Folk music

From ArticleWorld

The popular and widely used definition of Folk music is music created by and for the common people.


Several definitions for folk music have been expressed and many are still accepted nowadays. Gene Shay considered it to be music rarely written with profit in mind. Oral tradition was considered the method of spreading it and the singers and artists didn’t need to be great musicians to sing folk music. The idea came opposed to classical music, where the artist needed much training to be able to play the complex and difficult pieces of music. Another popular belief stands in the fact that folk music appeared spontaneously from ordinary people communities. In 1980, Charles Seeger defined three criteria needed in folk music:

  1. The structure needs to include four musical types (tribal, art, folk and popular) and the genre is associated with the lower class
  2. Oral transmitting and continuity, needed as methods of keeping the music alive. Many people did not know how to write or read and this is why such a form of spreading the genre was needed.
  3. Simplicity and lack of difficult singing techniques needed.

Louis Armstrong and Big Bill Bronzy have been attributed a quotation saying that "All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song”.

The decline

Folk music eventually became less appreciated and nowadays only a few bands are still a part of the musical genre. Other types of music are a lot more popular. Any nation has its own folk music but as time passed and technology evolved other means of transmitting appeared. Because of it many characteristic folk music for one country may have been lost forever. Specialists have found three important stages in the decline of folk music:

  1. Urban Influence – Printing brought the possibility of musical spreading. Broadsheet ballads that were created in England presented the first step of Urban Influence.
  2. Popular music’s popularity – Folk music was eventually replaced by popular music. The Industrial Revolution brought lifestyle changes and the eventual appearance of LPs and CDs created the needed environment for profit and a disregard towards folk music.
  3. Ability loss – As time passed it brought a loss in popularity. Folk music became to be less passed from generation to generation and even from one individual to the other. People started to not sing anymore and the reason behind it can be considered the wide spread of popular music.