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|Music of the United States of America|
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||"The Star-Spangled Banner"|
The term American folk music encompasses numerous music genres, variously known as traditional music, traditional folk music , contemporary folk music, or roots music. Many traditional songs have been sung within the same family or folk group for generations, and sometimes trace back to such origins as Great Britain, Europe, or Africa.Musician Mike Seeger once famously commented that the definition of American folk music is "...all the music that fits between the cracks."
Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.
Mike Seeger was an American folk musician and folklorist. He was a distinctive singer and an accomplished musician who played autoharp, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, mouth harp, mandolin, dobro, jaw harp, and pan pipes. Seeger, a half-brother of Pete Seeger, produced more than 30 documentary recordings, and performed in more than 40 other recordings. He desired to make known the caretakers of culture that inspired and taught him.
Roots music is a broad category of music including bluegrass, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered American either because it is native to the United States or because it developed there, out of foreign origins, to such a degree that it struck musicologists as something distinctly new. It is considered "roots music" because it served as the basis of music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the United States Appalachian region. The genre derives its name from the band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Bluegrass has roots in traditional English, Irish, and Scottish ballads and dance tunes, and by traditional African-American blues and jazz. The Blue Grass Boys played a Mountain Music style that Bill learned in Asheville, North Carolina from bands like Wade Mainer's and other popular acts on radio station WWNC. It was further developed by musicians who played with him, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."
Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.
A jug band is a band employing a jug player and a mix of conventional and homemade instruments. These homemade instruments are ordinary objects adapted to or modified for making sound, like the washtub bass, washboard, spoons, bones, stovepipe, jew's harp, and comb and tissue paper (kazoo). The term jug band is loosely used in referring to ensembles that also incorporate homemade instruments but that are more accurately called skiffle bands, spasm bands, or juke bands because they do not include a jug player.
Most songs of the Colonial Fletch and Revolutionary period originated in England, Scotland and Ireland and were brought over by early settlers. "Barbara Allen" remains a popular traditional ballad originating in England and Scotland, which immigrants introduced to the United States.The murder ballad "Pretty Polly" is an American version of an earlier British song, "The Gosport Tragedy".
"Barbara Allen" is a traditional Scottish ballad; it later travelled to America both orally and in print, where it became a popular folk song. Ethnomusicologists Steve Roud and Julia Bishop described it as "far and away the most widely collected song in the English language—equally popular in England, Scotland and Ireland, and with hundreds of versions collected over the years in North America."
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, which were originally "danced songs". Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of Ireland and Britain from the later medieval period until the 19th century. They were widely used across Europe, and later in Australia, North Africa, North America and South America. Ballads are often 13 lines with an ABABBCBC form, consisting of couplets of rhymed verse, each of 14 syllables. Another common form is ABAB or ABCB repeated, in alternating 8 and 6 syllable lines.
Murder ballads are a subgenre of the traditional ballad form dealing with a crime or a gruesome death. Their lyrics form a narrative describing the events of a murder, often including the lead-up and/or aftermath. The term refers to the content, and may be applied to traditional ballads, part of oral culture. Broadsheet printed ballads do not use the same formulas or structures, and are rooted in a literate society.
African American folk music in the area has roots in slavery and emancipation. "Sacred music, both a Capella and instrumentally accompanied, is at the heart of the tradition. Early spirituals framed Christian beliefs within native practices and were heavily influenced by the music and rhythms of Africa."Spirituals are prominent, and often use a call and response pattern. "Gospel developed after the Civil War (1861-65). It relied on biblical text for much of its direction, and the use of metaphors and imagery was common. Gospel is a "joyful noise," sometimes accompanied by instrumentation and almost always punctuated by hand clapping, toe tapping, and body movement."
Sea shanties functioned to lighten the burden of routine tasks and provide a rhythm that helped workers perform as a team.
Cowboys songs are typically ballads that cowboys sang in the West and Southwest. The familiar Streets of Laredo" (or "Cowboys Lament") derives from an Irish folk song of the late 18th century called "The Unfortunate Rake",which in turn appears to have descended from the even earlier "The Bard of Armagh". While "Streets of Laredo" uses the same melody as "The Unfortunate Rake", "St. James Infirmary Blues" adapts the story to a different tune. This illustrates how folk songs can change in the retelling and appear in a variety of versions.
A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of special significance and legend. A subtype, called a wrangler, specifically tends the horses used to work cattle. In addition to ranch work, some cowboys work for or participate in rodeos. Cowgirls, first defined as such in the late 19th century, had a less-well documented historical role, but in the modern world work at identical tasks and have obtained considerable respect for their achievements. Cattle handlers in many other parts of the world, particularly South America and Australia, perform work similar to the cowboy.
