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Béla Bartók recording Slovak peasant singers in 1908
|Traditions||List of folk music traditions|
|Musicians||List of folk musicians|
Béla Bartók recording Slovak peasant singers in 1908
|Traditions||List of folk music traditions|
|Musicians||List of folk musicians|
Folk music includes both traditional music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th century folk revival. The term originated in the 19th century but is often applied to music that is older than that. Some types of folk music are also called world music.
Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, or as music with unknown composers. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. One meaning often given is that of old songs, with no known composers; another is music that has been transmitted and evolved by a process of oral transmission or performed by custom over a long period of time.
Starting in the mid-20th century a new form of popular folk music evolved from traditional folk music. This process and period is called the (second) folk revival and reached a zenith in the 1960s. This form of music is sometimes called contemporary folk music or folk revival music to distinguish it from earlier folk forms. Smaller similar revivals have occurred elsewhere in the world at other times, but the term folk music has typically not been applied to the new music created during those revivals. This type of folk music also includes fusion genres such as folk rock, folk metal, electric folk, and others. While contemporary folk music is a genre generally distinct from traditional folk music, in English it shares the same name, and it often shares the same performers and venues as traditional folk music. Even individual songs may be a blend of the two.
|Traditional folk music|
|Stylistic origins||Traditional music|
|Cultural origins||Individual nations or regions|
|Typical instruments||See Folk instruments|
A consistent definition of traditional folk music is elusive. The terms folk music, folk song, and folk dance are comparatively recent expressions. They are extensions of the term folklore, which was coined in 1846 by the English antiquarian William Thoms to describe "the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes." The term is further derived from the German expression Volk, in the sense of "the people as a whole" as applied to popular and national music by Johann Gottfried Herder and the German Romantics over half a century earlier. Traditional folk music also includes most indigenous music.
However, despite the assembly of an enormous body of work over some two centuries, there is still no certain definition of what folk music (or folklore, or the folk) is. Folk music may tend to have certain characteristics but it cannot clearly be differentiated in purely musical terms. One meaning often given is that of "old songs, with no known composers", another is that of music that has been submitted to an evolutionary "process of oral transmission.... the fashioning and re-fashioning of the music by the community that give it its folk character."
Such definitions depend upon "(cultural) processes rather than abstract musical types...", upon "continuity and oral transmission...seen as characterizing one side of a cultural dichotomy, the other side of which is found not only in the lower layers of feudal, capitalist and some oriental societies but also in 'primitive' societies and in parts of 'popular cultures'." One widely used definition is simply "Folk music is what the people sing".
For Scholes, as well as for Cecil Sharp and Béla Bartók, there was a sense of the music of the country as distinct from that of the town. Folk music was already, "...seen as the authentic expression of a way of life now past or about to disappear (or in some cases, to be preserved or somehow revived)," particularly in "a community uninfluenced by art music" and by commercial and printed song. Lloyd rejected this in favour of a simple distinction of economic class yet for him true folk music was, in Charles Seeger's words, "associated with a lower class" in culturally and socially stratified societies. In these terms folk music may be seen as part of a "schema comprising four musical types: 'primitive' or 'tribal'; 'elite' or 'art'; 'folk'; and 'popular'."
Music in this genre is also often called traditional music. Although the term is usually only descriptive, in some cases people use it as the name of a genre. For example, the Grammy Award previously used "traditional music" for folk music that is not contemporary folk music.
From a historical perspective, traditional folk music had these characteristics:
As a side-effect, the following characteristics are sometimes present:
In folk music, a tune is a short instrumental piece, a melody, often with repeating sections, and usually played a number of times. A collection of tunes with structural similarities is known as a tune-family. The most common form for tunes in folk music is AABB, also known as binary form.
In some traditions, tunes may be strung together in medleys or "sets."
Throughout most of human prehistory and history, listening to recorded music was not possible. Music was made by common people during both their work and leisure. The work of economic production was often manual and communal. Manual labor often included singing by the workers, which served several practical purposes. It reduced the boredom of repetitive tasks, it kept the rhythm during synchronized pushes and pulls, and it set the pace of many activities such as planting, weeding, reaping, threshing, weaving, and milling. In leisure time, singing and playing musical instruments were common forms of entertainment and history-telling—even more common than today, when electrically enabled technologies and widespread literacy make other forms of entertainment and information-sharing competitive.
Opinions differed on the origins of folk music. Some said it was art music that was changed and probably debased by oral transmission—others said it reflects the character of the race that produced it. Traditionally, the cultural transmission of folk music is through learning by ear, although notation may also be used. The competition of individual and collective theories of composition set different demarcations and relations of folk music with the music of tribal societies on the one hand and of "art" and "court" music on the other. The traditional cultures that did not rely upon written music or had less social stratification could not be readily categorized. In the proliferation of popular music genres, some traditional folk music became also referred to "World music" or "Roots music".
