Discovering Folk Music on Your Own

Folk tunes, unlike many modern styles, tend to be accessible and easy for anyone to learn by ear or memorize off the top of their heads – perfect for singing along with both friends and strangers alike!

As much as it’s possible to enjoy folk music without prior musical training, learning an instrument or singing is even better. A good place to begin would be searching for folk song and dance classes in your area.

What is folk music?

Folk music is a genre that represents the traditions and cultural beliefs of a specific culture, often handed down through oral tradition from generation to generation and focused around storytelling and spiritual elements. Folk music typically utilizes traditional instruments such as fiddles, bagpipes, harps or flutes.

At the height of folk revival in the 1960s, artists like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and The Kingston Trio kept folk alive by introducing new songs to a wider audience. There are different definitions of what constitutes folk music: some believe any song with traditional themes and styles can qualify, while others limit inclusion to songs written and originally performed by professional musicians.

Rivka Maizlish is an American folk music scholar who studies its relationship to history. She earned her PhD in history at Cornell and now works as Woody Guthrie Center Fellow; joining WPR recently to discuss her work and what defines “folk music”.

Maizlish notes that “folk music” is not an exclusive category, as it encompasses many subgenres and genres. She holds that its roots date back millennia; today you can find this form of expression throughout the world in many cultures; from epic songs and sea shanties in Finland to polka in Czech Republic and zouk music in Africa – every culture has their own version of folk music that they call their own.

She notes that folk music can be political and social in nature. For instance, many folk musicians advocate for environmental causes, peacekeeping missions, labor unions and racial equality – in addition to singing about personal experiences to connect with their audiences.

Maizlish stresses the significance of understanding the distinction between traditional and contemporary folk music. She notes that traditional folk is timeless while contemporary forms are constantly adapting and changing with popular and rock influences; much of contemporary folk is still deeply rooted in traditional styles; its development makes folk music fascinating for many today.

Why should I listen to folk music?

Folk music can encapsulate many themes related to human experience, from love, loss, and social injustice, while reflecting a community’s cultural history and heritage. Therefore, people often listen to this type of music when looking to connect with their culture and heritage through listening acoustic versions that create intimacy and authenticity for listeners.

Folk music has an indefinable quality that appeals to audiences worldwide, while streaming platforms have made it easier for folk musicians to reach an international audience and revitalize the popularity of folk music while offering new artists the chance to explore it further.

Folk music should be enjoyed as it provides an ideal way to connect with one’s cultural roots and history. Folk songs convey stories about joys and sorrows of daily life and can help people gain a better understanding of themselves and the world they inhabit.

Folk music can also help connect you to your spiritual side. Like meditation, folk music provides a means of relaxing your body and mind to focus on all three parts. Additionally, folk music provides relief for stress and anxiety as well as connecting you with nature.

Listening to folk music can also help develop an increased appreciation of other cultures, since its songs often span diverse geographic regions and communities. Furthermore, it can serve as an avenue to spread social awareness – for instance some artists use folk music to bring attention to refugee and immigrant struggles through song.

Folk music can provide an effective escape from everyday stressors and distractions. By listening to it, you can focus on yourself and express yourself more freely while simultaneously learning about other cultures’ traditions and customs.

Where can I find folk music?

If you’re keen on discovering new folk music online, there are numerous sites you can turn to. Most feature modern indie folk artists while some also showcase classic folk musicians from years gone by. Additionally, some sites feature podcasts which can be enjoyed across various devices – mobile phones and tablets included!

There are also various websites dedicated to folk music and its history, providing articles, interviews and other forms of media which can provide additional insight into this genre of music. Some sites are free for users while others require subscription fees in order to access their content.

One of the most well-known websites dedicated to folk music is The Session. This website showcases traditional Irish songs with scores and information about its history as a great resource for those wanting to know more. Updates occur regularly on this site which offers great access for people seeking knowledge in this genre of music.

Another excellent place to find folk music is BBC’s Radio 4 website, with podcasts and radio shows covering various topics – not only traditional folk but also bluegrass and acoustic blues genres of music can be found there!

There are also websites dedicated to folk music from specific regions. Often curated by experts, these sites provide a wealth of information about this genre as well as providing opportunities to purchase independent artists’ albums directly through them.

Mike will present an eclectic array of beautiful folk and acoustic music; from its early recordings to modern releases. Melodeon players, singer-songwriters, protest songs and ballads; travellers and dreamers all feature. Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention Joan Baez Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger all make appearances – as do today’s best folk musicians like James Rees.

What are the common elements of folk music?

Folk music tends to be extremely straightforward musically, focusing on vocal melody and lyrics as the focus. It typically does not require accompaniment (although instrumental sections aren’t uncommon either); additionally, most folk songs are performed without notation for notation purposes, resulting in many variations on one basic tune! One common feature is ornamentation such as acciaccaturas, rolls and chromatic flashes (fleeting notes played before main note in melody) giving tune a distinct folk sound and creating interesting harmonies and rhythms between songs!

Folk songs are frequently associated with specific cultural or geographic communities and serve to both commemorate and preserve their heritage and identity. Their traditional themes often revolve around love, work and survival – these may also serve as protest songs or environmental awareness songs.

Folk music has historically been handed down through generations orally and can thus encompass a vast variety of genres and styles from around the globe. Furthermore, its inclusive nature means it often includes singing as well as instruments from multiple traditions.

Folk music in modern society has become more influenced by popular culture than ever, inspiring many artists and their works. One such artist who draws inspiration from folk music is Bob Dylan who was an avid follower of Woody Guthrie (an American folk singer who popularised traditional folk tunes). One such song that utilizes this trend is his song ‘This Land Is Your Land’ where repeated sections of music with different lyrics each time are repeated throughout.

Led Zeppelin provides another prime example, by incorporating elements of folk music into their own musical style and producing what has come to be known as roots rock or folk rock – a genre which incorporates more electric instrumentation while maintaining traditional chord progressions and melodies.