Folk Music Essay Topic

This article is about traditional, non-commercial folk music. For the 20th-century style associated with a wide variety of subgenres, see Contemporary folk music.

"Folk Songs" and "Folksinger" redirect here. For other uses, see Folk Songs (disambiguation) and Folksinger (disambiguation).

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 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, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles.

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.[1] 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 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.

Traditional folk music[edit]

Definitions[edit]

A consistent definition of traditional folk music is elusive.[2] 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".[3] 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 Herder and the German Romantics over half a century earlier.[4] Traditional folk music also includes most indigenous music.[2]

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.[5][2] Some do not even agree that the term Folk Music should be used.[2] Folk music may tend to have certain characteristics[3] but it cannot clearly be differentiated in purely musical terms. One meaning often given is that of "old songs, with no known composers",[6] 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".[7]

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'".[8] One widely used definition is simply "Folk music is what the people sing".[9]

For Scholes,[3] as well as for Cecil Sharp and Béla Bartók,[10] 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)",[11] particularly in "a community uninfluenced by art music"[7] and by commercial and printed song. Lloyd rejected this in favour of a simple distinction of economic class[10] yet for him true folk music was, in Charles Seeger's words, "associated with a lower class"[12] 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'".[13]

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 the terms "traditional music" and "traditional folk" for folk music that is not contemporary folk music.[citation needed]

Characteristics[edit]

From a historical perspective, traditional folk music had these characteristics:[12][verification needed]

  • It was transmitted through an oral tradition. Before the 20th century, ordinary farm workers and factory workers were usually illiterate. They acquired songs by memorizing them. Primarily, this was not mediated by books, recorded or transmitted media. Singers may extend their repertoire using broadsheets, or song books, but these secondary enhancements are of the same character as the primary songs experienced in the flesh.
  • The music was often related to national culture. It was culturally particular; from a particular region or culture. In the context of an immigrant group, folk music acquires an extra dimension for social cohesion. It is particularly conspicuous in immigrant societies, where Greek Australians, Somali Americans, Punjabi Canadians, and others strive to emphasize their differences from the mainstream. They learn songs and dances that originate in the countries their grandparents came from.
  • They commemorate historical and personal events. On certain days of the year, such as Easter, May Day, and Christmas, particular songs celebrate the yearly cycle. Weddings, birthdays, and funerals may also be noted with songs, dances and special costumes. Religious festivals often have a folk music component. Choral music at these events brings children and non-professional singers to participate in a public arena, giving an emotional bonding that is unrelated to the aesthetic qualities of the music.
  • The songs have been performed, by custom, over a long period of time, usually several generations.

As a side-effect, the following characteristics are sometimes present:

  • There is no copyright on the songs. Hundreds of folk songs from the 19th century have known authors but have continued in oral tradition to the point where they are considered traditional for purposes of music publishing. This has become much less frequent since the 1940s. Today, almost every folk song that is recorded is credited with an arranger.
  • Fusion of cultures: Because cultures interact and change over time, traditional songs evolving over time may incorporate and reflect influences from disparate cultures. The relevant factors may include instrumentation, tunings, voicings, phrasing, subject matter, and even production methods.

Terminology[edit]

Tune[edit]

In folk music, a tune is a short instrumentalpiece, 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. America's Musical Landscape says "the most common form for tunes in folk music is AABB, also known as binary form".[citation needed]

In some traditions, tunes may be strung together in medleys or "sets".

Origins[edit]

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, as well as during religious activities. 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.[14]

Some believe that folk music originated as art music that was changed and probably debased by oral transmission, while reflecting the character of the society that produced it.[3] In many societies, especially preliterate ones, the cultural transmission of folk music requires learning by ear, although notation has evolved in some cultures. Different cultures may have different notions concerning a division between "folk" music on the one hand and of "art" and "court" music on the other. 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.[3] The distinction between "authentic" folk and national and popular song in general has always been loose, particularly in America and Germany[3] – for example popular songwriters such as Stephen Foster could be termed "folk" in America.[3][15] 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."[16]

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": newly composed songs, fixed in form and by known authors, which imitated some form of traditional 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 songwriters, 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.[6]

Subject matter[edit]

Traditional folk music often includes sung words, although folk instrumental music occurs commonly in dance music traditions. 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, repetitive elements, and their frequent in medias res plot developments. Other forms of traditional narrative verse relate the outcomes of battles or describe tragedies or natural disasters.

