The copyright and intellectual property right of everything appearing in this magazine remains with the person who wrote it. Nothing may be reproduced without prior written permission of the author, and the citation of MT as the source. The views expressed in all articles, reviews, etc, are those of the author of each piece, not of the Editor.
Musical Traditions Internet Magazine is likely to be archived by the UK Web Archiving Consortium, consisting of the British Library, JISC, the National Archives, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales and the Wellcome Library. The Consortium is undertaking a two-year pilot project to explore the long-term feasibility of archiving selected websites. Authors are advised that, by contributing to this magazine they are agreeing to such archiving.
Musical Traditions was first published by Keith Summers in 1983 and was the longest lived, running to 12 editions before folding in late 1994. Its content was wonderfully varied, ranging from the Tommy Talker Bands of the West Riding in No 1, to Christmas Sports in St Kitts-Nevis in No 12, and touching on the more well known Seamus Ennis, Walter Pardon, Coppers, John McKenna, Johnny Doughty, Dennis McGee, Junior Crehan and Lucy Farr (to name a few) in between. The subjects of its articles spanned the world, taking in Africa, West Indies, Ireland, USA, Hawaii, The Ukraine, France, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Greece, Australia, Samarkand, Mexico and Armenia, as well as the UK. It's Record Review section was even more wide ranging.
In addition, it published two superb Supplements in association with Veteran Tapes and Topic Records - John Howson's Many a Good Horseman book/double cassette, and Reg Hall's I Never Played to Many Posh Dances book/double LP.
MT failed due to the financial burden of paying for a print run of 1000 copies, followed by the problem of trying to sell them all, mostly in Britain. It was also unfortunate that Keith was plagued by a series of domestic catastrophes which reduced the amount of spare time he had to devote to the undertaking.
Accordingly, it was decided to publish this virtual magazine, where such material could be presented quite simply, at very little cost. In homage to Keith Summers and all his work in the area over the years, I wanted to retain the name 'Musical Traditions' for the e-zine, and I was very pleased when Keith agreed to become its assistant editor.
The magazine was initially published within my AOL account, under the 'mustrad' screen name. This gave us a limited amount of space - allowing for several main articles with graphics, plus news and comment, reviews etc. It was intended that, when the space was filled, the next new article would replace the oldest - giving the magazine a sort of RORO format. I subsequently found that more space was available - so in the end nothing has ever been removed and all the published content is still available on the site.
To begin with, virtually the entire content of the ill-fated No 13 was available at the site - somewhat ahead of schedule - on Christmas Eve 1996. Subsequently, new Articles, a considerable number of News and Comment pieces, and scores of record and book reviews were added. Our readership reached almost 2,000 on the AOL site.
Briefly - Musical Traditions Magazine was launched and was a success. It was possible to include many more photos than was the case with the paper magazine, and many of them were in colour. Reviews were up-to-the-minute, often appearing only a week or two after the CD's publication date. But the real revolution, which made the move to the new medium such a step forward, was sound.
Through a combination of helpful advice and pure good luck, I found a way to include good quality sound clips within our Articles and Reviews. What's more (and far more to the point) we are able do it without undue expense - certainly nothing like the £1000 or more that it initially seemed that we'd need to pay.
Sadly, there was a down-side. Even the Real Audio sound files we were using were pretty large and it was obvious that my AOL web site would soon be full up. We really needed to get ourselves a proper site of our own, with plenty of space, a dedicated phone line, maybe our own domain name ...
We tried all the obvious sources of funding, but without success. Either we were not considered to work in the appropriate 'local' area, or we didn't want enough money! So - we were reduced to asking everybody we could think of with a serious interest in traditional music whether they could come up with a donation, however small, to help with the good work. Astonishingly, almost £1000 materialised within a month from the Friends of MT.
Then U-Net Ltd agreed to provide us with a 30Mb site for the price of a 5Mb one and, in September, only eight months after having first started, the new site at mustrad.org.uk came into being. Our readership exceeded 10,000 on the new site in the first year. The original AOL site was closed down at the end of 1997.
U-Net provided us with this sponsored site for two years, during which time the readership grew to just over 1,000 per month - a total of around 50,000. The magazine contained 40 main articles, 12 shorter Enthusiasms pieces, 2 complete books, hundreds of reviews, the complete Topic Records discography, a new and ongoing Recorded Traditional Music discography, 14 pages of news, a huge Links directory, over 500 photos and almost 450 sound clips on the site.
But in September 1999, having recently been taken over by a multi-national ISP, U-Net decided that we'd had enough help and sent me a bill for £700 for the next year's service, just 4 days before our contract expired! Since this sum was completely beyond our reach, I had a hectic 3 days' work (not to mention sleepless nights) finding another ISP and modifying and uploading the entire site before U-Net closed the existing one down. Fortunately it was all accomplished with a few hours to spare, and no reader had a break in service.
In November 2002 much the same thing happened again (this time due to heavy trafic - too many readers!), resulting in yet another move.
This material was accessed by quite a large number of readers - over 1.7 million individual visitors in 2011!