"Streets of Laredo", also known as the "Cowboy's Lament", is a famous American cowboy ballad in which a dying cowboy tells his story to another cowboy. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
"The Unfortunate Lad", also known, for obscure reasons, as "The Unfortunate Rake", is a traditional folk ballad, which through the folk process has evolved into a large number of variants.
The "Ballad of John Henry (folklore)" is about an African-American folk hero said to have worked as a "steel-driving man".
Many roots musicians do not consider themselves folk musicians. The main difference between the American folk music revival and American "roots music" is that roots music seems to cover a broader range, including blues and country.
Roots music developed its most expressive and varied forms in the first three decades of the 20th century. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl were extremely important in disseminating these musical styles to the rest of the country, as Delta blues masters, itinerant honky tonk singers, Cajun musicians spread to cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. The growth of the recording industry in the same period was also important; higher potential profits from music placed pressure on artists, songwriters, and label executives to replicate previous hit songs. This meant that musical fads, such as Hawaiian slack-key guitar, never died out completely, since a broad range of rhythms, instruments, and vocal stylings were incorporated into disparate popular genres.
By the 1950s, forms of roots music had led to pop-oriented forms. Folk musicians like the Kingston Trio, blues-derived rock and roll and rockabilly, pop-gospel, doo wop and R&B (later secularized further as soul music) and the Nashville sound in country music all modernized and expanded the musical palette of the country.
The roots approach to music emphasizes the diversity of American musical traditions, the genealogy of creative lineages and communities, and the innovative contributions of musicians working in these traditions today. In recent years roots music has been the focus of popular media programs such as Garrison Keillor's public radio program, A Prairie Home Companion and the feature film by the same name.
American traditional music is also called roots music. Roots music is a broad category of music including bluegrass, country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered American either because it is native to the United States or because it developed there, out of foreign origins, to such a degree that it struck musicologists as something distinctly new. It is considered "roots music" because it served as the basis of music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, contemporary folk music, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
Appalachian music is the traditional music of the region of Appalachia in the Eastern United States. It derives from various European and African influences—including English ballads, Irish and Scottish traditional music (especially fiddle music), hymns, and African-American blues. First recorded in the 1920s, Appalachian musicians were a key influence on the early development of Old-time music, country music, and bluegrass, and were an important part of the American folk music revival.
Instruments typically used to perform Appalachian music include the banjo, American fiddle, fretted dulcimer, and guitar.
Early recorded Appalachian musicians include Fiddlin' John Carson, Henry Whitter, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, the Carter Family, Clarence Ashley, Frank Proffitt, and Dock Boggs, all of whom were initially recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. Several Appalachian musicians obtained renown during the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s, including Jean Ritchie, Roscoe Holcomb, Ola Belle Reed, Lily May Ledford, and Doc Watson.
The Carter Family was a traditional American folk music group that recorded between 1927 and 1956. Their music had a profound impact on bluegrass, country, Southern Gospel, pop and rock musicians. They were the first vocal group to become country music stars; a beginning of the divergence of country music from traditional folk music. Their recordings of such songs as "Wabash Cannonball" (1932), "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (1935), "Wildwood Flower" (1928), and "Keep on the Sunny Side" (1928) made them country standards.
Country and bluegrass artists such as Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins, and Don Reno were heavily influenced by traditional Appalachian music.Artists such as Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and Bruce Springsteen have performed Appalachian songs or rewritten versions of Appalachian songs.
Cajun music, an emblematic music of Louisiana, is rooted in the ballads of the French-speaking Acadians of Canada. Cajun music is often mentioned in tandem with the Creole-based, Cajun-influenced zydeco form, both of Acadiana origin. These French Louisiana sounds have influenced American popular music for many decades, especially country music, and have influenced pop culture through mass media, such as television commercials.
Before recorded history American Indians in this area used songs and instrumentation; music and dance remain the core of ceremonial and social activities."Stomp dance" remains at its core, a "call and response" form; instrumentation is provided by rattles or shackles worn on the legs of women. "Other southeastern nations have their own complexes of sacred and social songs, including those for animal dances and friendship dances, and songs that accompany stickball games.
Central to the music of the southern Plains Indians is the drum, which has been called the heartbeat of Plains Indian music. Most of that genre traces back to the hunting and warfare that was a strong part of plains culture.During the reservation period, they frequently used music to relieve boredom and despair. Neighbors gathered, exchanged and created songs and dances. This is a part of the roots of the modern intertribal powwow. Another common instrument is the courting flute.
