The History of American Folk Music Finding Common Ground Through Music. Folk songs can be about different subjects like war, work, civil rights, economic hardship, nonsense, satire, and love songs. Historically, folk music has played a significant role in defining nations. The history of folk music, as told by Michael Morpurgo BBC Radio 4's Michael Morpurgo’s Folk Journeys explores the musical tradition of songs about war, protest, immigration and love. Workers and folk singers gathered in churches, living rooms and union halls, and learned songs that helped them cope with their rough work environment. Since folk music lives in oral tradition, its history can best be understood through a study of its relationship to other musics. The partial duplication of repertories and style indicates such cross-fertilization that a given song may sometimes be called both folk and popular. The history of the Archive of Folk Culture begins as a story of “song-catchers.” A year earlier, in 1928, when Robert W. Gordon came to the Library of Congress as head of the newly created Archive of American Folk-Song, he brought with him his dream of collecting all American folksongs. The typical 21st-century conception of folk music comes from beliefs about the nature of music and musical life in the village cultures of Europe from the 18th into the 19th century; but this traditional folk music culture was affected greatly by the rise of industrial society and of cities, as well as by nationalist movements beginning in the 19th century. Certain musical forms are characteristic of the folk dance music of various parts of Europe. We say that the tradition is “orally transmitted” or “handed down orally”, meaning that the music is not written down but taught by speaking (“oral” means “belonging to the mouth”). The alt-country movement that came to a head in the 1990s has given way to an Americana upsurge. Folk music emerged out of the tradition of storytelling. In the 1940s, bluegrass began to evolve as a distinct genre with greats like Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, which spawned banjo legend Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt, as well as Del McCoury and others. The application of print and recording technology to folk music has promoted wide interest, making possible the revival of folk music where traditional folklife and folklore are moribund. They picked up the legacies of Woody Guthrie and others, singing songs about the concerns of the day. Folk music took a shift especially in Europe during World War II to convey messages regarding political agendas and social change. Folk music first appeared as early as the 1920s, slowly gaining popularity during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl (from 1930-36). In New York, the Fast Folk Café opened and spawned the likes of Suzanne Vega, Michelle Shocked, and John Gorka. Folk festivals are also thriving with younger audiences joining their parents’ generation in celebrating folk singer/songwriters as variant as Kris Kristofferson, Dar Williams, Shovels + Rope and Carolina Chocolate Drops. One of the characteristics of folk music is rhythmic music. Woody wrote hundreds of songs between the 1930s and his death in 1967 of Huntington’s Chorea. Popular music, like folk music, has become a significant marker of ethnicity and nation, and folk music has become gradually more like popular music, produced by professionals and disseminated through mass media for consumption by an urban, nonparticipating mass audience. Convicts at Cummins State Farm, Arkansas, 1934, possibly the singers of the “Rock Island Line” recording. The History of Folk Music. The indie-rock scene of the early 2000s has reshaped acoustic music into something people are referring to now as "indie folk" or "indie roots," which is basically a blend of indie-rock and traditional song elements and acoustic instruments. See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions. With the Great Migration of black workers that began around that time the Blues spread around the south and the rest of the United States. Folk music is music that is played or sung by ordinary people (not professional musicians).It is traditional music that people learn by listening to other people playing it and then copying them. Certainly, in America, songs by traditional American folk singers like Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie tell stories that often don’t even appear in history books. 4.6 out of 5 stars 6 ratings. In colonial America and the early United States, folk music was an important part of daily life. The possibly exaggerated origin story of the real life alien bluegrass band, Future Folk, that has been playing for NYC audiences for the better part of a decade. She is also the Community Manager for the folk music magazine NoDepression. Ancient music and dance traditions from the temples and courts of China, India, and Indonesia are preserved in Asian communities throughout the state, and popular song genres are continually layered on to these classical music forms. Though it is understoo… It is often contrasted with courtly, classical and later commercial music. LEGENDS OF FOLK: THE VILLAGE SCENE celebrates the folk movement in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, featuring rare and stunning performances. The term Folk music came from England, where they took the German word “volk”, meaning people, and applied it to mean the common people of England, the illiterate peasants who passed on stories and legends through song as they were unable to publish books. This interest has continued into the 21st century, as attempts to circumscribe entire folk music repertoires in notation have been the intent of major projects, particularly in eastern Europe. In