We also provided a CD-ROM based version of the magazine, to readers without Net access, or those wishing to save on hard drive space. This was suspended in 2012, since most readers now have broadband and the CD-ROMs sales diminished to single figures.
The Links2Go Key Resource award is both exclusive and objective. Fewer than one page in one thousand will ever be selected for inclusion. During the course of our analysis, we identify which links are most representative of each of the thousands of topics in Links2Go, based on how actual page authors, like yourself, index and organize links on their pages.And in December, 1999, we hear that another award had been earned:
Congratulations! Your Web site has received the Web Feet Seal of Approval and will appear in 'Web Feet: The Internet Traveler's Desk Reference'. Web Feet is the premier subject guide to the best Web sites for students, researchers, and the general public and is the first comprehensive Web guide that is interactive and updated monthly.And then, in January, 2000, a third one came along:
A site is included in Web Feet only if our researchers think it is an outstanding site in its subject area. The Web Feet Seal of Approval tells teachers, librarians, parents, and students that your site is especially valuable for research, teaching, or general interest.
Congratulations on your site Musical Traditions Internet Magazine, which has been awarded a Highly Commended rating by Schoolzone's panel of 250 expert teachers. It is included in our searchable database of educational web sites. Schoolzone specialises in educational support materials via the Internet.More recently, just round our 17th birthday, we got the Popular Websites Award.
We make no charges for use and do not accept any unsuitable material. Our site is at www.schoolzone.co.uk where you will find 30,000 educational websites all selected, described and categorised by teachers. We also offer teacher support services free of charge. Our monthly newsletter (200,000 copies) sent free to every UK school, reviews chosen sites such as yours.
We are a widely recognised internet award program and inspirational portal, that identifies the pioneers on the internet. We recognize websites that combine beautiful interactive design with intelligent technology, along with an unmatched dedication to the quality of their service.
PWA is proud of the selfless, passionate and creative efforts of our award winners who help make a difference in the lives of others and in the communities in which they operate.
2000 proved a busy year on the record publication front: another CD of Sussex singer George Townshend was issued in April; a new double CD of Walter Pardon in May; a single of Daisy Chapman in July; a further single of the Smith Family in September; and the MT production, The Road from Connemara, a new double CD of Joe Heaney, was published by Topic Records and Cló Iar-Chonnachta in November. Two more doubles - of Sussex pub recordings and a MIke Yates Collection compilation - appeared in the first few weeks of 2001.
The Records side of our activities was separated from the Magazine side in January 2001 in order that its profits can be declared to the Tax Authorities. It continues to fund the Magazine.
In January 2003, Musical Traditions Records acquired its own domain name and its own separate web site at www.mtrecords.co.uk It is now able to sell, direct from the site, using credit or debit cards courtesy of the international PayPal system. This is available more or less world-wide and accepts payments in all major currencies.
Musical Traditions Records productions are conceived with the intention of bringing music which might never achieve a commercial publication to the small audience which values it. Collectors with recordings of this sort, who would like to see them published in this way, are welcome to contact me to discuss the possibilities. Some further CD projects are in the planning stage, but their progress is dependant upon the co-operation and activity of our collaborators.
And in November 2016, MT's Sam Larner CDs won The Folklore Society's Non-Print Media Award for 2014-16.
By the start of 2017 the catalogue has increased to a total of 107 CDs and CD-ROMs, plus the 13 Magazine CD-ROMs, which are no longer published.
In addition to our own records, we are also now selling a small catalogue of CDs which are otherwise hard to find in the UK.
However, with the growth of broadband provision, such a product becomes less and less viable each year. It was first produced when academic publications wanted something 'actual' rather than virtual for their citations, and as an aid to readers then paying by the minute for dial-up Web access.
In truth, the CD-ROM never sold many copies (around a dozen per year), and this last year (2012) has seen only three purchases. Accordingly, the task is no longer worth the time and trouble involved, and I have decided not to publish any further volumes. I will continue to supply the VWML and ITMA with simple copies, as they like to have them for reference purposes.
As an example, one proposed E-CD publication might contain the Wyper Brothers, Scott Skinner, John McKenna, William Clarke and Eddie Quinn articles together with the four 78rpm titles recorded by Quinn and around half a dozen each of representative 78s from the other performers. Where possible, such publications would feature articles on similar types of music, so that a purchaser would not find that half the E-CD didn't interest him/her.
Readers who wished to would be able to copy the articles files to their hard disc and thus be able to read the articles whilst listening to the audio tracks.
This idea has now been largely replaced by our publication of Downloads (see below).
We have considered it at some length, and have come to the conclusion that:
Since downloads require no booklet production, case covers, CDs, DVD cases or postage, they sell for a far lower price. Compared to £10, £12, £16 and £20 for the 300 Series publications, the downloads of single CDs are £1.00 or £2.00, double CDs are £4.00, and 3-CD Sets are £6.00. The facility exists to pay more than these low prices, if you'd like to!
