Folk & Spiritual Music

Facts about Folk

 A process through which music is created and performed and must be understood in the cultural context in which it is collectively composed, adapted, performed, and experienced by audiences.

1.  Folk Music typically has unknown authorship

A Folk song is typically originating among the people of a country or area, passed by oral tradition from one singer or generation to the next, often existing in several versions, and marked generally by simple, modal melody and stanzaic, narrative verse.

2. The word Folk has a German origin

Folk music takes its name from the German word Volk, which essentially means ‘the people.’ Folk music came to be used derisively to refer to the music of the uncultured class of people. This differentiates folk music from the traditional European concert music, establishing the class conflict between the folk and the elite

3. There are Different types of Folk Music

1) Mexican Folk Music:


Corridors, a  genre sometimes referred to as a “musical newspaper”, are ballads or “story songs,” an important part of Mexican folk literature since the 19th century; have also become a part of commercial popular music/entertainment; topics often include battles and heroes, duels, horse races, disasters and tragedies, crimes, immigrant experience, dangers of crossing the border into the U.S., drug trade; not associated with a particular instrumental ensemble. 

Famous Folk Artist

Woody Guthrie in the 1930s is often seen as the first significant contributor to the genre. His earliest works focused on the plight of the working class in the Dust Bowl Midwest, and he and his music were largely associated with the far-left political spectrum (think socialists and communists).


Things To Know about Spirituals

Religious hymns, work songs, along with traditional African rhythms and chanting styles, that articulate the suffering, longing, and religious passion of African Americans during slavery and its aftermath.

The Origin of Spirituals 

During the 18th century, virtually any manifestation of African culture were viewed by whites with fear and suspicion.For this reason, slaves often had to practice these sustaining cultural elements in secret gatherings, sometimes called brush arbor meetings.

Spiritual Music

Mahalia Jackson “Change the World”

Mahalia Jackson was born on in 1911 in New Orleans,  Louisiana. She began her singing career in her church, and is a well known singer and activist for African Americans.


Characteristics of Spiritual Music 

Singing, drumming, and chanting are all deeply important aspects of many different African religions and cultures. These musical elements were retained in spirituals, but were often slowed down to a dirge-like pace. Frequently, drums were eliminated altogether and spirituals became completely a cappella or accompanied only by clapping

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