Elements of Folk Music

What is Folk Music?

Folk music was originally created by African slaves when first being taken to the New World from Africa. It was used as a way for communication and community amongst the slaves through different sounds, dances, and styles. Some characteristics that can be used to describe folk music are polyrhythm, call & response, and instruments. 

Folk Music Instruments

Banjos are one of the many string instruments that are commonly used in folk music. It was first designed by enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Caribbean as well as colonial North America. The banjo made its way to America with the slaves and it is a unique instrument due to its features not found on other string instruments. 

A djembe, or jembe, is a drum that is rope-tuned and played with bare hands. It is originally from West Africa and is used in folk music. The dundun drum is another commonly used drum that has a unique sound that doesn’t allow it to be used interchangeably like the djembe. 

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