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Understanding the Great Importance of Folk Music

Understanding the Great Importance of Folk Music

One of the defining characteristics of many great civilizations is the telling of stories through the art of folk music. The songs crafted by folk musicians serve as a snapshot of their experiences as they lived through many important moments throughout time. These songs, and the traditions associated with them, create a rich tapestry that makes understanding the great importance of folk music all the more important.

Preserve History

Though many a bombastic songwriter has written a song that attempts to rewrite the narrative in their favor, there’s still much to learn about history from folk music. Throughout history, we’ve used music to tell the stories of our people. Because the music and lyrics are often simple, children learn the songs at a young age. This has even made it possible for songs to outlive the cultures that created them.

Remember Your Past

Folk music also offers a gateway to our own past. In American history, folk music played an important role in many counterculture and protest movements. For older adults suffering from memory loss, the folk songs of their youth can be used to jog memories and improve their quality of life.

Connects People

Music is about connecting people in every sense. Folk tunes create a bridge between people that otherwise might not exist. It helps establish connections between generations and to others within our community, bringing them together with a shared history and purpose. The struggles faced and overcome by one person in your history can serve as inspiration and motivation for those that follow.

Lessons and Messages

One of the keys to understanding the great importance of folk music is knowing many of the stories told in the lyrics are crafted to serve as a metaphor. We use music to help teach the values, norms, and ideals of our culture, so it would only make sense that not everything from the song should be taken as fact. There are also cases throughout history where folk songs were used to hide messages. Some of the songs sung by slaves provided clues for reaching freedom in the North, for instance.

These are just a few of the reasons why folk music continues to be so important within our society. At Yandas Music, we value and appreciate the long, storied history of folk music and recognize the impact it has had within our culture. We proudly offer many high-quality folk instruments for sale, with many options available for beginners and experts alike.

1 comment

  • Drw Ryan

    Thanks Bob,

    That was well written and I enjoyed it very much. I don’t think the importance of folk music on modern music can be overstated and the influence of the dark past from which it came bears its own concomitant weight . It’s not hard to see the influence of folk music in many modern genre’s of music. For instance, and I know this is a bit of a broad over-generalization but, without folk music there’s no modern hard rock or heavy metal. Some may call that one hell of a stretch but it really isn’t. Without hard rock there’s no heavy metal – without classic rock there’s no hard rock – without blues there’s no classic rock – without the folk songs and work songs of time there’s no blues. And those folk songs and work songs of the times were the songs that most generally are from in and around the time of slavery. Just looking at the form and structure of the 12 bar blues the call/response style of lyrics and instrumental notation one can easily see the call/response style influence of the field and work songs of the period. And many of those field and work songs were carried as traditional folk music by the peoples that sung them. For instance the call/response, call/response of the first 4 bars, the call/response, call/response, of the second 4 bars, and the general overall response of the last 4 bars to the call of the first 8 in the song Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman can be seen in the chord progression and lyrics of The Blue Tail Fly when one looks at it like this…
    Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care
    call response
    Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care
    call response
    Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care
    call response
    My master has gone away
    overall response
    Of course the term folk when used in this form is meant in more of an adjective form and generally refers to the music being of unknown origin and reflecting the societal norms of the period. It is, in my estimation, nearly impossible to divorce almost all of modern American music from its ties to the blues and therefore to folk music. From Lead Belly to Aretha Franklin to Kirk Hammett, from Blind Lemon to T-Bone to SRV, there is an influence of the old folk music in all of modern American music. Thanks Bob for keeping that music in our ears and in our minds because if we forget where we came from we lose ourselves.

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