THAT'S ALL FOLK...Music
Folk music is a genre that is similar to folk literature as it employs oral tradition to pass the information along through generations of families. This genre is used across many different cultures which makes it a social group activity that is loved by many. Folk music is used in various ways across cultures as it is utilized for conveying different messages. During WWII, folk music had a great prevalence in Europe because it was used to spread messages regarding political agendas and social change. It is important to note that terms like folk music, folk song, and folk dance are all expressions and extensions of the term folklore. Which describe the customs, superstitions and traditions of the perceived uncultured classes in society. In the mid-20th century emerged a new form of popular folk music, therefore the process and period is known as the second folk revival.
Where a folk song originated from is commonly unknown to its community, thus folk songs have a personal relationship and are very much affected by the community because of its life in oral tradition. As the music is passed from parents to children to friends to associates to coworkers, it is common for the music to be changed. Creativity, forgetfulness, influence from previous songs, and stylistic expectations are all influences of making folk music, which is called communal re-creation. Some genres of folk music include ballads, which are usually short in nature with repeated lines, epics which sometimes require many hours to sing, or even instrumental folk music which is often accompanied with dancing. Rhythmic music is a notable characteristic of folk music that cannot go unmentioned. Banjos and guitars are common instruments used and depending on the culture, djemebes and drums are implemented. Even with the variation of music between cultures, common features are constant.
One of the most influential figures in the area of folk-blues is the musician, Huddie Ledbetter [leadbelly]. He was able to integrate old gospel, blues, folk and country music into a sound that he became known for. Often times, Leadbelly used his songs to tell the hard truth which, twice, saved him from having to endure a long prison sentence.
The often most-discussed influence in the African American community is in the area of blues and rock n’ roll. As mentioned previously, Leadbelly is a notable musician of that genre. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Memphis Minnie are artists who popularized blues across the racial divides of the times. Other notable artists like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and BB King helped to influence the sounds of what would be rock n’ roll. These are musicians that were able to blur the lines between genres with influences from folk music. Their raw and infectious melodies made them brilliant influencers.