The English term "folklore", to describe traditional folk music and dance, entered the vocabulary of many continental European nations, each of which had its folk-song collectors and revivalists. The distinction between "authentic" folk and national and popular song in general has always been loose, particularly in America and Germany - for example popular songwriters such as Stephen Foster could be termed "folk" in America. The International Folk Music Council definition allows that the term can also apply to music that, "...has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten, living tradition of a community. But the term does not cover a song, dance, or tune that has been taken over ready-made and remains unchanged."
The post–World War II folk revival in America and in Britain started a new genre, contemporary folk music and brought an additional meaning to the term folk music. The popularity of "contemporary folk" recordings caused the appearance of the category "Folk" in the Grammy Awards of 1959: in 1970 the term was dropped in favor of "Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording (including Traditional Blues)", while 1987 brought a distinction between "Best Traditional Folk Recording" and "Best Contemporary Folk Recording". After that they had a "Traditional music" category that subsequently evolved into others. The term "folk", by the start of the 21st century, could cover singer song-writers, such as Donovan from Scotland and American Bob Dylan, who emerged in the 1960s and much more. This completed a process to where "folk music" no longer meant only traditional folk music.
Apart from instrumental music that forms a part of traditional folk music, especially dance music traditions, much traditional folk music is vocal music, since the instrument that makes such music is usually handy. As such, most traditional folk music has meaningful lyrics.
Narrative verse looms large in the traditional folk music of many cultures. This encompasses such forms as traditional epic poetry, much of which was meant originally for oral performance, sometimes accompanied by instruments. Many epic poems of various cultures were pieced together from shorter pieces of traditional narrative verse, which explains their episodic structure and often their in medias res plot developments. Other forms of traditional narrative verse relate the outcomes of battles and other tragedies or natural disasters.
Sometimes, as in the triumphant Song of Deborah found in the Biblical Book of Judges, these songs celebrate victory. Laments for lost battles and wars, and the lives lost in them, are equally prominent in many traditions; these laments keep alive the cause for which the battle was fought. The narratives of traditional songs often also remember folk heroes such as John Henry to Robin Hood. Some traditional song narratives recall supernatural events or mysterious deaths.
Hymns and other forms of religious music are often of traditional and unknown origin. Western musical notation was originally created to preserve the lines of Gregorian chant, which before its invention was taught as an oral tradition in monastic communities. Traditional songs such as Green grow the rushes, O present religious lore in a mnemonic form. In the Western world, Christmas carols and other traditional songs preserve religious lore in song form.
Work songs frequently feature call and response structures and are designed to enable the laborers who sing them to coordinate their efforts in accordance with the rhythms of the songs. They are frequently, but not invariably, composed. In the American armed forces, a lively tradition of jody calls ("Duckworth chants") are sung while soldiers are on the march. Professional sailors made use of a large body of sea shanties. Love poetry, often of a tragic or regretful nature, prominently figures in many folk traditions. Nursery rhymes and nonsense verse also are frequent subjects of traditional songs.
Music transmitted by word of mouth through a community, in time, develops many variants, because this kind of transmission cannot produce word-for-word and note-for-note accuracy. Indeed, many traditional singers are quite creative and deliberately modify the material they learn.
For example the words of "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day" (Roud 975) are known from a broadside in the Bodleian Library. The date is almost certainly before 1900, and it seems to be Irish. In 1958 the song was recorded in Canada (My Name is Pat and I'm Proud of That). Scottish traveler Jeannie Robertson from Aberdeen, made the next recorded version in 1961. She has changed it to make reference to "Jock Stewart", one of her relatives, and there are no Irish references. In 1976 Scottish artist Archie Fisher deliberately altered the song to remove the reference to a dog being shot. In 1985 The Pogues took it full circle by restoring all the Irish references.
Because variants proliferate naturally, it is naive to believe that there is such a thing as the single "authentic" version of a ballad such as "Barbara Allen". Field researchers in traditional song (see below) have encountered countless versions of this ballad throughout the English-speaking world, and these versions often differ greatly from each other. None can reliably claim to be the original, and it is possible that the "original" version ceased to be sung centuries ago. Any version can lay an equal claim to authenticity, so long as it is truly from a traditional singing community and not the work of an outside editor.
Cecil Sharp had an influential idea about the process of folk variation: he felt that the competing variants of a traditional song would undergo a process akin to biological natural selection: only those new variants that were the most appealing to ordinary singers would be picked up by others and transmitted onward in time. Thus, over time we would expect each traditional song to become aesthetically ever more appealing — it would be collectively composed to perfection, as it were, by the community.
A literary interest in the popular ballad was not new; it dates back to Thomas Percy and William Wordsworth. English Elizabethan and Stuart composers had often evolved their music from folk themes, the classical suite was based upon stylised folk-dances and Joseph Haydn's use of folk melodies is noted. But the emergence of the term "folk" coincided with an "outburst of national feeling all over Europe" that was particularly strong at the edges of Europe, where national identity was most asserted. Nationalist composers emerged in Central Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, Spain and Britain: the music of Dvořák, Smetana, Grieg, Rimsky-Korsakov, Brahms, Liszt, de Falla, Wagner, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Bartók and many others drew upon folk melodies.
