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Sep 24, 2021 - 8:46:44 AM
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305 posts since 8/11/2007

"Cultural strip-mining occurs when people from outside a culture distort its history and appropriate its music for commercial purposes without properly attributing that music to its source."

- George R. Gibson

READ FULL ARTICLE: https://symposeum.us/banjo-heritage/


 

Edited by - Clifton Hicks on 09/24/2021 19:32:53

Sep 24, 2021 - 11:39:41 AM
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m06

England

10373 posts since 10/5/2006
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It’s also one way that remote power disenfranchises and dispossesses local people and communities.

Occurs across the globe wherever those in a position to exploit see an opportunity to make money.

Sep 24, 2021 - 1:15:30 PM
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Alex Z

USA

4528 posts since 12/7/2006

   The complete sentence:

     "Cultural strip-mining occurs when people from outside a culture distort its history and appropriate its music for commercial purposes without properly attributing that music to its source."

These are Mr. Gibson's words in the interview, and the qualifier is important, and essential to the example that Mr. Gibson gives.

A though-provoking article.  Thanks for the link.

Sep 24, 2021 - 6:01:14 PM

117 posts since 2/16/2008

An interesting read indeed. I think the real trick is to record as much as possible.
I don't think the prevalence of any certain style takes away from the original, but let's face it, certain things just fade away because people like the other better.
Sad but true.
Would you say that the advent of the electric guitar harmed the acoustic music heritage in any way? The old heritage is still there, but more people listen to the new.

I was at a small bluegrass festival not long ago and I told my wife, "Look around, there is nobody here under 55 years of age." When all of these folks pass; how many will be left to carry on the tradition?

It is a sobering thought.

Sep 24, 2021 - 6:20:50 PM
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1839 posts since 4/10/2005

When one alters, edits, or changes a sentence in a purported quote or excerpt that is being represented as a quote or excerpt, it's the done thing in journalism, scholarship, and other purported factual writing to indicate that this has occurred.

For example, in this instance the original post might have signaled the alteration with ellipses. Another device is the one below which I have used in journalism, scholarship, and legal writing: The brackets around the period signal that the original sentence does not end there, but has been edited. Of course, unless it will take volumes, including the full original quote is always preferable.


"Cultural strip-mining occurs when people from outside a culture distort its history and appropriate its music for commercial purposes[.]"

Sep 24, 2021 - 7:32:09 PM

305 posts since 8/11/2007

quote:
Originally posted by ceemonster

When one alters, edits, or changes a sentence in a purported quote or excerpt that is being represented as a quote or excerpt, it's the done thing in journalism, scholarship, and other purported factual writing to indicate that this has occurred.

For example, in this instance the original post might have signaled the alteration with ellipses. Another device is the one below which I have used in journalism, scholarship, and legal writing: The brackets around the period signal that the original sentence does not end there, but has been edited. Of course, unless it will take volumes, including the full original quote is always preferable.


"Cultural strip-mining occurs when people from outside a culture distort its history and appropriate its music for commercial purposes[.]"


O for f***'s sake... 

Sep 24, 2021 - 10:35:54 PM
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KCJones

USA

1511 posts since 8/30/2012

Banjo has been (is?) undergoing a bit of a renaissance. One thing I've noticed is that a lot of younger folks don't have the same desire to emulate the past as banjo players typically have had for so long. Not speaking about respect or interest in the heritage and historical story. There's certainly a strong interest in the tradition.

What I mean is that they don't subscribe to the idea that you have to choose a style and play a certain way to be in a specific jam circle. They learn the basic techniques, but don't lock themselves into any one style in the same way that was done in the recent past. There doesn't seem to be a strong desire to learn the "right way" to play, or to learn the standard tunes with all the right notes so they can sit and play along in the regular old time jam around town. They want to do their own thing, but they're still very collaborative and inclusive.

There is some loss with this, of course. Generational entropy, where certain things aren't being passed on en masse. But at the same time, new things are being created. I think it's a net positive, as long as some people make an effort to preserve the past so we don't forget it completely, and so future banjoists have material to reference as they create their own unique styles. The historians of our tradition play a critical role and must to be supported. 

The few students I teach don't want to pick a style. They want to learn 3 finger, 2 finger, and clawhammer all at the same time. They want to know the fundamental techniques, but they don't compartmentalize those techniques or lock themselves into certain stylistic cliques. The dichotomy between old time and bluegrass isn't something they know at all. Most of them don't have any knowledge of contemporary banjo culture going into it, so there's no preconceived notions about what they're supposed to do or trying to fit in.


It's counterintuitive, but in a way, not fully knowing the past enables these young players to truly embrace the tradition of vernacular music. The tradition of gathering all the influences in your life and creating your own individual style. I think it's a good thing. More styles, less standardization. Let the banjo player sing. I think the future is bright for highly varied and unique banjo styles.