Sometimes, as in the triumphant Song of Deborah found in the BiblicalBook 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 or 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, as do Western Christmas carols and similar traditional songs.

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 oral tradition preserves jody calls ("Duckworth chants") which are sung while soldiers are on the march. Professional sailors made similar 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 used to amuse or quiet children also are frequent subjects of traditional songs.

Folk song transformations and variations[edit]

See also: List of folk music traditions

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.[17] 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.[original research?]

Because variants proliferate naturally, it is naïve 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. Many versions can lay an equal claim to authenticity.

The influential folklorist Cecil Sharp felt that these competing variants of a traditional song would undergo a process of improvement 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.

Literary interest in the popular ballad form dates back at least 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.

Regional forms[edit]

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. The process is most advanced "where industrialization and commercialisation of culture are most advanced"[18] but also occurs more gradually even in settings of lower technological advancement. However, the loss of traditional music is slowed in nations or regions where traditional folk music is a badge of cultural or national identity, for instance in the case of Bangladesh, Hungary, India, Ireland, Pakistan, Scotland, Latvia, Turkey, Portugal, Brittany, Galicia, Greece and Crete. Tourism revenue can provide a potent incentive to preserve local cultural distinctives. Local government often sponsors and promotes performances during tourist seasons, and revives lost traditions.[citation needed]

Early folk music, fieldwork and scholarship[edit]

Much of what is known about folk music prior to the development of audio recording technology in the 19th century comes from fieldwork and writings of scholars, collectors and proponents.[citation needed]

19th-century Europe[edit]

Starting in the 19th century, academics and amateur scholars, taking note of the musical traditions being lost, initiated various efforts to preserve the music of the people. One 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), some of which predated the 16th century.[9]

Contemporaneously with Child, the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould and later Cecil Sharp worked 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 campaigned with some success to have English traditional songs (in his own heavily edited and expurgated versions) to be taught to school children in hopes of reviving and prolonging the popularity of those songs. 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.[citation needed]

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 1894 and 1915 published six volumes that included 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.[original research?]

Around this time, composers of classical music developed a strong interest in collecting traditional songs, and a number of outstanding composers carried out their own field work on traditional music. 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.[citation needed]

North America[edit]

The advent of audio recording technology provided folklorists with a revolutionary tool to preserve vanishing musical forms. The earliest American folk music 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.[19] 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.[20] 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. Cecil 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.[21] Campbell and Sharp are represented under other names by actors in the modern movie Songcatcher.

One strong theme amongst folk scholars in the early decades of the 20th century was regionalism, the analysis of the diversity of folk music (and related cultures) based on regions of the US rather than based on a given song's historical roots. Later, a dynamic of class and circumstances was added to this.[22] 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".[23]

Prior to the 1930s, the study of folk music was primarily the province of 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.[24] 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.[24] Two related developments were the U.S. Communist Party's interest in folk music as a way to reach and influence Americans,[25] and politically active prominent folk musicians and scholars seeing communism as a possible better system, through the lens of the Great Depression.[26]Woody Guthrie exemplifies songwriters and artists with such an outlook.