While the loss of traditional folk music in the face of the rise of popular music is a worldwide phenomenon, it is not one occurring at a uniform rate throughout the world. While even many tribal cultures are losing traditional folk music and folk cultures, the process is most advanced "where industrialization and commercialisation of culture are most advanced". Yet in nations or regions where traditional folk music is a badge of cultural or national identity, the loss of traditional music can be slowed; this is held to be true, for instance in the case of Bangladesh, Hungary, India, Ireland, Scotland, Latvia, Turkey, Portugal, Brittany, and Galicia, Greece and Crete all of which retain their traditional music to some degree, in some such areas the decline of traditional music and loss of traditions has been reversed.
This is most obvious where tourist agencies brand some regions with the word "Celtic". Guide books and posters from Ireland, Scotland in Gaelic, English, Doric and Scots, Cornwall, Brittany and Nova Scotia refer to live music performances. Local government often sponsors and promotes performances during tourist seasons, and revives lost traditions.
Much of what is known about pre-recording-era folk music comes to us from scholarly fieldwork and writings. Most documented activity regarding folk music from the era prior to electronic recording, distribution and broadcast of folk music consists of the work of scholars, collectors and proponents.
Starting in the 19th century, interested people – academics and amateur scholars – started to take note of what was being lost, and there grew various efforts aimed at preserving the music of the people. One prominent such effort was the collection by Francis James Child in the late 19th century of the texts of over three hundred ballads in the English and Scots traditions (called the Child Ballads) most of which predated the 16th century.
Contemporaneously with Child came the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, and later and more significantly Cecil Sharp who worked in the early 20th century to preserve a great body of English rural traditional song, music and dance, under the aegis of what became and remains the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). Sharp also worked in America, recording the traditional songs of the Appalachian Mountains in 1916–1918 in collaboration with Maud Karpeles and Olive Dame Campbell and is considered the first major scholar covering American folk music.
Campbell and Sharp are represented under other names by actors in the modern movie Songcatcher. Throughout the 1960s and early to mid-1970s, American scholar Bertrand Harris Bronson published an exhaustive, four-volume collection of the then-known variations of both the texts and tunes associated with what came to be known as the Child Canon. He also advanced some significant theories concerning the workings of oral-aural tradition.
Similar activity was also under way in other countries. One of the most extensive was perhaps the work done in Riga by Krisjanis Barons who between the years between 1894 and 1915 published six volumes including the texts of 217 996 Latvian folk songs; the Latvju dainas. In Norway the work of collectors such as Ludvig Mathias Lindeman was extensively used by Edvard Grieg in his Lyric Pieces for piano and in other works, which became immensely popular.
Around this time, composers of classical music developed a strong interest in traditional song collecting, and a number of outstanding composers carried out their own field work on traditional song. These included Percy Grainger and Ralph Vaughan Williams in England and Béla Bartók in Hungary. These composers, like many of their predecessors, both made arrangements of folk songs and incorporated traditional material into original classical compositions. The Latviju dainas are extensively used in the classical choral works of Andrejs Jurāns, Jānis Cimze, and Emilis Melngailis.
Earliest American scholars were with The American Folklore Society (AFS), which emerged in the late 1800s. Their studies expanded to include Native American music, but still treated folk music as a historical item preserved in isolated societies as well since it is a very popular type of music. In North America, during the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress worked through the offices of traditional music collectors Robert Winslow Gordon, Alan Lomax and others to capture as much North American field material as possible. Lomax was the first prominent scholar to study distinctly American folk music such as that of cowboys and southern blacks. His first major published work was in 1911, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads. and was arguably the most prominent US folk music scholar of his time, notably during the beginnings of the folk music revival in the 1930s and early 1940s.
People who studied traditional song sometimes hoped that their work would restore traditional music to the people. For instance, Cecil Sharp campaigned, with some success, to have English traditional songs (in his own heavily edited and expurgated versions) to be taught to school children.
One strong theme amongst folk scholars in the early decades of the 20th century was regionalism. This tended to recognize the diversity of folk music (and related cultures) based on regions of the US rather than based on just its roots. Later, a dynamic of class and circumstances was added to this.
The most prominent regionalists were literary figures with a particular interest in folklore. Carl Sandburg often traveled the U.S. as a writer and a poet. He also collected songs in his travels and, in 1927, published them in a book American Songbag. "In his collections of folk songs, Sandburg added a class dynamic to popular understandings of American folk music. This was the final element of the foundation upon which the early folk music revivalists constructed their own view of Americanism. Sandburg's working class Americans joined with the ethnically racially and regionally diverse citizens that other scholars, public intellectuals, and folklorists celebrated their own definitions of the American folk, definitions that the folk revivalists used in constructing their own understanding of American folk music, and an overarching American identity".
