Recently site member and fine banjo player of many styles, John Field from the UK, died and one his wishes was that his collection of BMGs should be made available to all who want to read the world famous magazine for the Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar player.

 

John’s collection is not complete but stretches from 1925 to when the BMG publishing company went into liquidation in 1976.

 

All the monthly copies that he had have been scanned and are now available for download. There are gaps but if you are able to help fill them with scanned copies of BMGs that you are willing to share, please contact me.

 

Click on the menu at the top of the page and then on a magazine front cover to download as a PDF file, you can now read articles from the great players of the time featuring news, tips, comments and suggestions. Also there are music scores available in each magazine for all styles of banjo playing (and Mandolin and Guitar!).

They are a fun and really interesting look back in time...ENJOY !

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Joel, folk music is not a concept. It is a reality. Every culture creates its own music that is as much a part of the culture as language, food, and way of life.  If I am born in France and I speak French am I being "nostalgic"?   I don't think so.

“Folk music is weird. Folk music is hard.....If you listen to folk music from around the world, you are listening to a distillation over thousands of years involving large numbers of people, who, from nothing have arrived at some quite astonishing conclusions..... Folk music is not blind, it’s not noble savage stuff, it’s actually people thinking deeply and emotionally, and being able to articulate what they feel in music and dance.”  Martin Carthy MBE


Joel Hooks said:

The whole concept of "folk music" is based in nostalgia. 

Ah!  So the way you are defining folk music I would just call "music."  Adding the word "folk" makes it a retrospective-- after the fact or in some way historical but not necessary current except in a retrospective way.

During the "folk revival" people sought "old timers" or "tradition bearers" to learn from.  If it was a "living tradition," those "tradition bearers" would have already passed the tradition on to the younger generation and the revivalists would have been able to find young people playing the same music.  What does not add up is that the tradition stopped with people born around 1900 and then it skipped a generation or two only to be rediscovered by college students with longneck banjos wearing white socks and loafers. 

"Music of the people" is just music played by musicians. To me, the necessity of the term "folk music" comes before "this was written way back when" or "this is how they used to play in the olden timey days."

RE "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"  I offer the following...

Starting with Pete Seeger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT_zZB4ZQRA&t=85s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy2HsUj12J8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlgYtrOOyO8  John Bullard, no surprise he plays it complete.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y28yT3198bk Trishka!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i7jzgES9mM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcOmsyrrORI

Those are just a few, it goes on and on.  It is the default "see the banjo is not just hillbilly music" piece. 

Joel, you are the best guy ever for arguing with. Always on topic, always respectful, and well-informed.

OK, so... paragraph by paragraph

In some communities around the world when people get together for a dance or a music session in their minds it is simply music and dance, as you say. But others are aware of continuity, especially lately with internet everywhere. 

The folk music idea seems to have originated in Germany with romantic nationalists.  But the reality existed long before that. What is missing from your view is another reality, one that is rarely discussed in the USA and that is social class. To the rest of the world one's class is a (nearly) inescapable reality.  "Folk music" was intended as a label for the music of lower classes in both town and country.  As such "folk music" is a simplification of another reality:  music always transcends class.  The popular idea of folk musicians being musically illiterate does not hold up at all, especially not in Scotland. Also not holding up is the idea that oral/aural tradition does not exist in musical cultures that use musical notation. 

On your second paragraph: folk music (by any name) exists all over the world. The part of the world that plays the five string banjo is a small portion of all the world's music.  But let's talk about that small world:  in the UK folk revival there was indeed a search for tradition bearers.  Not in the USA, except for a handful of individuals, as many as 4 or even 5.   After all it is was a phase of pop music.  *AFTER* that came another movement. The search for authentic practitioners was done by many but they did not think of the music they were interested in as "folk".  They thought of it as "traditional" or "old time".  The older people they sought out called it old-time music, Old Love Songs, and a few other things.  There indeed were younger singers and players who learned from their elders and there still are. Those who came seeking did not not always notice them for a number of reasons. I don't have time to go into these reasons right now. One thing I can say is that the music did not skip a generation. Rather, what happened is what happens all over the world in every culture. And that is that Extreme Musical Excellence and Certain Musical Priorities  tend to skip a generation.

