Folk Music

Origin

Folk music originated in the 19th century, when the enslaved Africans came over to the new land. It was a way to tell their story.Because they were forced to a new area without any of their original instruments, they had to be creative. It was a compilation of songs and music made while on the slave ships. Folk music was often referred to as music of the lower class.

Elements

Banjo

Djembe

"Call and Response"

Patting Juba

Story-Telling




Social Implications

Folk music was a means for communication for the slaves to secretly talk to each other. Most times they were used to keep the spirits high to help others continue working. But, they were also ways to discuss the planned escape without using words that would alert masters.

Influence

Popular Performers

Folk music has influence on almost every popular music genre, especially music of the Caribbean such as soca, calypso, and samba. Because of this, folk music is considered “roots music”. Genres such as blues, jazz, rock and roll, and even  hip hop can all trace its roots back to folk music. Most  of these genres talk about working through hard times or finding success through the struggle. It’s the reason why folk music was created- to tell a story.

  • Lead Belly
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Elizabeth Cotton
  • Odetta
  • Ma Rainey
  • Sweet Honey in the Rock

Summary Opinion

Before reading about this genre, I was foolishly taught that folk music was white originated. When I saw a banjo, I instantly thought of a red-neck playing on their front porch.  We were the originators, but we allowed the whites to take control of yet another genre, receiving no credit at all. It’s very disappointing the way Black artists allow others to take over their work because they want everyone to be included and be accepted by them.