Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Covered In Folk: Classical Music
(Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, David Wilcox, Brooks Williams, etc.)



Most people think of modern folk music as inherently coupled with the singer-songwriter movement. And it is true that, once upon a time, those who would grow up to become the folk troubadors of their own tomorrows learned their songs the traditional way, at the knees of their elders, that they, too, might pass old songs on to a new generation, and tell their own stories in familiar forms.

But the primary instruments of folk music turn out to be more versatile than the folk tradition would suggest. And though many modern musicians surely came to folk the old-fashioned way, through listening and picking, plenty others have grown up in modern home environments and schools where formal lessons are a norm. Today's radio dial speaks in a variety of tongues and timbres. And a parent's treasured record collection allows for a broad base of source material far richer than that which can be learned from the old folkie or bluesman next door.

The result has been a world in which the potential for early imitation can come from almost anywhere, and does. And as the ways we listen, store, pass along and learn our music change, so does the method by which musicians gain their craft, and stretch it out. It is a world of crossover, in which classical cellist Yo Yo Ma sits in with James Taylor in concert, The Kronos Quartet plays the hell out of Robert Johnson's Crossroads, and bluegrass musicians like Bela Fleck cut entire albums of classical music. And, since all these remain the music of the folk, for the folk, and by the folk, when the sound comes together just right, it's still folk music if we want it to be.

On one level, then, like indiefolk, folk rock, and Celtic Punk, the inclusion of classical music in the folk musician's repertoire is just another example of the hyphenate hybridization of genre which is so common in the world of modern music. But on another level, I think there is reason to celebrate this phenomenon as something very special.

For one thing, the ability to interpret classical themes and motifs effectively is not something that all kinds of folk musicians are even capable of. Doing so calls upon a kind of technical adeptness that is anathema to the strum patterns so prevalent in folk musicians who have learned their trade from blues or rock.

On an even grander scale, making classical music "come out" as folk collapses an exceptional historical dichotomy which presents classical music as the exact opposite of folk music. To take a form which its composers and its audiences have long maintained is so complex, so rarified, that it can only be fully appreciated after years of careful listening and quiet appreciation, and put it in the hands of musicians and instruments which are, by definition, "jus' folk", is a revolutionary act on a scale far beyond that of any other folk hybrid form.

In other words: it takes both skill and guts to do this. And perhaps this is why, though the passage of melody and theme from the commonfolk to the highbrow has been a common theme in classical music for over a century, from Bartok to Copeland, it remains rare to hear serious application of classical music to the instrumentation of folk, at least in the hands of musicians who themselves identify as coming from the folk tradition.

Today's coversongs involve neither songwriting nor singing, for the most part. Instead, here's a surprisingly diverse set of genuine classical music played on acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, and other rude country noisemakers by a set of musicians from many folk traditions: contradance, "true" folk, flamenco, Klezmer, the bluegrass and appalachian camps. One hand, this is nothing more than another example of the same phenomenon that makes electronic folk a legitimate (albeit still very fuzzy) term in the hands of promoters and artists. On another level, this is more folk than anything else, a set of adept artists bravely trading on their popular cache to bring cake to the breadline. Relax, and enjoy.



As always here on Cover Lay Down, all song and artist links above go direct to label and artist websites, where you can and should purchase these and other incredible soundscapes. Because while buying your music instead of downloading it might be a classical model, supporting artists without the middlemen is most definitely folk.

19 comments:

Helen said...

That was a really interesting post! For sure not a theme I have seen before and I love it :)

boyhowdy said...

Honestly, I began drafting this posta month ago or more, and it felt like a risk when I was finally writing it, but sometimes, stuff like this just needs to come out.

Given that, I was especially happy to learn from download stats, Helen, and a few emails that this was well-recieved. Thanks to Helen, and to all others who come and stay to read along without commenting, for being willing to take risks with me.

More "typical" fare on Sunday, I promise.

Fongolia said...

Whoa, I was just catching up on 5 days of unread RSS feeds... nice post! I was going to post a bunch classical covers last week too then got sidetracked. Guess you beat me to the punch, but there's lots of classical covers to go 'round!

Joel @ Postmodern Sounds said...

Interesting post. As I see it, the tracks you posted break down into two clear groups (with one that doesn't fit either). The Béla Fleck and Thile/Marshall tracks are classical recordings by artists who happen to be known best as folk musicians. These don't seem different in any fundamental way from the works of, say, Andrés Segovia or Christopher Parkening to me. The rest of the songs are melodies/themes from classical works rearranged into folk or vernacular settings. Only the Ungar/Mason track doesn't fit into this. It is vernacular melodies arranged for concert orchestra and then brought back into the folk tradition. I found is hard sometimes to recall which parts of the arrangement were Copeland's and which were Ungar and Mason's.

Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa page and other update like as Beratnya Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa, Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa di perpanjang and Jangan Berhenti Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. Thank you So much.