the 1930s, folk music enjoyed a resurgence as the stock market crashed and workers everywhere were displaced, scrambling for jobs. Theories of folk music have been beclouded by the difficulties in recognizing, isolating, and defining a phenomenon as elusive and complex as folk music. Joe Hill was an early folk songwriter and union agitator. The current popularity of “Americana” is only the most recent phase in the long history of American folk music. By the 1970s, folk music had begun to fade into the background, as the US pulled out of Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement saw its biggest triumphs. Leaders in these movements included Bedrich Smetana and Dvořák for Czech music, Edvard Grieg for Norwegian, Mikhail Glinka and Modest Mussorgsky for Russian, Bartók for Hungarian, Georges Enesco for Romanian, and Aaron Copland and Roy Harris for American cultures. Whilst the far left consortium of folk singers are marginalised, Folk goes pop. The School continued to grow, contributing to and benefiting from the folk revival movement of the 1960s. It’s a pattern that occurs again and again; a new nation is formed, and a unique national sound is developed. Instruments such as banjos and guitars are frequently used. The 1960s folk revival offered political commentary while articulating a powerful promise for change. In the 1980s, folk singers focused on the Reagan-led economy and trickle-down economics. Some types of folk music are also called world music as it includes both traditional music as well as folk revival. Originally issued by Folkways Records in 1952, the Anthology brought virtually unknown parts of America's musical landscape recorded in the late 1920s and early 1930s to the public's attention. A history of folk and world music in 50 key moments, as chosen by Guardian and Observer writers Find the Guardian's full history of modern music. folk (n.) Old English folc "common people, laity; men; people, nation, tribe; multitude; troop, army," from Proto-Germanic *fulka-(source also of Old Saxon folc, Old Frisian folk, Middle Dutch volc, Dutch volk, Old High German folc, German Volk "people"). American folk music has no precise nameable origin because it organically grew out of a communal tradition more than for entertainment or profit. These tunes have been sung during worker strikes and in union halls ever since. The earliest folk musicians include Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Jimmie Rogers, and Burl Ives. There are many types of folk dance, some widespread throughout Europe, others peculiar to nations and regions, each with its typical musical style. The term further derives from the German expression volk, in the sense of "the people as a whole" as applied to popular and national music by Johann Gottfried Herderand the German Romantics over half a century earlier. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. But folk music hasn’t always had a positive history. Folk Music has had it's highs and lows in popularity, but has always remained as a foundation of the music scene, from the original appearance of American folk music in the slave fields, through the protest music decades and into the future, it will always be a part of us, and if the world collapsed tomorrow, Folk Music would be the first to arise like the Phoenix from the ashes. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. The School developed a special atmosphere of community and camaraderie, and helped to launch some of the brightest artists on the folk music scene: Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Bob Gibson, John Prine, Bonnie Koloc, and the late Steve Goodman all studied at the Old Town School. Folk music, created by ordinary people and often shaped by events in their lives, was handed down from one generation to another. The nationalist movements of 19th- and early 20th-century art music drew on folk tunes and their styles, as well as folk dances and themes from folklore and village life, to develop distinctive repertories. Performance characteristics of folk music. Depending on the region, djembes and drums are also used. National and social movements in the early 19th century stimulated the search for and collecting of folk songs. Folk songs are frequently part of public school music curricula, and groups that focus in one way or another on folk music, often in conjunction with folk dance, have arisen; festivals of folk music and dance are an annual event in many communities throughout the world. Church music and folk music have been related at various times. The American Folklife Center was created by the United States Congress in 1976 to "preserve and present American Folklife," but its roots can be traced to the establishment of the Archive of American Folk-Song in the Library's Music Division in 1928. Societies that have developed popular music also have a folk music tradition, or remnants thereof. The terms folk music, folk song, and folk dance are comparatively recent expressions. With Nils d'Aulaire, Jay Klaitz, Julie Ann Emery, April Hernandez Castillo. Indeed the folk music in and of our country has been “discovered,” or “revived,” several times over the past century. Folk tunes were often used as structural and motivic raw material for motets and masses; likewise, the music of the Protestant Reformation borrowed from folk music. Since the last decade of the 19th century, folk music has been collected and preserved by mechanical recordings. Slaves sang in the cotton fields of the South. Today, American folk music has begun to swell again as the working class finds themselves in a position of economic recession and social change is welling up for everyone from the working and middle class to LGBT people, immigrants and others struggling for equality.