American Folk Music

American folk music has simmered for decades in the American melting pot we call the U.S.A. Honestly, though, much of what we call American folk music originated from other countries. Sometimes the lyrics, poem, or song morphed over time into what we recognize today as an American folk tune.

Some musicians and writers classify 20s music and 30s songs (popularity-wise) as folk, and according to age, they are. But since they have a distinct feel of their own, I don't believe they quite fit under the title of American Folk Music.

bicycle built for two, american folk music,americana image I still remember as a boy growing up, how many of these old songs my dad used to sing. He wasn't an accomplished singer, but he could carry a tune and kept a steady rhythm. Of course, many of the songs popular in the 20s and 30s were written during an earlier period of time.

We loved to sing On a Bicycle Built for Two as well as
And the Band Played On
- both composed in the late 1800s!



What Is Folk Music?

Here are some of the TRUE MARKS of a folk song:


* Anything written before the 1920s and not included in the great popular period of the 20s are indeed folk songs. These songs were brought to the U.S.A.from many other countries,such as England , Ireland , Scotland , Wales, The British Isles, the Netherlands, France, and other countries.



These folk songs had many things in common:

  • Copyright laws were limited or nonexistent.
    In the earlier days, say 1300 and up to the time of the pilgrims and even beyond, copyright was not the concern that it is today. Even if they were copyrighted then, the privileges are no longer in existence.

  • Many American folk songs had their origin in other countries.
    In some cases, two or three other countries may have contributed to the creation of a song before the final version, as we know it today, was established.

  • Traveling musicians, or troubadours , went from place to place popularizing what we now call folk music.
    These minstrels as they were called, entertained people with their folk music instruments and their rendition of catchy tunes.

  • Many American folk songs were composed to create a theme for a musical venture or production
    Many of the Broadway Musicals have songs fitting this category.

  • The slaves and the black population of America contributed a great deal to our folk song history
    Stephen Foster was perhaps one of the greatest contributors to black culture and black music than anyone else.



The history of folk music in America is a great story all its own -
a poem with no music....
a song with words that came later....
musical flops which became hits once their title was changed....

American Folk Music is classic music at its best.

Decade after decade may pass, but we are still drawn to the tunes of a simpler time and place...where yesteryear is but a memory away.




Go from American Folk Music to American Folk Songs

English Folk Music
* Greensleeves
* Man on the Flying Trapeze

Irish Folk Music
* Irish Folk Songs
* Irish Names Poem
* Irish Immigrants
* Irish Symbol Ring
* St. Patrick's Day History
* Mrs. Murphy's Chowder
* Same Old Shillelagh

Scottish Folk Music

Folk Music History

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