Prior to the 1930s, larger scale themes and linkages between were mostly drawn by folk music scholars and collectors. The 1930s saw the beginnings of larger scale themes, commonalities, themes and linkages in folk music developing in the populace and practitioners as well, often related to the great depression. Regionalism and cultural pluralism grew as influences and themes. During this time folk music began to become enmeshed with political and social activism themes and movements. Two related developments were the U.S. Communist Party's interest in folk music as a way to reach and influence Americans, and politically active prominent folk musicians and scholars seeing communism as a possible better system, through the lens of the Great Depression. Woody Guthrie is a great example of a songwriter and artist with such an outlook.
Much of the folk music growth in the 1930s was in the area of live performance, particularly in folk festivals that began during the 1930s. President Franklin Roosevelt was a fan of folk music, hosted folk concerts at the White House and often patronized folk festivals. One prominent festival was Sarah Gertrude Knott's National Folk Festival. It moved to Washington D.C. in 1937 under the sponsorship of the Washington Post. It remained there, held at Constitution Hall through 1942. Folk festivals were activist, seen as forces for social good, integrating wartime perspectives into the process. The folk music movement, festivals, and the wartime effort were seen as forces for democracy, cultural pluralism, and the removal of culture and race-based barriers.
The American folk music revivalists of the 1930s approached folk music in different ways. "Traditionalists like Sarah Gertrude Knott and John Lomax viewed folk music as cultural traditions from a bygone era. Functionalist folklorists like Botkin and Alan Lomax recognized that, though rooted in the past, folk music remained culturally relevant for the communities that maintained the traditions. Left-wing revivalists like Charles Seeger and Lawrence Gellert interpreted folk music as a grass-roots cultural form that came from the people and was written for the people such that it could be used in 'people's' struggles for social and political rights. Despite the revivalists' various political views and different opinions regarding the nature of authentic folk music, they all shared an understanding of Americanism that grounded the nation's identity in cultural pluralism and political democracy" By the end of the 1930s they along with the musicians and others had turned American folk music into a social movement.
Sometimes folk musicians became scholars and advocates themselves. For example, Jean Ritchie (born in 1922) was the youngest child of a large family from Viper, Kentucky that had preserved many of the old Appalachian traditional songs. Ritchie, living in a time when the Appalachians had opened up to outside influence, was university educated and ultimately moved to New York City, where she made a number of classic recordings of the family repertoire and published an important compilation of these songs. (See also Hedy West)
In January 2012, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, with the Association for Cultural Equity, announced that they would release Lomax's vast archive of 1946 and later recording in digital form. Lomax spent the last 20 years of his life working on an interactive multimedia educational computer project he called the Global Jukebox, which included 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, and 5,000 photographs. As of March 2012 this has been accomplished. Approximately 17,400 of Lomax's recordings from 1946 and later have been made available free online.
This is material from Alan Lomax’s independent archive, begun in 1946, which has been digitized and offered by the Association for Cultural Equity. This is "distinct from the thousands of earlier recordings on acetate and aluminum discs he made from 1933 to 1942 under the auspices of the Library of Congress. This earlier collection—which includes the famous Jelly Roll Morton, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Muddy Waters sessions, as well as Lomax’s prodigious collections made in Haiti and Eastern Kentucky (1937) — is the provenance of the American Folklife Center" at the library of Congress
Africa is a vast continent and its regions and nations have distinct musical traditions. The music of North Africa for the most part has a different history from Sub-Saharan African music traditions.
The music and dance forms of the African diaspora, including African American music and many Caribbean genres like soca, calypso and Zouk; and Latin American music genres like the samba, rumba, salsa; and other clave (rhythm)-based genres, were founded to varying degrees on the music of African slaves, which has in turn influenced African popular music.
Many Asian civilizations distinguish between art/court/classical styles and "folk" music, though cultures that do not depend greatly upon notation and have much anonymous art music must distinguish the two in different ways from those suggested by western scholars. For example the late Alam Lohar is a good example of a classical South Asian folk singer of great repute.
Han traditional weddings and funerals usually include a form of oboe called a suona and apercussive ensembles called a chuigushou. Ensembles consisting of mouth organs (sheng), shawms (suona), flutes (dizi) and percussion instruments (especially yunluo gongs) are popular in northern villages; their music is descended from the imperial temple music of Beijing, Xi'an, Wutai shan and Tianjin. Xi'an drum music, consisting of wind and percussive instruments, is popular around Xi'an, and has received some commercial popularity outside of China. Another important instrument is the sheng, pipes, an ancient instrument that is ancestor of all Western free reed instruments, such as the accordion. Parades led by Western-type brass bands are common, often competing in volume with a shawm/chuigushou band.
