--transcribed from Martin Hayes, "Sincerely Felt" track on Gerry Diver's The Speech Project album
I was listening to The Speech Project one day last week and my brain stuck on this passage from the track. (As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, The Speech Project is an album where Irish musicians were interviewed and the musical qualities of the recordings of their voices were used to arrange orchestral pieces.)
While Hayes is speaking here about playing traditional Irish music, I think to some degree it holds true for other traditional genres as well. I'm specifically thinking of contra here, and the ways in which the newer infusions are in their own ways authentic to the time in which we live, and yet still fall under the umbrella of the Tradition -- or at least, ostensibly they do, and this is what has created some interesting tensions within the community.
Fellow syncretists would argue that the new iterations do in fact fall under the "authentically musical, inside the tradition" idea. Detractors, on the other hand, would claim that pandering to modern tastes falls into the "manipulative and...not authentic" camp. But that implies, to me, that the purists think that syncretists are out to intentionally destroy the tradition for some as-yet-unarticulated reason. (For any purists out there, I would be genuinely interested to have a civil discussion about theories, started with the understanding that we are likely to agree to disagree at the end.)