Folk music festivals proliferated during the 1930s.[27]President Franklin Roosevelt was a fan of folk music, hosted folk concerts at the White House, and often patronized folk festivals.[28] One prominent festival was Sarah Gertrude Knott's National Folk Festival, established in St. Louis, Missouri in 1934.[29] Under the sponsorship of the Washington Post, the festival was held in Washington, DC at Constitution Hall from 1937–1942.[30] The folk music movement, festivals, and the wartime effort were seen as forces for social goods such as democracy, cultural pluralism, and the removal of culture and race-based barriers.[31]

The American folk music revivalists of the 1930s approached folk music in different ways.[32] Three primary schools of thought emerged: "Traditionalists" (e.g. Sarah Gertrude Knott and John Lomax) emphasized the preservation of songs as artifacts of deceased cultures. "Functional" folklorists (e.g. Botkin and Alan Lomax) maintained that songs only retain relevance when utilized by those cultures which retain the traditions which birthed those songs. "Left-wing" folk revivalists (e.g. Charles Seeger and Lawrence Gellert) emphasized music's role "in 'people's' struggles for social and political rights".[32] By the end of the 1930s these and others had turned American folk music into a social movement.[32]

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)[why?]

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.[33] 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.[34][35] This material from Alan Lomax’s independent archive, begun in 1946, which has been digitized and offered by the Association for Cultural Equity, 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"[34] at the library of Congress.

National and regional forms[edit]

Africa[edit]

Main article: Music of Africa

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.[36]

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, Cuban 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.

Asia[edit]

See also: Indian folk music, Iranian folk music, and Filipino folk 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.[citation needed] Khunung Eshei/Khuland Eshei is an ancient folk song[37] of Meiteis of Manipur who have maintained it for thousands of years.

Folk music of China[edit]

Further information: Music of China § Folk music, Shijing, and Yuefu

Archaeological discoveries date Chinese folk music back 7000 years; it is largely based on the pentatonic scale.

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 yunluogongs) 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.

Traditional folk music of Sri Lanka[edit]

Main article: Music of Sri Lanka

The genre of Sri Lankan music is known as Oriental music.[citation needed] The art, music and dances of Sri Lanka derives from the elements of nature, and have been enjoyed and developed in the Buddhist environment.[38] 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.[39][40][41][42] 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:

  • Mayura Wannama – The dance of the peacock
  • Hanuma Wannama – The dance of the monkey
  • Gajaga Wannama – The dance of the elephant

Musical types include:

  • Local drama music includes Kolam, Nadagam and Noorthy types. Kolam music is based on low country tunes primarily to accompany mask dance in exorcism rituals. It is considered less developed/evolved, true to the folk tradition and a preserving of a more ancient artform. It is limited to approximately 3–4 notes and is used by the ordinary people for pleasure and entertainment.
  • Nadagam music is a more developed form of drama influenced from South Indian street drama which was introduced by some south Indian Artists. Phillippu Singho from Negombo in 1824 Performed “Harishchandra Nadagama” in Hnguranketha which was originally written in Telingu language. Later “Maname”, “Sanda kinduru” and few others were introduced. Don Bastian of Dehiwala introduced Noorthy firstly by looking at Indian dramas and then John De Silva developed it as did Ramayanaya in 1886.
  • Sinhala light music is currently the most popular type of music in Sri Lanka and enriched with the influence of folk music, kolam music, nadagam music, noorthy music, film music, classical music, western music, and others. Some artists visited India to learn music and later started introducing light music. Ananda Samarakone was the pioneer of this and also composed the national anthem.

The classical Sinhalese Orchestra consists of five categories of instruments, but among the percussion instruments, the drum is essential for dance.[43] 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):

  • The typical Sinhala Dance is identified as the Kandyan dance and the Gatabera drum is indispensable to this dance.
  • Yak-bera is the demon drum or the, drum used in low country dance in which the dancers wear masks and perform devil dancing, which has become a highly developed form of art.
  • The Dawula is a barrel-shaped drum, and it was used as a companion drum in the past, to keep strict time with the beat.
  • The Thammattama is flat, two-faced drum. The drummer strikes the drum on the two surfaces on top with sticks, unlike the others where you drum on the sides. This is a companion drum to the afore mentioned Dawula.
  • A small double headed hand drum, used to accompany songs. It is mostly heard in the poetry dances (vannam).
  • The Rabana is a flat faced circular drum and comes in several sizes. The large Rabana has to be placed on the floor like a circular short-legged table and several people (especially the womenfolk) can sit around it and beat on it with both hands. This is used in festivals such as the Sinhalese New Year and ceremonies such as weddings. The resounding beat of the Rabana symbolizes the joyous moods of the occasion. The small Rabana is a form of mobile drum beat, since the player carries it wherever he goes.