In southern Fujian and Taiwan, Nanyin or Nanguan is a genre of traditional ballads. They are sung by a woman accompanied by a xiao and a pipa, as well as other traditional instruments. The music is generally sorrowful and typically deals with a love-stricken women. Further south, in Shantou, Hakka and Chaozhou, erxian and zheng ensembles are popular.Sizhu ensembles use flutes and bowed or plucked string instruments to make harmonious and melodious music that has become popular in the West among some listeners. These are popular in Nanjing and Hangzhou, as well as elsewhere along the southern Yangtze area. Sizhu has been secularized in cities but remains spiritual in rural areas.Jiangnan Sizhu (silk and bamboo music from Jiangnan) is a style of instrumental music, often played by amateur musicians in tea houses in Shanghai; it has become widely known outside of its place of origin. Guangdong Music or Cantonese Music is instrumental music from Guangzhou and surrounding areas. It is based on Yueju (Cantonese Opera) music, together with new compositions from the 1920s onwards. Many pieces have influences from jazz and Western music, using syncopation and triple time. This music tells stories, myths and legends. One of the most popular folk songs of China is Mo Li Hua ("Beautiful Jasmine").
The genre of Sri Lankan music is known as Oriental music. The art, music and dances of Sri Lanka were derived from the elements of nature, and have been enjoyed and developed in the Buddhist environment. The music is of several types and uses only a few types of instruments. The folk songs and poems were used in social gatherings to work together. The Indian influenced classical music has grown to be unique. The traditional drama, music and songs are typically Sri Lankan. The temple paintings and carvings used birds, elephants, wild animals, flowers and trees, and the Traditional 18 Dances display the dancing of birds and animals. For example:
Musical types include:
The classical Sinhalese Orchestra consists of five categories of instruments, but among the percussion instruments, the drum is essential for dance. The vibrant beat of the rhythm of the drums form the basic of the dance. The dancers feet bounce off the floor and they leap and swirl in patterns that reflect the complex rhythms of the drum beat. This drum beat may seem simple on the first hearing but it takes a long time to master the intricate rhythms and variations, which the drummer sometimes can bring to a crescendo of intensity. There are six common types of drums falling within 3 styles (one faced. two faced, and flat faced):
Other instruments include:
Folk song traditions were taken to Australia by early settlers from England, Scotland and Ireland and gained particular foothold in the rural outback. The rhyming songs, poems and tales written in the form of bush ballads often relate to the itinerant and rebellious spirit of Australia in The Bush, and the authors and performers are often referred to as bush bards. The 19th century was the golden age of bush ballads. Several collectors have catalogued the songs including John Meredith whose recording in the 1950s became the basis of the collection in the National Library of Australia.
The songs tell personal stories of life in the wide open country of Australia. Typical subjects include mining, raising and droving cattle, sheep shearing, wanderings, war stories, the 1891 Australian shearers' strike, class conflicts between the landless working class and the squatters (landowners), and outlaws such as Ned Kelly, as well as love interests and more modern fare such as trucking. The most famous bush ballad is "Waltzing Matilda", which has been called "the unofficial national anthem of Australia."
Indigenous Australian music includes the music of Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, who are collectively called Indigenous Australians; it incorporates a variety of distinctive traditional music styles practiced by Indigenous Australian peoples, as well as a range of contemporary musical styles of and fusion with European traditions as interpreted and performed by indigenous Australian artists. Music has formed an integral part of the social, cultural and ceremonial observances of these peoples, down through the millennia of their individual and collective histories to the present day. The traditional forms include many aspects of performance and musical instrumentation unique to particular regions or Indigenous Australian groups. Equal elements of musical tradition are common through much of the Australian continent, and even beyond. The culture of the Torres Strait Islanders is related to that of adjacent parts of New Guinea and so their music is also related. Music is a vital part of Indigenous Australians' cultural maintenance.
Celtic music is a term used by artists, record companies, music stores and music magazines to describe a broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic peoples. These traditions include Irish, Scottish, Manx, Cornish, Welsh, Breton traditions. Asturian and galician music is often included, though there is no significant research showing that this has any close musical relationship. Brittany's Folk revival began in the 1950s with the "bagadoù" and the "kan-ha-diskan" before growing to world fame through Alan Stivell's work since the mid-1960s.
In Ireland, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (although its members were all Irish-born, the group became famous while based in New York's Greenwich Village), The Dubliners, Clannad, Planxty, The Chieftains, The Pogues, The Corrs, The Irish Rovers, and a variety of other folk bands have done much over the past few decades to revitalise and re-popularise Irish traditional music. These bands were rooted, to a greater or lesser extent, in a tradition of Irish music and benefited from the efforts of artists such as Seamus Ennis and Peter Kennedy.
In Scotland, The Corries, Silly Wizard, Capercaillie, Runrig, Jackie Leven, Julie Fowlis, Karine Polwart, Alasdair Roberts, Dick Gaughan, Wolfstone, Boys of the Lough, and The Silencers have keep Scottish folk vibrant and fresh by mixing traditional Scottsh and Gaelic folks songs with more contemporary genres. These artists have also been commercially successful in continental Europe and North America.
