(Originally posted here, November 27, 2012)
I’m reading parts of a Ph.D dissertation about the Folk Music Department in the Sibelius Academy and I stumble on this quote: “The most fundamental ideological point of departure for creating contemporary folk music is that folk music should be a living tradition.” (It’s on p. 190 in the linked document, for anyone interested…)
I wonder: Is not the being alive part something which is of essence for a tradition? Can it be a tradition if it’s not alive (and thus moving, changing, developing etc.). If it’s dead, is it not then just an artifact, an object to admire (or dislike) but not something you can use? I wonder only because it seems like it’s often required within folk music to state that what we do is part of a living tradition. There are no dead traditions. There are only dead objects.
If it’s tradition it’s alive and kicking. If it’s alive and kicking it’s probably part of a tradition (i.e. part of a chain of thoughts, ideas and actions that humanity is resting on). If it’s dead, we would best bury it. It probably stinks.