The History Behind Folk Music


Within the genre of Folk we decided to focus on the call-response style of music.

Call-response-  “ A song structure or performance practice in which a singer or instrumentalist  makes a musical statement that is answered by soloist, instrumentalist or group. The statement and answer sometimes overlap. Also called antiphony and call-and-response.”

The history behind folk music is synonymous with the struggle, empowerment and perseverance of the African American community. The music has embodied the marginalization of the African people. Many europeans were uncomfortable with the informality of African Folk music as it had no rules of scales and was more of a free forming music form. The structure of call-and-response derived from the plantation fields that often sounded like cries amongst African- American enslaved people. Often the call-and response- aimed to spread news or information. Elizabeth Cotten was a folk singer in the 1960’s you will see a video of hers below.

Folk music was the only way for the slaves to express their pain and sorrows, that was uncontrolled by their white counterparts. Dance and song is a major part of our culture this was a way to stay liberated in our identity. Today, folk music has given way to genres of music from blues to hip-hop music, each expressing the struggle and personal empowerment.

We really enjoyed “patting juba” the clapping and dancing in addition to the foot stomping that is culture for us but was unique to the United States.

Elizabeth Cotten Video  


Ma Rainey- Folk-Blues Singer

Alexa Johnson & Isis Benjamin

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