During the Communist era national folk dancing in the Eastern Bloc was actively promoted by the state. Dance troupes from Russia and Poland toured non-communist Europe from about 1937 to 1990. The Red Army Choir recorded many albums. Eastern Europe is also the origin of the Jewish Klezmer tradition.
The polka is a central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia. Polka is still a popular genre of folk music in many European countries and is performed by folk artists in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Slovakia. Local varieties of this dance are also found in the Nordic countries, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Latin America (especially Mexico), and in the United States.
German Volkslieder perpetuated by Liederhandschriften manuscripts like Carmina Burana date back to medieval Minnesang and Meistersinger traditions. Those folk songs revived in the late 18th century period of German Romanticism, first promoted by Johann Gottfried Herder and other advocates of the Enlightenment, later compiled by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano (Des Knaben Wunderhorn) as well as by Ludwig Uhland.
The Volksmusik and folk dances genre, especially in the Alpine regions of Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland (Kuhreihen) and South Tyrol, up to today has clinged on rustic communities against the backdrop of industrialisation—Low German shanties or the Wienerlied (Schrammelmusik) being notable exceptions. Slovene folk music in Upper Carniola and Styria also originated from the Alpine traditions. Traditional Volksmusik is not to be confused with commercial Volkstümliche Musik variations, strongly related to German Schlager music.
The Hungarian group Muzsikás played numerous American tours and participated in the Hollywood movie The English Patient while the singer Márta Sebestyén worked with the band Deep Forest. The Hungarian táncház movement, started in the 1970s, involves strong cooperation between musicology experts and enthusiastic amateurs. However, traditional Hungarian folk music and folk culture barely survived in some rural areas of Hungary, and it has also begun to disappear among the ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania. The táncház movement revived broader folk traditions of music, dance, and costume together and created a new kind of music club. The movement spread to ethnic Hungarian communities elsewhere in the world.
The Balkan folk music was influenced by the mingling of Balkan ethnic groups in the period of Ottoman Empire. It comprises the music of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Turkey, some of the historical states of Yugoslavia or the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and geographical regions such as Thrace. Some music is characterised by complex rhythm.
Nordic folk music includes a number of traditions in Northern European, especially Scandinavian, countries. The Nordic countries are generally taken to include Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Sometimes it is taken to include Greenland and historically the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The many regions of the Nordic countries share certain traditions, many of which have diverged significantly. It is possible to group together the Baltic states (or, sometimes, only Estonia) and parts of northwest Russia as sharing cultural similarities, contrasted with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Atlantic islands of, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Greenland's Inuit culture has its own musical traditions, influenced by Scandinavian culture. Finland shares many cultural similarities with both the Baltic nations and the Scandinavian nations. The Saami of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia have their own unique culture, with ties to the neighboring cultures.
Swedish folk music is a genre of music based largely on folkloric collection work that began in the early 19th century in Sweden. The primary instrument of Swedish folk music is the fiddle. Another common instrument, unique to Swedish traditions, is the nyckelharpa. Most Swedish instrumental folk music is dance music; the signature music and dance form within Swedish folk music is the polska. Vocal and instrumental traditions in Sweden have tended to share tunes historically, though they have been performed separately. Beginning with the folk music revival of the 1970s, vocalists and instrumentalists have also begun to perform together in folk music ensembles.
Andean music comes from the general area inhabited by Quechuas, Aymaras and other peoples that roughly in the area of the Inca Empire prior to European contact. It includes folklore music of parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. Andean music is popular to different degrees across Latin America, having its core public in rural areas and among indigenous populations. The Nueva Canción movement of the 1970s revived the genre across Latin America and bought it to places where it was unknown or forgotten.
Nueva canción (Spanish for 'new song') is a movement and genre within Latin American and Iberian music of folk music, folk-inspired music and socially committed music. It some respects its development and role is similar to the second folk music revival. This includes evolution of this new genre from traditional folk music, essentially contemporary folk music except that that English genre term is not commonly applied to it. Nueva cancion is recognized as having played a powerful role in the social upheavals in Portugal, Spain and Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s.
Nueva cancion first surfaced during the 1960s as "The Chilean New Song" in Chile. The musical style emerged shortly afterwards in Spain and other areas of Latin America where it came to be known under similar names. Nueva canción renewed traditional Latin American folk music, and was soon associated with revolutionary movements, the Latin American New Left, Liberation Theology, hippie and human rights movements due to political lyrics. It would gain great popularity throughout Latin America, and is regarded as a precursor to Rock en español.
Trova and Son are styles of traditional Cuban music originating in the province of Oriente that includes influences from Spanish song and dance such as Bolero and contradanza as well as Afro-Cuban rhythm and percussion elements.
Moda de viola is the name designed to Brazilian folk music. Is often performed with a 6-string nylon acoustic guitar, but the most traditional instrument is the viola caipira. The songs basically detailed the hardness of life of those who work in the country. The themes are usually associated with the land, animals, folklore, impossible love and separation. Although there are some upbeat songs, most of them are nostalgic and melancholic.
