Folk Music

Folk Music
A look into the history of folk music

Origin and Influences of Folk Music

Folk music first became known when Africans were forcefully brought to America by slave traders. Africans created folk music as a sense of community away from their home and into new territories. With different styles, rhythms, and instruments, Africans were able to display their emotions through the music. Folk music has became a huge influence on many different genres like today’s hip hop.

Elements of Folk Music

One main element of folk music is the instruments used to create the various sounds and rhythms. One main instrument is the djembe. The djembe was first used as a mean of communication within West Africa. The djembe was then used as a celebratory instrument which would create lively beats and rhythms which many enjoyed. Another instrument that influenced folk music was the banjo. When most think of the banjo, they believe that it was created by caucasian people. The banjo became the source of music after drums were banned.

Primary Composers/Performers of Folk Music

Folk music, unlikely other genres, can not be traced back to exactly one person who created it. Folk music was sung by slaves. Slaves would sing the songs while working  or to keep others entertained. One main folk music that most think of is Huddie Ledbetter or better know as “Lead Belly”.

Social Implications

The songs slaves would sing was a way to express how they felt. Folk music had many different emotions behind their words. Salves were able to express themselves through a rhythm rather just speaking. Folk music also was a source of communication for runaway slaves.


While folk music were enjoyed by the slaves, it was also being stolen from them. The slaveholders would take the lyrics and put them into books which they would sell for a profit. Slaves would then be forced to perform the songs for crowds as a form of entertainment. 


Overall, folk music is the bases of all genres. With the different rhythms and styles Africans would use, it became a way for us to enjoy music. Through folk music, slaves were able to express their sorrows and feelings which is present in current African-American music. Artist are known to put their emotions into songs. So without folk music, there wouldn’t be African-American music.

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