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Folk Music History

It was the year 1846 and an English antiquarian, William Thomas was in search of a term to describe the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes which led to the formation of the word folk lore.

About half a century earlier in Germany, Johann Gottfried Herder and other romantics used the expression Volk which was used to describe the people as a whole and applied it to popular and national music. The expression folk music which we hear today attributes its existence to these illustrations.


Well, the existence of folk music can even be traced up to human prehistory. It is believed that during the time when economic production was carried out manually, it was folk music that replaced boredom with pleasure and synchronised the work.

There were no signs of recorded music and entertainment meant Folk music, playing musical instruments and dancing. May it be farming or manufacturing, there was folk music and unknown folk musicians and composers.

When it comes to folk instruments which include percussion instruments, flutes, bow and trumpet, today there are about 75 instruments. Folk musical instruments were made from wood or metal.


Instruments such as Accordion, Cavaquinho, Ektara, Gudok, Kobza, Jew'sHarp, Harmonica, Mridangam, Melodeon, Ocarina, Shofar, Sopilka, Oud, Vuvuzela, Tin Whistle, Zurna, Gusle, Dholak, Banjo, Bandura, Bagpipe, Rhythm Bones, Bullroarer etc., are the folk instruments traced so far.

With regard to tradition folk music is divided into 6 categories keeping in mind, the ethnicity, race, religion, and tribe.

The first is the North, Central, South American and the Caribbean; the second being Asia; third Europe; fourth category is Middle East and North Africa; Oceania and Australia is the fifth category and sixth is Sub Saharan Africa.

The folk music from the 19th century onwards witnessed a large variety as far as the subject matter was concerned. When folk music based on war originated, anti-war folk songs came up as a sign of protest.

There were folk songs based on social events such as Christmas carols and Pub session. Folk music also had sub genres like filk music based on science fiction, folk punk, freak folk, industrial folk music, techno folk and Indie folk.

It is quite interesting that the song of commoners made musicians like Bob Dylan rise to popularity in 1964. A platform was given to upcoming artists when Harry Smith compiled the field recordings, country blues and the folk songs of the 20s and 30s.

What more could the world expect from folk music when Pete Seeger delivered the folk standards during the Melbourne concert. These events and much more made history in music and today it's time to cherish these moments created in music by folk music history.

This site covers all areas for Music History of the World.


Ottoman Empire History