Canada's traditional folk music is particularly diverse. Even prior to liberalizing its immigration laws in the 1960s, Canada was ethnically diverse with dozens of different Indigenous and European groups present. In terms of music, academics do not speak of a Canadian tradition, but rather ethnic traditions (Acadian music, Irish-Canadian music, Blackfoot music, Innu music, Inuit music, Métis fiddle, etc.) and later in Eastern Canada regional traditions (Newfoundland music, Cape Breton fiddling, Quebecois music, etc.)
Traditional folk music of European origin has been present in Canada since the arrival of the first French and British settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries....They fished the coastal waters and farmed the shores of what became Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the St Lawrence River valley of Quebec.
The fur trade and its voyageurs brought this farther north and west into Canada; later lumbering operations and lumberjacks continued this process.
Agrarian settlement in eastern and southern Ontario and western Quebec in the early 19th century established a favorable milieu for the survival of many Anglo-Canadian folksongs and broadside ballads from Great Britain and the US. Despite massive industrialization, folk music traditions have persisted in many areas until today. In the north of Ontario, a large Franco-Ontarian population kept folk music of French origin alive.
Populous Acadian communities in the Atlantic provinces contributed their song variants to the huge corpus of folk music of French origin centred in the province of Quebec. A rich source of Anglo-Canadian folk music can be found in the Atlantic region, especially Newfoundland. Completing this mosaic of musical folklore is the Gaelic music of Scottish settlements, particularly in Cape Breton, and the hundreds of Irish songs whose presence in eastern Canada dates from the Irish famine of the 1840s, which forced the large migrations of Irish to North America.
"Knowledge of the history of Canada", wrote Isabelle Mills in 1974, "is essential in understanding the mosaic of Canadian folk song. Part of this mosaic is supplied by the folk songs of Canada brought by European and Anglo-Saxon settlers to the new land." She describes how the French colony at Québec brought French immigrants, followed before long by waves of immigrants from Great Britain, Germany, and other European countries, all bringing music from their homelands, some of which survives into the present day. Ethnographer and folklorist Marius Barbeau estimated that well over ten thousand French folk songs and their variants had been collected in Canada. Many of the older ones had by then died out in France.
Music as professionalized paid entertainment grew relatively slowly in Canada, especially remote rural areas, through the 19th and early 20th centuries. While in urban music clubs of the dance hall/vaudville variety became popular, followed by jazz, rural Canada remained mostly a land of traditional music. Yet when American radio networks began broadcasting into Canada in the 1920s and 1930s, the audience for Canadian traditional music progressively declined in favour of American Nashville-style country music and urban styles like jazz. The Americanization of Canadian music led the Canadian Radio League to lobby for a national public broadcaster in the 1930s, eventually leading to the creation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1936. The CBC promoted Canadian music, including traditional music, on its radio and later television services, but the mid-century craze for all things "modern" led to the decline of folk music relative to rock and pop. Canada was however influenced by the folk music revival of the 1960s.
American traditional music is also called roots music. Roots music is a broad category of music including bluegrass, country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered American either because it is native to the United States or because it developed there, out of foreign origins, to such a degree that it struck musicologists as something distinctly new. It is considered "roots music" because it served as the basis of music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, contemporary folk music, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Some of these genres are considered to be traditional folk music.
Sacred music, both a capella and instrumentally accompanied, is at the heart of the tradition. Early spirituals framed Christian beliefs within native practices and were heavily influenced by the music and rhythms of Africa." Spirituals are prominent, and often use a call and response pattern. "Gospel developed after the Civil War (1861–65). It relied on biblical text for much of its direction, and the use of metaphors and imagery was common. Gospel is a "joyful noise," sometimes accompanied by instrumentation and almost always punctuated by hand clapping, toe tapping, and body movement." "Shape-note or sacred harp singing developed in the early 19th century as a way for itinerant singing instructors to teach church songs in rural communities. They taught using song books in which musical notations of tones were represented by geometric shapes that were designed to associate a shape with its pitch. Sacred harp singing became popular in many Oklahoma rural communities, regardless of ethnicity." Later the blues tradition developed, with roots in and parallels to sacred music. Then jazz developed, born from a blend of "blend of ragtime, gospel, and blues"
Anglo-Scots-Irish music traditions gained a place in Oklahoma after the Land Run of 1889. Because of its size and portability, the fiddle was the core of early Oklahoma Anglo music, but other instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, banjo, and steel guitar were added later. Various Oklahoma music traditions trace their roots to the British Isles, including cowboy ballads, western swing, and contemporary country and western." "Mexican immigrants began to reach Oklahoma in the 1870s, bringing beautiful canciones and corridos love songs, waltzes, and ballads along with them. Like American Indian communities, each rite of passage in Hispanic communities is accompanied by traditional music. The acoustic guitar, string bass, and violin provide the basic instrumentation for Mexican music, with maracas, flute, horns, or sometimes accordion filling out the sound."
