What Folk Music Gave Us

For the black community, folk music is the origin of music in the United States. Folk music gave birth to and made ways for the music we know and love today such as beat boxing and storytelling. Folk music was started as a result of African Americans carrying over their traditions, instruments, and singing during the years of slavery. 

The Beat: Slap & Clap

Folk music gave us the hambone. The hambone allowed colored people to use our bodies as instruments when they did not have instruments. From the slapping, and clapping produced by their bodies created a beat. This beat was lively and one that would be carried on and transformed throughout the years. Hamboning turned into scatting in the 1920s. Another element of their bodies being used as the beat of music. From scatting turned into beat boxing. Beat boxing became the bass to any song specifically rap music. No other instrument was needed except the body and voice of one person to make the beat.


Storytelling was another African element that was carried over in folk music because it helped keep traditions and history alive. Songs were made about stories of their ancestors and constantly sung to teach the newer generations where they came from. The technique of storytelling allowed one to tell their history, feelings, and other situations one may want to bring up. Rhiannon Giddens’ “Wayfair Stranger” clearly represents this theory. The tone in her voice and some her lyrics provide the reasoning that music in general can tell a story. Moving into modern day, majority of the songs that we hear tell people a story. Many listeners find it very easy to resonate their feelings with the the artist’s feelings. Usher’s album Confessions did just that and is the reason why it is one of the all time most known albums in the world. From beginning to end, each song takes you through a specific moment in his life from being on top of the world to being heartbroken because of a mistake he made. Overall, if it wasn’t for folk music, this album and his most iconic songs would not exist today.

Folk music is the basis for all music genres for in America. Folk music is the beginning to everything greater. Even though it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, it is clear that every other music genre stems from folk music. Every genre has some aspect and element of folk music in it. 

What's your password?

Login to your account

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.