It is undeniably the case that a writer from outside a particular culture will often bring ideas and perspectives to bear which serve to illuminate the subject in a way which might not be possible for a native writer. Nonetheless, it is clear that the team's expertise can be somewhat stretched in the case of music from little known cultures, and that some native viewpoints would be certain to enhance the magazine's output. Added to this, now that we are truly international - in medium as well as content - we should be in a far better position to solicit potential contributors from other parts of the world.
Negotiations are on-going and are beginning to yield results - we have contributions from Ireland, Scotland, USA, Australia, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy so far, and hope that more will be forthcoming.
We have now gone a short way in this process - though, without funding, we cannot yet afford any paper publications. Keith Summers' Sing, Say or Pay! - a mammoth survey and round-up of his collecting work in East Suffolk, unavailable for more than 21 years - has been re-published here with a revised and updated text and discographies and the inclusion of sound clips from his extensive tape collection. We have also published Dr Mike Brocken's Doctoral thesis The British Folk Revival, at 615KB or 125 pages, a complete book in itself. (This latter has now been removed, following its print publication).
The fourth MT Supplement is the (more or less) entire writings of world-expert Keith Chandler on Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands 1660-1900 (MTCD250) which appeared on CD-ROM in mid-2001. This brought together his two books Ribbons, Bells and Squeaking Fiddles and A Chronological Gazetteer, plus numerous other published and unpublished shorter works on the subject into one essential volume. Every piece has been fully revised and updated for this new MT publication, reflecting Keith's continuing research into the Morris tradition. This CD-ROM was The Morris publication of the decade.
Further CD-ROM Supplements (each essentially complete books) have followed: House Dance (MTCD251); A Somerset Scrapbook (MTCD252); Vaughan Williams in Norfolk (MTCD253); and Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland (MTCD254).
For similar reasons, we would like to buy some magazine design help and advice from professionals - we realise that enthusiastic amateurs can only go so far on their own. However, such tentative feelers as we have put out in this direction seem to indicate that professionals either misunderstand what our intentions for the magazine are, or they can't grasp how little money we have to work with! or else that they feel the site is pretty well OK as it is. The addition of the Site Map has been the only really worthwhile suggestion.
The Reviews section of MT was always read with great interest - and rightly so. The reviews were invariably authoritative, thought provoking and full. This latter quality is far from usual in modern publishing - unsurprisingly, given the constraints of space/cost and the numbers of items needing reviews which a modern mainstream publication has to juggle with. Thus, the usual space and cost concerns need not bother us too much in MT and it's unlikely that we will be overwhelmed with 'product' in the immediate future. So - MT will continue to print reviews which are as extensive as their authors feel is required.
A quick glance at the Letters page of any music magazine reveals that a good proportion of the contributions are direct responses to reviews which have appeared in previous issues. This is inevitable - no one reviewer is likely to be as even-handed, or encyclopaedic in knowledge as might be desirable in the best of all possible worlds. Often, this is quite a good thing, in that it involves readers in the ensuing debate and enlivens the whole ambience of the publication.
Sometimes however, it is obvious from the outset that a particular item might benefit from two reviews from quite different points of view. Alternately, a reviewer might submit something which is obviously going to be contentious, despite being perfectly soundly argued. In these circumstances, among others, we have been looking at the possibility of sometimes producing what might be called 'dialogue reviews'. These would be reviews on the same record, book etc. by two people of differing outlook, gender, nationality, point of view, training - whatever - where each will have seen the other's original review, and will have had the opportunity of commenting upon, amplifying, correcting or even denying various points. Your editors would then attempt to combine the two reviews and the reviewers' dialogue into a cohesive account of their views and arguments.
Many readers have said that they think such 'dialogue reviews' would be a good idea, but so far we've only been able to organise a few. It is often difficult to prize one, let alone two, review copies out of record companies, and our regular reviewers seem to have very different ideas about deadlines - ranging from one week to more than six months! The best we have been able to do is to publish two reviews of the same record side by side, in about a dozen cases.
It is our intention to develop the magazine into an informative and authoritative source of information which fully utilises the potential of its new medium, and is more attractive to a younger audience. It already reaches a far larger readership than was possible before and, by utilising modern technology, keeps them informed of developments in the field as they happen. We are actively engaged in seeking both articles and reviews from foreign contributors. We also believe that MT will fulfil an important educational role.
We offer a simple way for people with an interest in folk, world or roots music, particularly the countless young people who have been attracted by the recent popularity of these genres, to take their interest a step further. In Musical Traditions they can find in-depth critical reviews of records and books by real experts, and serious articles on seminal figures in traditional music. We are prompting more people to develop an interest in their indigenous musical traditions - encouraging them to develop their musical and performance skills and incorporate traditional material and stylistic nuances. We are actively encouraging both new writing and research on the subject and offering publishing facilities to many who are otherwise denied them.
Tell us what aspect of traditional music you'd like to see covered in the future.
Particularly, please give us an indication of whether you might consider contributing reviews, news, comment, or an article at some point.
Rod Stradling - editor
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