Other Europeans (such as Bohemians and Germans) settled in the late 19th century. Their social activities centered on community halls, "where local musicians played polkas and waltzes on the accordion, piano, and brass instruments." Later Asians contributed to the musical mix. "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"
"Folk music revival" refers to either a period of renewed interest in traditional folk music, or to an event or period which transforms it; the latter usually includes a social activism component. A prominent example of the former is the British folk revival of approximately 1890–1920. The most prominent and influential example of the latter (to the extent that it is usually called "the folk music revival") is the folk revival of the mid 20th century, centered in the English-speaking world which gave birth to contemporary folk music. See the "Contemporary folk music" article for a description of this revival.
One earlier revival influenced western classical music. Such composers as Percy Grainger, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Béla Bartók, made field recordings or transcriptions of folk singers and musicians.
In Spain, Isaac Albéniz (1860–1909) produced piano works reflect his Spanish heritage, including the Suite Iberia (1906–1909). Enrique Granados (1867–1918) composed zarzuela, Spanish light opera, and Danzas Españolas - Spanish Dances. Manuel de Falla (1876–1946) became interested in the cante jondo of Andalusian flamenco, the influence of which can be strongly felt in many of his works, which include Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Siete canciones populares españolas ("Seven Spanish Folksongs", for voice and piano). Composers such as Fernando Sor and Francisco Tarrega established the guitar as Spain's national instrument. Modern Spanish folk artists abound (Mil i Maria, Russian Red, et al.) modernizing while respecting the traditions of their forebears.
Flamenco grew in popularity through the 20th century, as did northern styles such as the Celtic music of Galicia. French classical composers, from Bizet to Ravel, also drew upon Spanish themes, and distinctive Spanish genres became universally recognized.
Folk music revivals or roots revivals also encompass a range of phenomena around the world where there is a renewed interest in traditional music. This is often by the young, often in the traditional music of their own country, and often included new incorporation of social awareness, causes, and evolutions of new music in the same style. Nueva canción, a similar evolution of a new form of socially committed music occurred in several Spanish speaking countries.
The "first" British folk revival was a roots revival which occurred approximately 1890–1920 and was marked by heightened interest in traditional music and its preservation. It arose from earlier developments, perhaps combined with changes in the nature of British identity, led to a much more intensive and academic attempt to record what was seen as a vanishing tradition, and is now usually referred to as the first English or British folk revival.
See main article: Contemporary folk
The National Folk Festival (USA) is an itinerant folk festival in the United States. Since 1934, it has been run by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) and has been presented in 26 communities around the nation. After leaving some of these communities, the National Folk Festival has spun off several locally run folk festivals in its wake including the Lowell Folk Festival, the Richmond Folk Festival, the American Folk Festival and, most recently, the Montana Folk Festival.
The National Folk Festival is Australia’s premier folk festival event and is attended by over 50,000 people.
The four-day Philadelphia Folk Festival began in 1962. It is sponsored by the non-profit Philadelphia Folksong Society. The event hosts contemporary and traditional artists in genres including World/Fusion, Celtic, Singer/Songwriter, Folk Rock, Country, Klezmer, and Dance. It is held annually on the third weekend in August. The event now hosts approximately 12,000 visitors, presenting bands on 6 stages.
The Newport Folk Festival is an annual folk festival held near Newport, Rhode Island. It ran most year from 1959 to 1970, and 1985 to the present, with an attendance of approximately 10,000 persons.
It is sometimes claimed that the earliest folk festival was the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, 1928, in Asheville, North Carolina, founded by Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Sidmouth Festival began in 1954, and Cambridge Folk Festival began in 1965. The Cambridge Folk Festival in Cambridge, England is noted for having a very wide definition of who can be invited as folk musicians. The "club tents" allow attendees to discover large numbers of unknown artists, who, for ten or 15 minutes each, present their work to the festival audience.
Stan Rogers is a lasting fixture of the Canadian folk festival Summerfolk, held annually in Owen Sound, Ontario, where the main stage and amphitheater are dedicated as the "Stan Rogers Memorial Canopy". The festival is firmly fixed in tradition, with Rogers' song "The Mary Ellen Carter" being sung by all involved, including the audience and a medley of acts at the festival.
The Canmore Folk Music Festival is Alberta's longest running folk music festival. The Feast of the Hunters' Moon in Indiana draws approximately 60,000 visitors per year.
Folk music is popular among some audiences today, with folk music clubs meeting to share traditional-style songs, and there are major folk music festivals in many countries, e.g. the Woodford Folk Festival, National Folk Festival and Port Fairy Folk Festival are amongst Australia's largest major annual events, attracting top international folk performers as well as many local artists.
Urkult Näsåker, Ångermanland held August each year is purportedly Sweden's largest world-music festival.
These references are cited above with multiple abbreviated cites with varying locations.
(does not include those used as references)
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