Other instruments include:

  • The "Thalampata" – 2 small cymbals joined together by a string.
  • The wind section, is dominated by an instrument akin to the clarinet. This is not normally used for the dances. This is important to note because the Sinhalese dance is not set to music as the western world knows it; rhythm is king.
  • The flutes of metal such as silver & brass produce shrill music to accompany Kandyan Dances, while the plaintive strains of music of the reed flute may pierce the air in devil-dancing. The conch-shell (Hakgediya) is another form of a natural instrument, and the player blows it to announce the opening of ceremonies of grandeur.
  • The Ravanahatha (ravanhatta, rawanhattha, ravanastron or ravana hasta veena) is a bowed fiddle popular in Western India. It is believed to have originated among the Hela civilisation of Sri Lanka in the time of King Ravana. The bowl is made of cut coconut shell, the mouth of which is covered with goat hide. A dandi, made of bamboo, is attached to this shell. The principal strings are two: one of steel and the other of a set of horsehair. The long bow has jingle bells[44][45]

Australia[edit]

See also: Australian folk music and Indigenous Australian music

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.[46] 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.[46]

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.[47] The most famous bush ballad is "Waltzing Matilda", which has been called "the unofficial national anthem of Australia".[48]

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.[49]

Europe[edit]

See also: Folk music of England, French folk music, Greek folk music, Italian folk music, and Turkish folk music

Indians always distinguished between classical and folk music, though in the past even classical Indian music used to rely on the unwritten transmission of repertoire.
Korean traditional musicians
Naxi traditional musicians
Locations in Southern and Central Appalachia visited by the British folklorist Cecil Sharp in 1916 (blue), 1917 (green), and 1918 (red). Sharp sought "old world" English and Scottish ballads passed down to the region's inhabitants from their British ancestors. He collected hundreds of such ballads, the most productive areas being the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky.

Folk refers to the set of music associated with a national or regional traditional culture or geographical area. The three key concepts in the definition of folk music are therefore the geographical socio-cultural origins, transmission, and re-creation.

If you want to write a successful research paper on the topic you must know that Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) was one of the first scientists described folk music from a theoretical point of view. He, like other early explorers, emphasized the direct link between folk music and nature. In the 19th century, folk music was considered, if not “the music of nature, at least, natural, a natural music not prone to urban influences. The researchers then examined the following questions: is there a link between the classical and folk music, as well as whether the detected traces of the origin and forms of folk music in the language or movement.

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The greatest contribution to understanding folk music had the musical-ethnographic studies, conducted under the direction of the American philologist Francis James Child (1825-1896) in the UK and Hungarian composer and folklorist White Bartok (1825-1945) in the countries of Eastern Europe.

Traditional folk music, mostly created by rural population, for a long time maintains a relative autonomy and is generally opposed by professional music, which belongs to a younger, written tradition. However professionalism is characteristic not only of written musical traditions, the oral professional musical art originated in folk art as its organic part, including the people who did not have an independent, separated from folk professional art in the European sense of the term (i.e., Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Turkmen). There are also oral professional culture, as opposed to folk traditions (for example, the Indian Ragas, Iranian Dastgahi, and Arabic Maqam)

Modern folk music is performed as by educated professional musicians and amateurs. Technical progress and the media totally changed the way music is created, learnt, distributed, and used as by the musicians and audience. So it is different from the academic and popular music rather in its function than on the means of expression (it is performed rather for fun, it is not a main activity for the musician). In contrast to the traditional, the modern folk music is not exclusively acoustic.

Modern folk music involves adapting or styling. Adaptation generally represents folk poetry, set to new music (sometimes using modern tools, sometimes only using authentic). Styling is writing new pieces of music using traditional musical instruments, motives, and the way of performance.

Modern folk music, unlike pop music, is not aimed at the general public and commercial benefits. However, it has its commercial form, but this is more for the combination of folk and popular music. One of the first commercial styles of folk music was folk revival.

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