Oes Tsetnoc | Lanjutkan Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

Anonymous said...

http://lumerkoz.edu So where it to find?, http://riderx.info/members/Buy-_2104_eftin.aspx wandering http://soundcloud.com/zovirax knop cumulatively http://rc8forum.com/members/Buy-Zofran.aspx objector dismissing http://www.ecometro.com/Community/members/Buy-Hydroxyzine.aspx housekeeper http://riderx.info/members/Buy-Doxycycline.aspx prescott coat

qishaya said...

one day i went shopping outside,and in an ed hardy store,I found some kinds of ed hardy i love most they are Your website is really good Thank you for the information ed hardy ed hardy ed hardy clothing ed hardy clothing ed hardy shoes ed hardy shoes don ed hardy don ed hardy ed hardy clothes ed hardy clothes ed hardy bags ed hardy bags ed hardy swimwear ed hardy swimwear ed hardy jeans ed hardy jeans ed hardy mens ed hardy mens Thank you for the information

Anonymous said...

hyper vre -
keyword spy pro -
kingdom of pets -
mafia war secrets -
malware bot -
master cleanse secrets -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
maximum paid surveys -
meet your sweet -
mobile tv pro -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
my dish biz -
one minute cure -
paid surveys online -
panic away -
pc tv 4 me -
pdf creator -
perfect optimizer -
pick the gender of your baby -
plr wholesaler -
private niche empire -
project quick cash -
public records pro -
pull your ex back -
quick article pro -
quit smoking today -
reality creation secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry fix -
registry winner -

Anonymous said...

reg sweep -
reg tool -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
richard mackenzie direct -
rich garbage man -
rocket chinese -
rocket french -
seize cars -
shop until you drop -
six figure yearly 2009 -
sleep tracks -
spyware nuker -
spyware stop -
sunshine 4u -
the bad breath report -
the cash1234 system -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the free car -
the lazy marketer -
tonsil stones remedies -
truth about abs -
truth about diets -
turbulence training -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
violin master pro -
warp speed fat loss -
wedding speech 4u -
xp repair pro -
yeast infection no more -
2ip hosting -
10 minute forex wealth builder -

Anonymous said...

30 minute back links -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
advanced defrag -
affiliate jackpot -
anti spyware -
art of approaching -
battery reconditioning -
blogging to the bank -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
carp evolution -
cb bonus domination -
combat the fat -
content website builder -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
cure angular cheilitis -
cure morning sickness -
dirty talking guide -
driver robot -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy launcher -
easy system cleaner -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error smart -
evidence eraser -
evidence smart -
fatburningfurnace -
fat loss 4 idiots -
fitness model program -

Anonymous said...

fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
forex trading machine -
forex trading made ez -
get your exgirlfriend back -
google snatch -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
grow taller 4 idiots -
guy gets girl -
hcg recipes -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
how to break 80 -
hyper vre -
instant domain cash -
i software tv -
jamo rama acoustic -
linden method -
lose the back pain -
magni work -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
negative calorie diet -
one minute cure -
one week marketing -
only 4 gamers -
paid surveys online -
panic away -
pc on point -
pc tv 4 me -

Anonymous said...

perfect optimizer -
phone number scan -
pick the gender of your bady -
power 4 home -
profit lance -
public records pro -
quantum mind power -
quit smoking today -
recipe secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry winner -
reg sweep -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
revolutioniz -
richard markenzie direct -
sale hoo -
simple php -
smtp 2 go -
spyware nuker -
surveys 4 checks -
tax liens made easy -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the handcrafters companion -
the retired millionaire -
the super mind evolution system -
truth about abs -
truth about diets -
turbulence training -

Anonymous said...

ultimate content creator -
video piggy -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
viral tweets -
warp speed fat loss -
webstigate -
win clear -
win spy -
worlds best compost -
xp repair pro -
yeast infection no more -
your approved -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
advanced defrag -
amazing resume creator -
anti spyware -
art of approaching -
av advance -
banish tonsil stones -
bookmarking demon -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
catch spouse cheating -
cb affiliate blueprints -
combat the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
cure angular cheilitis -
directory of ezines -
dirty talking guide -
dish tv for pc -

Anonymous said...

dog training online -
domain sales machine -
driver robot -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy tech videos -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error killer -
error smart -
evidence eraser -
evidence smart -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -
fatloss4idiots -
fat loss 4 idiots -
fitnessmodelprogram -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
flat to fab -
forex derivative -
gas 4 free -
get better grades -
golf swing guru -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
heartburn no more -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
hyper vre -
i software tv -
legit online jobs -

Anonymous said...

linden method -
london forex rush -
master word smith -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
max pro system -
meet your sweet -
membership gold rush -
minute sites -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
negative calorie diet -
one minute cure -
one week marketing -
pc on point -
pc tv 4 me -
perfect optimizer -
php link cloaker -
pick the gender of your baby -
profit lance -
public records pro -
quit smoking today -
recipe secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry winner -
reg sweep -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket piano -
rocket spanish -
satellite tv to pc -

Anonymous said...

smtp 2 go -
spam bully -
spyware nuker -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the stop snoring exercise program -
the super mind evolution system -
trading stock indices -
truth about abs -
turbulencetraining -
turbulence training -
twitter annihilation -
twitter rockstar -
twitter traffic machine -
ultimate content creator -
ultimate font download -
ultimate wow guide -
video piggy -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
web investigator -
win clear -
win spy -
yeast infection no more -




3d covers -
500 scrapbooking sketches -
acid alkaline diet -
acne free in 3 days -

Anonymous said...

advanced pc tweaker -
apple patch diet -
art of approaching -
auction inspector -
av advance -
build a nice store -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
catch spouse cheating -
chikara reiki do -
combat the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
copy that game -
cure gout now -
dl guard -
dog training online -
driver checker -
driver robot -
drop shipping wholesalers -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy backup wizard -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error fix -
error killer -
error smart -
evidence eraser -
evidence nuker -
ex girlfriend guru -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -

dfadf said...

Microsoft Office
Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Office 2010 key
Office 2010 download
Office 2010 Professional
Microsoft outlook
Outlook 2010
Windows 7
Microsoft outlook 2010

android developer said...

I really treasure this wonderful write up. I really appreciate the information you have provided in this article. Thanks a lot!