Shape-note or sacred harp singing developed in the early nineteenth century as a way for itinerant singing instructors to teach church songs in rural communities. They taught using song books that represented musical notation of tones by geometric shapes that associated a shape with a pitch. Sacred harp singing became popular in many Oklahoma rural communities, regardless of ethnicity.
Later, the blues tradition developed, with roots in and parallels to sacred music.By the early 20th century, jazz developed, born from a "blend of ragtime, gospel, and blues" "Anglo-Scots-Irish music traditions gained a place in Oklahoma after the Land Run of 1889. Because of its size and portability, the fiddle was the core of early Oklahoma Anglo music, but other instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, banjo, and steel guitar were added later. Various Oklahoma music traditions trace their roots to the British Isles, including cowboy ballads, western swing, and contemporary country and western." "Mexican immigrants began to reach Oklahoma in the 1870s, bringing beautiful canciones and corridos love songs, waltzes, and ballads along with them. Like American Indian communities, each rite of passage in Hispanic communities is accompanied by traditional music.
The acoustic guitar, string bass, and violin provide the basic instrumentation for Mexican music, with maracas, flute, horns, or sometimes accordion filling out the sound."Other Europeans (such as Bohemians and Germans) settled in the late nineteenth century. Their social activities centered on community halls, "where local musicians played polkas and waltzes on the accordion, piano, and brass instruments."
Later Asians contributed to the musical mix. "Ancient music and dance traditions from the temples and courts of China, India, and Indonesia are preserved in Asian communities throughout the state, and popular song genres are continually layered on to these classical music forms"
Tejano and New Mexico music, heard throughout the American Southwest and South Texas, is rooted in the musics of the Native American and Hispanic/Latino communities of the regions. Tejano music is also heavily influenced by Regional Mexican and Country music, while New Mexico music is much more influenced by Hispano folk and Western music. Both styles have influenced one another over the years, and incorporated American popular music styles.
Genres here range as widely as the definition of folk music itself; working definitions are based on the style and themes of the music regardless of its source. Many are a part of the American Folk Music Revival, including works by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, The Weavers,Burl Ives, and others. A more commercially oriented pop music version of folk emerged in the 1960s, including performers such as The Kingston Trio, The Limeliters, The Brothers Four, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, The Highwaymen, Judy Collins, The New Christy Minstrels, and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as counterculture and folk rock performers including Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Arlo Guthrie, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Folk composer and musician Robert Schmertz composed and wrote pieces related to historical events in Western Pennsylvania.
In 2004, NPR published the book titled The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to American Folk Music,Linda Ronstadt wrote the foreword.
In 2007, James P. Leary published Polkabilly: How the Goose Island Ramblers Redefined American Folk Music, which proposes a redefinition of traditional American folk music and identifies a new genre of music from the Upper Midwest known as Polkabilly, which blends ethnic music, old-time country music, and polka.The book was awarded the American Folklore Society’s Chicago Folklore Prize for the best book in the field of folklore scholarship.
Notable American folk/roots musicians include:
Hootenanny , a weekly musical variety show broadcast on the ABC network in the U.S. in 1963-1964, primarily featured folk musicians.
The soundtrack of the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is exclusively roots music, performed by Alison Krauss, The Fairfield Four, Emmylou Harris, Norman Blake and others.
In 2001, PBS broadcast a 4-part documentary series, American Roots Music, that explored the historical roots of American roots music through footage and performances by the creators of the movement.
The 2003 film A Mighty Wind is a tribute to (and parody of) the folk-pop musicians of the early 1960s.
A six-hour public television series, The Music of America: History Through Musical Traditions, appeared in 2010.
The music of the United States reflects the country's pluri-ethnic population through a diverse array of styles. It is a mixture of music influenced by West African, Irish, Scottish and mainland European cultures among others. The country's most internationally renowned genres are jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, rhythm and blues, soul, ragtime, hip hop, barbershop, pop, experimental, techno, house, dance, boogaloo, and salsa. The United States has the world's largest music market with a total retail value of 4,898.3 million dollars in 2014, and its music is heard around the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some forms of American popular music have gained a near global audience.
A roots revival is a trend which includes young performers popularizing the traditional musical styles of their ancestors. Often, roots revivals include an addition of newly composed songs with socially and politically aware lyrics, as well as a general modernization of the folk sound.
Many musical styles flourished and combined in the 1940s and 1950s, most likely because of the influence of radio had in creating a mass market for music. World War II caused great social upheaval, and the music of this period shows the effects of that upheaval.
Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music. It developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dancing, clogging, and buck dancing. It is played on acoustic instruments, generally centering on a combination of fiddle and plucked string instruments, as well as the mandolin.
