A Review of "Folk Music: An African-American Creation"

By: Nyla Griffith

Folk music began hundreds of years ago as a result of the oppression that African Americans faced during slavery. “Folk Music: An African American Creation” by Kyana Martinez (2019) articulates the details of the origins of folk music by African Americans. While this article effectively describes how and when folk music came to be, it fails to give the details of the various types of folk music and their meanings. 

The article describes folk music as a story about “personal and societal struggles”. Martinez describes how folk music originated in a time when blacks were seen as less human. It explains the various instruments used in folk music as well as the “call and response” element of work songs. In addition, the article compares the sound and artists of old folk music and new folk music. 

In my opinion, this article is missing many key elements of folk music. It explains when folk music originated, but it doesn’t explain that folk music was the African Americans’ way of remaining empowered and persevering. It also doesn’t go into enough detail of the elements of folk music: djembe, pattin jumba, banjo, ring shout, washboard, and call and response. The author compares old and new folk music but doesn’t explain that new folk music is missing the motivation of struggle and cultural indifference. 

Moreover, for the average person looking for information on folk music, this article wouldn’t provide enough basic knowledge to clearly understand how and why folk music came to be. 


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