for the most part it hasn't.

A few months ago I became aware of how Europeans knew "our" music but we didn't know theirs. I was writing to an Irish woman who knew songs that were popular here is America but I knew few of the musicians and songs she mentioned (and I listen to European music almost exclusivel!). It has been difficult to locate European musicians CD's in the U S. I have bought some directly from the artists themselves. For example, the MoreMaids sent me their three CD's and I know they took a financial loss because their bank charged a lot to convert dollars to Euros. They absorbed the loss, because I was their first US purchaser. But they shouldn't have to--they were just really very nice. I wish the music was more readily available in the US. And I wish I could get more people to listen to it -- it is very beautiful!

Thanks for allowing me to stand on my soapbox.

Steven M. Krause, Goshen, Indiana, USA

Re: Rambling Rovers CD Kritik, Ausgabe 24

Liebe Folkworld-Redaktion, die Rezension zur CD "Weather Report" von den Rambling Rovers kann (zumindest von unserer Seite) nicht unwidersprochen hingenommen werden. Wir erwarten keine Stellungnahme euererseits, hoffen aber, dass ihr euch zumindest diese Zeilen gründlich durchlesen werdet.

Ansprüche an Künstler gibt es viele, seitens des Publikums und seitens der Kritik. Mit diesen Ansprüchen müssen Musiker umgehen können, sie wollen ihre Kunst schließlich unter die Leute bringen. Aber auch vom Kritiker muss man gewisse Dinge verlangen dürfen: Er muss ein doppelseitiges Verantwortungsbewusstsein vor den Künstlern einerseits und vor seiner Leserschaft andererseits an den Tag legen. Er sollte auch umfassend belesen sein, im Bereich der Musik sollte er viel gehört haben. Des weiteren sind zu fordern: Spürsinn für das Neue, selbstkritischer Enthusiasmus, Offenheit für Konträres, eine tiefe und angemessene Erlebnisfähigkeit, Einfühlungsgabe in das Objekt, eine gesunde Geschmackslage und nicht zuletzt (wichtig!) eine adäquate Ausdrucksfähigkeit für die gewonnenen und zu verteidigenden Erkenntnisse, sprich: die Rezension. Dieser Katalog ist angelehnt an die Forderungen an einen Literaturkritiker und klingt vielleicht etwas geschwollen, trotzdem finde ich ihn sehr erhellend für jeden, der Lust verspürt, in rezensorischer Absicht zur Feder zu greifen...

