The Different Kinds of Folk Music

For people that do not understand or enjoy folk music they pool all different types of this very varied style of music into one pot. But they could not be more wrong, if anything folk music has more variations than any other type of music. So how do you define folk music if it has so many strands to it? This is the very question we hope to solve.

What is Folk Music?

What is Folk Music?
What is Folk Music?

What defines folk music changes from person to person and quite often it defines the people from the country that it originates from. Often folk music is passed down from generation to generation and tells the history of a country and their people. Rather then been written down often folk music is learned by singing in the fields or other peasant related work. Folk music is the music of the ordinary people, and that is the beauty of it.

Despite its humble beginnings, folk music often breaks into the mainstream charts and is commercially popular. Taking American folk music as the example folk music was understood as the traditional music of America.  And communicated the hopes, dreams, sorrows of the working-class. And there are many examples sung in churches, at barbecues, at family pick-nicks, and many other communities get togethers. Often the songs are not credited to any one composer as nobody really knows who wrote them.

How Folk Music is Passed On

In many communities around the world folk music is passed on from generation to generation simply by listening and memorizing the words and tune. This is where variations of the same song originate from place to place. And as time progresses the melody and words slightly change as different singers reinterpret them. Sometimes the songs change simply because the singer cannot remember the words or the melody. But folk music embraces the changes and actually value new editions as a way of keeping the music fresh and current, it is a story that never ends.

American Folk Music

American Folk Music
American Folk Music

America as a nation was forged by immigrants and folk music was no different. The inspiration of American folk music came from the European and African settlers, and they produced different kinds of melodies and styles. And because the white immigrants mixed with the free slaves there was a type of fusion of styles in some areas. In the northeast of America folk music was a combination of British songs and hymns but with African flourishes. But in the deep south of the country it was traditional African music that formed the basis of a completely different kind of folk music. This type of folk music was often referred to as roots music.

The Different Types of Folk Music

Folk music covers a wide spectrum of types and styles of songs, so it cannot ever be defined as one thing. There are narrative ballads, lyric music, work songs, children’s songs, sea shanties, protest songs, rally songs, and even dance music. Folk music is about life, history, struggle and above all people.