Edited by - KCJones on 09/24/2021 22:44:38

Sep 25, 2021 - 4:51:17 AM
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DC5

USA

20512 posts since 6/30/2015
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quote:
Originally posted by 2749guitars

An interesting read indeed. I think the real trick is to record as much as possible.
I don't think the prevalence of any certain style takes away from the original, but let's face it, certain things just fade away because people like the other better.
Sad but true.
Would you say that the advent of the electric guitar harmed the acoustic music heritage in any way? The old heritage is still there, but more people listen to the new.

I was at a small bluegrass festival not long ago and I told my wife, "Look around, there is nobody here under 55 years of age." When all of these folks pass; how many will be left to carry on the tradition?

It is a sobering thought.


I've made a similar observation when I go to the Laconia motorcycle classic.  I've been going there more on than off since the early 1970s, and every year the majority of people there are my age.  The crowds are much smaller now than they were even 15 years ago.  This too will pass.

Sep 25, 2021 - 5:24:46 AM

305 posts since 8/11/2007

In "old-time" music, southern artists are purposefully excluded by a nepotistic elite who are alienated from southern culture.

One painfully obvious example is that any Anglo southerner who declines to play the "white coon" for the old-time gate keepers quickly finds themselves blacklisted from the business.

Sep 25, 2021 - 5:46:40 AM
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58288 posts since 12/14/2005

The people who made the movie "DELIVERANCE" had a goofy-looking kid just sitting there, while somebody who KNEW HOW to play banjo hid behind him, with his or her arms down the kid's sleeves, and played CLAWHAMMER style, while the sound track gave the audience SCRUGGS style.

But, as for playing the "white coon" or being shut out of the business, Jens Kruger does a medley of several movie themes, when somebody asks
"Can you do that song from the movie?"
they do this:


 

Sep 25, 2021 - 6:46:57 AM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

417 posts since 5/11/2021

I wouldn't worry too much about what cultural cliques do. Small tent clubs will adjust or fade away.

What you're doing is good. Preserve the history. Bright lights provide passage to lost ships.

Sugar draws more flies than vinegar.

[Cultural] marxism destroys the individual and demands conformity with the collective. 

The term hillbilly blackface comes to mind.

Is this a new phenomenon?
Hee Haw always rubbed me the wrong way.

Edited by - YellowSkyBlueSun on 09/25/2021 07:01:34

Sep 25, 2021 - 11:30:48 PM

1839 posts since 4/10/2005

]]]One painfully obvious example is that any Anglo southerner who declines to play the "white coon" for the old-time gate keepers quickly finds themselves blacklisted from the business.[[[

By declining to play the "white coon," do you mean, refusing to schtick it up as a quote-unquote "primitive" white rustic? Or ???


RE the wonderful article by Mr. Gibson, of course, there are no completely "pure," sui generis musical styles. They're all made up of strains of other styles, previous or contemporaneous. But this becomes very sensitive depending on who is being borrowed from, and who is doing the borrowing. The weaponizing of the current hot-button phrase "cultural appropriation" as an accusation to be hurled, is hard to discuss without getting into areas that are kind of verboten here on BH. Not saying Mr. Gibson is hurling that accusation, but his very perceptive piece calls the whole issue to mind . . .

This is also calling to mind the fascinating piece of music writing, "Where Dead Voices Gather," by Nick Tosches,  a provocative and haunting meditation on the issues of cooning, blackface, minsterley on all sides of the line . . .

Edited by - ceemonster on 09/25/2021 23:37:44

Sep 26, 2021 - 11:31:03 AM
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2766 posts since 4/16/2003

Topics like this I never spend much time reading.Most of the rationale behind the arguments is ... pretty much... just crapola. Nuthin' more.

As a "borrower of old tunes" himself once said (Mr. Dylan):
"It's all music, more or less"...

Just keep on playin'...

Sep 26, 2021 - 11:55:10 AM

Alex Z

USA

4528 posts since 12/7/2006

Bob Dylan?  BOB DYLAN?    A long rap sheet of plagiarism, including his speech accepting the Nobel Prize -- in Literature, of all things.

Here's how he explains "borrowing" -- using others' material without credit and passing it off as your own:

    “I’m working within my art form,” he said. “It’s that simple. I work within the rules and limitations of it. There are authoritarian figures that can explain that kind of art form better to you than I can. It’s called songwriting. It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it.”

          -- Rolling Stone, 2012.

