Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gather 'Round, Folks!


Gather 'round, folks, it's time to talk about folk music.

What comes to mind when you hear that? Folk music.

For me I think of traditional folk music. You know, those songs that are learned through oral tradition, the passing down of songs from one generation to another. Songs often learned at the knee of a grandparent or parent. Songs that have stood the test of time. Songs that are written by the famous composer "Anonymous." Songs that are in the native tongue. Songs that evolve over the years during which time variants are created because the singer might forget or leave out words or make up new ones. Songs sung either a cappella or accompanied by acoustic instruments.

For me I think of urban folk music or folk rock. You now, the songs learned by hearing them countless times on the radio or on the record player. (Yes, I'm that old!) Because of this mode of learning the songs there are not so many variants. They remain the same from one singer to the next, from one generation to the next. After all, how can the recording sound different - unlike live human repetition of a song.  Those songs sung by such musicians as Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul, & Mary. Songs that are either modernized versions of traditional folk songs (songs written by the famous composer "Anonymous," but arranged to sound new) or songs composed to *sound* like traditional folk songs.

For me I think of the new "indie folk" genre intended to make folk music novel yet if you read the above paragraph - it's been done. A few decades ago. Tonight I described "indie" as meaning an individual, independent, unique style. Folk meaning it draws from folk styles. These new groups write original tunes in their perceived folk style with expanded instrumentation in the accompaniment. They sing classic country hits (probably thinking they are true folk songs), only they might change the voicings. Case in point, at tonight's concert Elvis' "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" and Johnny Cash' "Folsom Prison Blues" were sung by a female duet. It was nice, but in my opinion don't mess with such signature songs by such well known musicians. (My opinion on cover songs is a topic for another post.)

Traditional folk is my muse.
     Urban folk or folk rock is my love.
          Indie growing on me.
If it has "folk" in the title I'm likely to like it.

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