American Folk Music

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The folk genre has origins all the way back to the 19th century, which in many ways is mirrored by many popular genres in modern musical genres. To make it easy folk music is merely, “ballads and songs which are composed and conveyed vocally, without being written.” Though what we distinguish ‘folk’ today as stylistically very different to what ‘folk’ was during the 19th century, at its basic form, it still holds the same standards and concepts, describing the simpler times. Through vigorous research, it’s hard to overlook the history and development of southern folk music, and how it may help understand the significance for observing and expanding the dynamics of southern race relationships. Both southern race associations and southern composition are replications of the social construction of the rural south. In the physically separated south, black and white melodic backgrounds show the same deviations and junctions which have historically characterized black and white relations. This is not an emotional analysis; but instead it is a socially ancient examination of regional popular culture which focuses upon the collaboration between two important features of that culture; race and music. The growth of the American folk music as a popular commodity is a process which matches the historical and cultural expansion of American society. In the formation of this commodity, two major streams, British and African, ran together over a two century period. Alan Lomax, one of folk music's foremost iconic historians, has observed that the junction of these varied elements has resulted in a cultural product which is "more British than whatever one can discover in Britain”. Southern music is a noteworthy measure of the folk customs; in man... ... middle of paper ... ...nic scale by twisting the strings of the guitar to attain tones which expressed their feelings. These "bent notes" developed into a normal feature of the blues. Call and response patterns were complicatedly intertwined into the vocal arrangements of black music, both transcendent and secular. Yet another Africanism which merits attention is the widespread use of the "falsetto yell" "falsetto jump" in which the singing was elevated an octave "usually in the preceding syllable of a word, at the conclusion of a line". It is commonly understood that this mannerism was preserved in the field hollers and work songs of the slavery age and found its way into the early blues form. Some researchers have suggested that the "blue yodel” commercialized by Jimmie Rodgers and his many followers may have been an deliberate mixture of the Swiss yodel and the African falsetto jump.

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