What’s your favorite type of music? Do you like music with a snappy beat that you can dance to? Or is loud rock and roll more your style? Maybe you like the lyrical wordplay of modern rap and hip-hop music.
Do we have any Wonder Friends out there who enjoy folk music? For today’s children, the words “folk music” might conjure up images of acoustic guitars and soft, quiet music that their parents would enjoy. In reality, though, folk music is so much more than that!
Folk music can refer to both traditional types of music and the modern notion of folk music that arose during the 1960s in the United States. Traditional folk music has been around as long as music itself, but the term “folk music” wasn’t really used until the 1800s.
Traditional folk music — sometimes called world music — can be hard to define, but there are several common characteristics that help define the genre. Traditional folk music can usually be thought of as old music by unknown composers that has been passed along orally for generations by the poor, working class.
You might think of traditional folk music as the music of the common people. It tells the stories of the common people in language they can understand. It bonds people together in a way that has more to do with culture and history than entertainment.
In the 1960s in the United States, a folk music revival occurred. During this time, a new style of folk music — sometimes called contemporary folk music — developed. Contemporary folk music was defined by a focus on acoustic instruments and meaningful, thoughtful lyrics that reflected the social changes taking place at the time.
While contemporary folk music is a more recent development from the United States, traditional folk music can be found all over the world. Just about every society has its own cultures and traditions expressed in the form of folk art — whether it be folk music, folk dance or folk tales.
The word “folk” traditionally refers to the customs and traditions that are passed down through the generations by the common people (“folk”). Because these customs and traditions can vary widely from country to country, folk music from one country might sound completely different from folk music from another country.
Unlike the contemporary folk music from 1960s America, traditional folk music from an African country, for example, might feature tribal drums and rhythms that sound somewhat like modern dance music. So don’t assume all folk music sounds alike!