Künstler, die eine Kritik nicht hinnehmen können, sind wohl nicht genügend von ihrer eigenen Kunst überzeugt. Vielleicht sind sie auch einfach nur leicht beleidigt und zu eitel, um sich angemessener Kritik zu stellen. Von Angemessenheit kann in der Besprechung der CD Weather Report der Rambling Rovers von Michael Moll allerdings keine Rede sein. Da sie zudem schlicht und ergreifend sachliche Fehler enthält, können wir auf eine Stellungnahme nicht verzichten. Michael Moll schreibt, der Gesang sei "alles in allem relativ unmelodisch". Wenn Herrn Moll die Stimme von Andreas Sittmann nicht gefällt (die Stimmlage, die Tonfärbung, die Art der Interpretation von Melodien und Texten), dann ist das sein gutes Recht als Kritiker. Seine heilige Pflicht (als Kritiker) ist es aber auch, dies entsprechend zum Ausdruck zu bringen und sich nicht in eine schwer zu definierende Floskel ("relativ unmelodisch") zu flüchten. Was meint Michael Moll damit nur? Der Leser kann sich hier nur auf das Terrain der Spekulationen begeben, aber was bleibt ihm denn anderes übrig? Wahrscheinlich findet der Rezensent an der Art und Weise, in der die Rambling Rovers überlieferte Songs neu interpretieren (etwa bei Sally Gardens oder The Spanish Lady) keinen Gefallen. Unmelodisch ist das aber mit Sicherheit nicht. So weit so gut. Es sei hier nur am Rande erwähnt, dass die eigene Interpretation des Vortragenden aus der Folklore nicht weg zu denken ist, dass sie ein bereicherndes, ja ein konstitutives Element darstellt. Beim Leser allerdings muss nach Molls Ausführungen der Eindruck entstehen, Andreas Sittmann könne nicht singen, und das trifft nun wahrlich nicht zu. Weiterhin schreibt Michael Moll, der Sänger habe "in den englischen Liedern einen eindeutigen deutschen Dialekt [sic!]". Auch hier stellt Herr Moll (er meint bestimmt: einen Akzent) eine Behauptung in den Raum, für die er einen Nachweis schuldig bleiben muss. Hier ist kein Platz für eine phonetisch fundierte Analyse der Songs auf Weather Report. Muttersprachler aus verschiedenen Regionen des anglophonen Sprachraums haben Andreas Sittmann die hohe Qualität seines Englisch bestätigt. Fest steht allerdings, dass in den Songs der Rambling Rovers nicht versucht wird, durch möglichst starkes Rollen aller "R" und Nuscheln den Eindruck eines authentischen muttersprachlichen Akzents hervorzurufen, wie das von vielen deutschen Interpreten keltischer Folklore leider getan wird. Es wäre sicherlich vermessen zu behaupten, der englische Gesang auf Weather Report sei absolut akzentfrei, aber Herrn Molls Einschätzung ("eindeutig deutsch") ist ganz einfach falsch. Wie intensiv sich Michael Moll mit der CD, die er rezensiert, auseinandergesetzt hat zeigt die Tatsache, dass er "eine Eigenkomposition im Trierer Dialekt" (Dialekte - sein Lieblingsthema?) ausgemacht haben will. Eine solche gibt es aber auf der CD nicht. Ob er einen der mittelhochdeutschen Texte meint? Wieder können wir nur spekulieren. Erhellend ist diese Einschätzung auch für Herrn Molls Kenntnisse auf dem Gebiet der Phonetik und Phonologie, wo er doch anderen ihre Defizite in eben diesem Bereich so gerne unter die Nase reibt. Darüber hinaus enthält die CD nicht nur eine Eigenkomposition. Es sind deren vier: Die "mittelalterlichen" Lieder sind nur von der Textgrundlage her mittelalterlich. Die Musik ist neu. Auch die ersten beiden Tunes des Sets Weather Report - des einzigen Stückes, das der Kritiker zumindest ansatzweise positiv erwähnt - sind Eigenkompositionen.

Wie gesagt, ein Künstler muss auch damit leben, wenn sein Werk von der Kritik negativ beurteilt wird. Aber es ist schon bitter, wenn man in der Art und Weise abgewatscht wird, wie Michael Moll es in seiner Rezension der Rambling Rovers - CD getan hat ("...eine CD wäre nun wirklich nicht nötig gewesen."). Seine durchweg negative Beurteilung der Scheibe basiert lediglich auf seinen wenig fundierten und zudem unsachlichen Bemerkungen zum Gesang. Keine Bemerkungen zur Produktion, zur Interpretation, zum eigenen Stil der Band und zu den Arrangements der Traditionals wie der Eigenkompositionen. Alles Punkte, in die die Musiker viel Zeit, Geld und vor allen Dingen Herzblut investiert haben. Da tröstet es wenig, wenn Herr Moll der Band instrumental einiges Potential bescheinigt. Alles in allem bestätigt sich mit dieser Randbemerkung nur der Eindruck einer lieblos heruntergeschriebenen Kritik ohne echtes Anliegen. Seiner Verantwortung und sicherlich auch seinem eigenen Anspruch als Kritiker wird Michael Moll mit dieser Rezension auf jeden Fall nicht gerecht. Musste diese Kritik wirklich sein? Diese Frage lässt sich nur entschieden verneinen. Wenn man zu einer Sache nichts zu sagen hat, dann sollte man besser schweigen...

Für die Rambling Rovers (und ein paar Fans) Thomas Kramer

To the content of FolkWorld No. 25

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 5/2003

All material published in FolkWorld is © The Author via FolkWorld. Storage for private use is allowed and welcome. Reviews and extracts of up to 200 words may be freely quoted and reproduced, if source and author are acknowledged. For any other reproduction please ask the Editors for permission. Although any external links from FolkWorld are chosen with greatest care, FolkWorld and its editors do not take any responsibility for the content of the linked external websites.


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