This paper explores the interaction between fieldworker and "tradition bearer" over an extended period of time, in the context of an ethnographic study of singing traditions in the southern Pennines of England. Using examples, it examines the negative as well as the positive aspects of the exchange, with particular emphasis on mutuality and reciprocity. It charts the development of key relationships and the ways in which they have come to maturity and achieved equilibrium. Careful thought is given to the role of the fieldworker in respect of active/ passive, interventionist/non-interventionist stances. Aspects of performance, commercialisation, networking, promotion, and media relations are discussed. Following a consideration of ethical and moral issues, including exploitation and advocacy, the paper suggests a working model of partnership as a way forward for future productive field-based research into traditional expressive arts.