The History Of Folk Music


Folk Music originates from the time Africans were brought to America. It was created for many purposes but it was mainly created to bring the Africans together. 

Elements of Folk


The banjo is of the African origin and it contains one to six strings. The instrument contains a neck running parallel to a gourd body.


Several Contrasting rhythms played or sung simultaneously. In the europeans eye they saw it as just noise.

Call Response:

A song structure or performance practice in which a singer or instrumentalist makes a musical statement that is answered by another soloist, instrumentalist or group. The statement and answer sometimes overlap. Call-response results in scales of four to seven steps. Another name for it is antiphony and call-and-response.
Patting Juba:
Patting Juba is rhythmic body percussion used by slaves to accompany singing and dancing. It was done by striking the hands on the knees, then striking the hands together, then striking the right shoulder with one hand and the left shoulder with the other. 
La Calinda:

It was an African dance performed in the French West Indies and Louisiana in the 18th century. La Calinda was accompanied by a guitar-like instrument called the Banza and drums. The dance was performed by the young, old and even children.


Play-party was time for children and young adults to sing and dance after along day at work in the fields. It allowed them to have a little fun when during the day they were constantly working. This was when a lot of circle games began to form. For Example, Little Sally Walker and Mary Mack.

Protest Songs:

A lot of first folk songs were for protest. One that everyone knows is follow the drinking gourd. This was a way for people to understand how to use the stars to navigate their way to freedom. There were also some songs that they would sing during shucking corn they were a form of protest.

Primary Performers
& Composers


Odetta was a famous folk singer during the Civil Rights Movement and she was often called The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement. She was extremely famous for folk music, jazz ,blues and spirituals.

Social Implications
& Commodifications

The songs were expressions of the slaves feelings and also a means of communication. A huge issue that slaves had was there masters would steal their music and use it as their own. Enslaved Africans were also forced to perform their music for the white mans enjoyment. Since the enslaved had a limited vocabulary a lot of their music was compromised of different sounds. 

Influence on Music

Folk music had a huge influence on music. I believe that if folk music was never created we wouldn’t have a lot of the music we have today. Folk music is responsible for many beats that are now used in hip hop and many other genres. It also lead to the discovery of new instruments and new rhythms that they created. 


Overall, Folk music to me is a rich part of history and I happy to have the opportunity learn more. I think that African American folk music heavily influenced the creation of new genres in music. From folk music you get various beats and rhythms that you otherwise would not have. It impacts Africans in America because it allowed them to have voice and in some ways it lead to them being heard. It allows Africans to know where certain aspects of music have been created from. The music will continue to allow Africans to be proud of the work that they have created.

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