Edited by - Alex Z on 09/26/2021 11:55:56

Sep 26, 2021 - 12:46:58 PM

312 posts since 4/10/2018

That’s an accusation regarding Dylan’s supposed borrowing from Sparknotes that is really hard to prove. As far as borrowing song lyrics and melodies it seems to me that that’s the nature of this music. Influences and borrowing and reworking to make things new, or your own. If you copy it exactly then that’s a different story. But it seems to me that Dylan has often paid tribute to his predecessors.

Sep 26, 2021 - 12:52:01 PM
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janolov

Sweden

41211 posts since 3/7/2006

When I started to listen to "Old-Time Music" around 1970, most of the music was from New York.

Sep 26, 2021 - 1:44:59 PM
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2646 posts since 4/5/2006

I would guess that Mr Gibson would not approve of either Arlo Guthrie or the Seldom Scene's rendition of Steve Goodman's City of New Orleans. Nor anyone who does "cover" material. Where would the likes of John Denver, John Hartford, Gordon Lightfoot, et al. be if no one covered their songs, for a profit? Are we to accuse the entire music industry of Cultural Strip Mining? 

Sep 26, 2021 - 2:13:12 PM
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1839 posts since 4/10/2005

]]When I started to listen to "Old-Time Music" around 1970, most of the music was from New York.[[

I've long mused what a cool dissertation, book, or documentary could be made of how how more than one great traditional music revival happened in that period. Ha, perhaps that's been done. But . . . It's so cool how some of the Ithaca/New York gang were instrumental in both the Oldtime and Klezmer revivals, Henry Sapoznik, etc. What an incredible time to be learning that music and getting to sit at the feet of the masters . . .

Sep 26, 2021 - 2:35:50 PM
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csrat

USA

868 posts since 9/14/2008

Art doesn't belong to anyone or any group.

Sep 26, 2021 - 2:58:15 PM
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Alex Z

USA

4528 posts since 12/7/2006

    "Cultural strip-mining occurs when people from outside a culture distort its history and appropriate its music for commercial purposes without properly attributing that music to its source."

From this statement by Mr. Gibson, if the performer properly attributes the source of the music, then should not be a problem.  If a "cover" is recognized (and the original composer gets the mechanical royalties), is Mr. Gibson objecting?  

Here is his example from the interview link:

    "A good example is a performance I heard on the stage at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, North Carolina. A well-known academic, who moved south during the countercultural revolution of the Vietnam era, performed a banjo song on stage, word for word, that was unique to an extraordinary Kentucky banjo songster, Rufus Crisp. He did not mention Rufus Crisp or the source from which he acquired this song. A few in the audience may have known where this song originated, but most would not. I let him know that I thought this was inappropriate."

Sep 26, 2021 - 3:53:39 PM
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312 posts since 4/10/2018

What difference does it make if said academic moved south during the Vietnamese era? Does every performer have to identify every song at every performance? Mr. Gibson may or may not be aware of the song’s history as well. It seems to me that this unnamed academic is moving the tradition forward in a positive manner with strip mining Kentucky culture. I was introduced to banjo music by Pete Seeger and the the Newport Folk Festival where I got to see all manner of old time music, bluegrass, blues etc., as well as the urban and young players. Still at it after all those years, including my own sojourn in the South. Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gibson doth protest too much.

Sep 26, 2021 - 4:01:23 PM
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banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

11589 posts since 2/22/2007

That's a good article, well worth reading.

Sep 26, 2021 - 4:20:05 PM

m06

England

10373 posts since 10/5/2006
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by csrat

Art doesn't belong to anyone or any group.


That's quite a contentious statement to assert so confidently. 

One example: there are knock off paintings borrowing aboriginal dot style in high end commercial galleries the world over. No doubt these versions make artists who have no direct connection to that culture a lot of money. Nothing says they can't do that. But that's quite a long way from asserting that the style doesn't in fact belong to the culture of origin. To belong does not imply control or copyright; it does point to the integrity of original source and purpose.

Sep 26, 2021 - 5:30:56 PM

2646 posts since 4/5/2006

The grin on Jens Kruger's face, while doing "the movie" tune, would put even Doug Dillard to shame. Priceless.

Sep 26, 2021 - 6:05:19 PM

305 posts since 8/11/2007

"Like northern minstrels, however, urban revivalists adopted an instrument foreign to their culture. As a result, they created a homogenized banjo culture disconnected from the instrument’s southern roots. Their style became the dominant style taught through books and magazines, and now the internet. While remnants of older southern banjo traditions linger in some mountain areas of the south, most people who learn banjo today do so in the culture created by the urban banjo revival."

- George R. Gibson

Read full article: Banjo Heritage: The Unlikely Survival of a Southern Folkway

Sep 26, 2021 - 7:28:51 PM
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40 posts since 8/20/2015

I paid good money to steal this banjo.

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