Academics, specialists and practitioners have been arguing over this for decades and still no one has come up with a final answer. For that reason, we will not attempt to do so here either. Both terms can be used to describe a genre of activities and all of these activities are covered by this project, so long as they are happening within England. Folk seems a more comfortable term for general use in relation to this project as it does not evoke the antiquity nor the authenticity that can sometimes be inferred by the term ‘traditional’. In other ways, the term ‘traditional’ is a little too broad: there are many ‘traditions’ out there that aren’t within the scope of the project. The digital mediations of the Italian operatic tradition, for instance, are probably the subject for a different piece of research…!
Nevertheless, we realise that some of the participants on whom we’re focusing would sooner refer to their activity as traditional – for instance, those involved in Irish traditional music – but we’re hopeful that our reliance on the word ‘folk’ as a broad umbrella term won’t put those people off.