Folk- Let's Fiddle Around
I’ve always felt this genre (more so than others) as whimsical and free. It’s fun, serious, but not too serious, happy - but not always happy, and sometimes all in the same song! Often times, it tells a very literal story. Not that songs in the other genres don’t, but some older folk music literally tells what the lyricist is trying to say when it comes the words and sentences used. This is because of one simple reason – traditionally when the genre was created, the person creating the lyrics could not read or write. A lot of musical stories were passed down the generational line orally. Writers and composers utilize different techniques when telling those stories.
Two commonly used techniques are:
• Lyrics that tell you about the story in an abstract way. Using descriptive sentences and adjectives that give you some idea of what is going on, but not exactly. It gives the listener the opportunity to think and develop their own interpretation of what the song means.
• Another is literally telling you exactly what’s going on – word for word. It would be like taking a few paragraphs out of a book and singing the lines while playing an instrument. Often times, these types of songs do not rhyme however, there are others that do rhyme. So it’s a little of both if that makes sense.
The dictionary describes folk music as – noun – music that originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style. Folk music is typically of unknown authorship and is transmitted orally from generation to generation.
The folk genre name came from the 1800’s word “folklore”. It described traditions and cultures from past civilizations or communities. Stories (true and untrue) passed down the line from family to family or community to community. It’s interesting to note that many early folk songs are considered “free domain” or “pubic domain” songs. Meaning there are no copyrights on the music so anyone can record their own version of the songs.
Folk, sometimes referred to as “a traditional” (mostly by musicians) is a fun way to play songs. A lot of times it’s can combine different genres mixed in, like country and bluegrass. Folk songs tend to have a lot of melody in them and easy to remember because of the repetitiveness of the lyrics. What’s cool about this genre is that every nation on earth has their own versions of folk songs that go way back into their histories. If it’s one genre that could be called “the family tree” it would probably be folk. Folk started to gain popularity in the 1930’s when they started recording various artists singing and playing this type of music. The 1960’s era is widely considered the time where folk music solidified itself as a genre.