What is folk music? (informal)


Music is an art form whose medium is sound organized in time. Common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike), "(art) of the Muses".

We have to speak about classical music (with curch music), popular music (with clasical jazz) and folk music (with traditional and tribal music)


English Folk "people" is derived from a Germanic noun *fulka meaning "people" or "army" (i.e. a crowd as opposed to "a people" in a more abstract sense of clan or tribe). The English word folk has cognates in most of the other Germanic languages. Folk may be a Germanic root that is unique to the Germanic languages, although Latin vulgus, "the common people", has been suggested as a possible cognate.

What is folk music?

Gene Shay, co-founder and host of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, defined folk music in an April 2003 interview by saying: "In the strictest sense, it's music that is rarely written for profit. It's music that has endured and been passed down by oral tradition. Also, what distinguishes folk music is that it is participatory—you don't have to be a great musician to be a folk singer. And finally, it brings a sense of community. It's the people's music."

Charles Seeger (1980) describes three contemporary defining criteria of folk music:

1. A "schema comprising four musical types: 'primitive' or 'tribal'; 'elite' or 'art'; 'folk'; and 'popular'. Usually...folk music is associated with a lower class in societies which are culturally and socially stratified, that is, which have developed an elite, and possibly also a popular, musical culture." Cecil Sharp (1907)? A.L. Lloyd (1972)

2. "Cultural processes rather than abstract musical types...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'." Redfield (1947) and Dundes (1965).

3. Less prominent, "a rejection of rigid boundaries, preferring a conception, simply of varying practice within one field, that of 'music'."

Folk songs are commonly seen as songs that express something about a way of life that exists now or existed in the past or about to disappear (or in some cases, to be preserved or somehow revived). 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.

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