Folk music. It means so many different things to so many people. From open toed sandal wearing men with long ginger beards, to the angst ridden teenage folk rockers. The Oxford dictionary defines folk music as ‘music that originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style. Folk music is typically of unknown authorship and is transmitted orally from generation to generation.’
With such massive scope, this could be anything. To my teenage self, folk music was unaccompanied strophic songs telling tales of unrequited love, tragedy, weird pie fillings and reason upon reason as to why women shouldn’t trust men. They meant learing verse after verse of ridiculous text involving a lot of ‘fah la la’, ‘diddle o’ the day’ and ‘whipsy diddley dandy die’. It didn’t thrill me but I must admit that I did enjoy the freedom of folk songs. Singers can really show their personalities (or lack of!) and can really play with the audience. It’s perfect for show offs and I often find that in a recital the audience always remembers the folk songs rather than the thrills of the gymnastic arias. People can connect with the text. They sympathise with the characters and laugh along with the nonsensical comedy. The trials and tribulations of life still involve love, money and death. This is why they stand the test of time. The melodies are not always simple but they certainly stick with the listener.
I now know that there is more to folk music than ‘foldie rol the days’ and I have been involved in many projects which show folk in all it’s forms. After all, people make music and we, the folk, continue to compose, sing, play and listen.