The International Folk music Council (founded in 1947) (present name is International Council of Traditional Music Kodaly was it’s president since 1964) attempted at its congress in Sao Paolo (1955) to give a definiton that would meet the needs of its international membership as follows:
Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of transmisson. The facors that shape the tradition are
continuity that links the presetnt with the past
variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group
selection by the community which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.
Bela Bartok 1924:
The term „Peasant music” connotes broadly speaking, all the tunes which endure among the peasant class of any nation, in more or less wide area and for a more or less long period, and constitute a spontaneous expression of the musical feeling of thet class. (The very definiton of peasant music is elastic.)
It should be admitted that practically every recent European peasant music known to-day arose under the influance of some kind of „national” or „popular” art music.
Taken in a narrower sense, the term: peasant music connotes the totality of the peasant tunes exemplifying one or several more or less homogenous styles. So that in this narrower sense, peasant music is the outcome of changes wrought by a natural force whose operation is unconscious, it is impulsively created by a community of man who have had no schooling, it is as much a natural product as are the various forms of animal and vegetable life. For this reason, the individuals of which it consists – the single tunes – are so many examples of high artistic perfection. In their small way, they are as perfect as the grandest masterpieces of musical art.
They are, indeed, classical models of the way in which a musical idea can be expressed in all its freshness and shapeliness – in short, int he very best possible way, int he briefest possible form and with the simplest of means. Ont he other hand, the favourite national or popular art songs of the ruling classes contain, besides a few interesting tunes, so many musical commonplaces, that their value remains far lesser than that of peasant music int he narrower sense of term.