During the 20th century there was a huge increase in the variety of music that people had access to. Prior to the invention of mass market gramophone records and radio broadcasting, people mainly listened to music at live Classical music concerts or musical theatre shows, which were too expensive for many lower-income people; on early phonograph players ; or by individuals performing music or singing songs on an amateur basis at home, using sheet music, which required the ability to sing, play, and read music. These were skills that tended to be limited to middle-class and upper-class individuals. With the mass-market availability of gramophone records and radio broadcasts, listeners could purchase recordings of, or listen on radio to recordings or live broadcasts of a huge variety of songs and musical pieces from around the globe. This enabled a much wider range of the population to listen to performances of Classical music symphonies and operas that they would not be able to hear live, either due to not being able to afford live-concert tickets or because such music was not performed in their region.
Industrial folk music, industrial folk song, industrial work song or working song is a subgenre of folk or traditional music that developed from the 18th century, particularly in Britain and North America, with songs dealing with the lives and experiences of industrial workers. The origins of industrial folk song are in the British industrial revolution of the eighteenth century as workers tended to take the forms of music with which they were familiar, including ballads and agricultural work songs, and adapt them to their new experiences and circumstances. They also developed in France and the US as these countries began to industrialise.
While the music of Oklahoma is relatively young, Oklahoma has been a state for just over 100 years, and it has a rich history and many fine and influential musicians.
The music history of the United States includes many styles of folk, popular and classical music. Some of the best-known genres of American music are blues, rock and roll, and country. The history began with the Native Americans, the first people to populate North America. The music of these people was highly varied in form, and was mostly religious in purpose.
Appalachian music is the music of the region of Appalachia in the Eastern United States. It is derived from various European and African influences, including English ballads, Irish and Scottish traditional music, hymns, and African-American blues. First recorded in the 1920s, Appalachian musicians were a key influence on the early development of Old-time music, country music, and bluegrass, and were an important part of the American folk music revival of the 1960s. Instruments typically used to perform Appalachian music include the banjo, American fiddle, fretted dulcimer, and guitar.
Americana is an amalgam of American music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the musical ethos of the United States, specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, gospel, and other external influences. Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is "contemporary music that incorporates elements of various mostly acoustic American roots music styles, including country, roots rock, folk, gospel and bluegrass resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band."
Dust Bowl Ballads is an album by Woody Guthrie, recorded for Victor Records in Camden, New Jersey in 1940. It was Guthrie's first commercial recording and the most successful album he made. It is considered to be the first or one of the very first concept albums.
Sing Out! was a quarterly journal of folk music and folk songs that was published from May 1950 through spring 2014.
Progressive folk was originally a type of American folk music that pursued a progressive political agenda, but in the United Kingdom the term became attached to a musical subgenre. The latter describes a substyle of contemporary folk that draws from post-Bob Dylan folk music and adds new layers of musical and lyrical complexity, often incorporating various ethnic influences.
The American folk-music revival began during the 1940s and peaked in popularity in the mid-1960s. Its roots went earlier, and performers like Josh White, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Oscar Brand, Jean Ritchie, John Jacob Niles, Susan Reed, Paul Robeson and Cisco Houston had enjoyed a limited general popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. The revival brought forward styles of American folk music that had, in earlier times, contributed to the development of country and western, jazz, and rock and roll music.
Contemporary folk music refers to a wide variety of genres that emerged in the mid 20th century and afterwards which were associated with traditional folk music. Starting in the mid-20th century a new form of popular folk music evolved from traditional folk music. This process and period is called the (second) folk revival and reached a zenith in the 1960s. The most common name for this new form of music is also "folk music", but is often called "contemporary folk music" or "folk revival music" to make the distinction. The transition was somewhat centered in the US and is also called the American folk music revival. Fusion genres such as folk rock, folktronica, and others also evolved within this phenomenon. While contemporary folk music is a genre generally distinct from traditional folk music, it often shares the same English name, performers and venues as traditional folk music; even individual songs may be a blend of the two.
Popular music of the United States in the 1960s became innately tied up into causes, opposing certain ideas, influenced by the sexual revolution, feminism, Black Power and environmentalism. This trend took place in a tumultuous period of massive public unrest in the United States which consisted of the Cold War, Vietnam War, and Civil Rights Movement.
Old time fiddle is a genre of American folk music. "Old time fiddle tunes" derived from European folk dance tunes such as Jig, Reel, Breakdown, Schottische, Waltz, Two Step and Polka. The fiddle may be accompanied by banjo or other instruments but are nevertheless called "fiddle tunes". The genre traces from the colonization of North America by immigrants from England, France, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland. It is separate and distinct from traditions which it has influenced or which may in part have evolved from it, such as bluegrass, country blues, variants of western swing and country rock.