I don't understand your third paragraph. What do you mean by "comes before" please?



Joel Hooks said:

Ah!  So the way you are defining folk music I would just call "music."  Adding the word "folk" makes it a retrospective-- after the fact or in some way historical but not necessary current except in a retrospective way.

During the "folk revival" people sought "old timers" or "tradition bearers" to learn from.  If it was a "living tradition," those "tradition bearers" would have already passed the tradition on to the younger generation and the revivalists would have been able to find young people playing the same music.  What does not add up is that the tradition stopped with people born around 1900 and then it skipped a generation or two only to be rediscovered by college students with longneck banjos wearing white socks and loafers. 

"Music of the people" is just music played by musicians. To me, the necessity of the term "folk music" comes before "this was written way back when" or "this is how they used to play in the olden timey days."

RE "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"  I offer the following...

Starting with Pete Seeger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT_zZB4ZQRA&t=85s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy2HsUj12J8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlgYtrOOyO8  John Bullard, no surprise he plays it complete.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y28yT3198bk Trishka!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i7jzgES9mM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcOmsyrrORI

Those are just a few, it goes on and on.  It is the default "see the banjo is not just hillbilly music" piece. 

I found a few minutes to at least minimally address the remaining part of your reply.

Re Jesu JOMD:  I did not know about this. My guess is that the impulse comes from open G tuning. The opening strains can be found on the open strings. 

re The Oldest Way: there will always some people who miss the point of old music. The value doesn't come from age. The value comes from beauty.  Entropy abounds in old-time music. Many—perhaps most—  people who are playing a version of old-time music nowadays play shards and cartoons of the repertoire. . The tunes have been dumbed down. The value of seeking source versions is to discover musical worth. The value of learning music from a human being who was born a long time ago is huge. I have no time to today to list the many benefits. 

Joel Hooks said:

"Music of the people" is just music played by musicians. To me, the necessity of the term "folk music" comes before "this was written way back when" or "this is how they used to play in the olden timey days."

RE "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"  I offer the following...

Starting with Pete Seeger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT_zZB4ZQRA&t=85s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy2HsUj12J8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlgYtrOOyO8  John Bullard, no surprise he plays it complete.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y28yT3198bk Trishka!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i7jzgES9mM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcOmsyrrORI

Those are just a few, it goes on and on.  It is the default "see the banjo is not just hillbilly music" piece. 

Hi - I have been looking through my collection of old BMGs and can offer the following, which were missing from John Field's collection:

1934 - April and December

1935 - December

1936 - July

1948 - October

1949 - November

1951 - March and September

1961 - February

1963 - February

1973 - August, September and October

It will take me a while to scan them all, but I will do so as soon as possible.  If you could let me know how to upload them to the library, that would be great.

Regards


David

Email sent.

Thanks David

I would like to thank the many people for offers to supply scans of BMG magazines, or loan even the magazines for scanning, to fill gaps in the John Field BMG Library.

Thanks for this bunch dating from 1934 to 1973 to David Cotton.  Almost another year's worth of magazines are now added.

I find the 1973 September and October additions quite interesting as I was not aware that for a few months the BMG was swallowed up by the "Guitarist" magazine!... but not for long though ;-)

Don't forget that the modern day BMG magazines are still produced and available by subscription from the Clifford Essex Music Company.  SUBSCRIBE HERE

COOL!

Hey Ian, could you list the added issues so that I can grab them?  I put them on my Kindle for reading.

For the rest of us-- We should try and get the complete run of magazines from the beginning.  I for one would read every issue.

Sure Joel,

December 1934, December 1935, July 1936, October 1948, November 1949, March 1951, February 1961, February 1963, September 1973, October 1973.

I have promises of others but it may be a while before I can receive them.  I will list all new additions in the future..makes sense!

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