American Folk Music

American Folk Music

American folk music is considered to be the root of the all major kinds of music that we listen to today...
I got hooked into folk music by accident, because that's what white college kids liked when I was a child. - Stephen Stills

America has certainly contributed a lot to music in the world, right from the 20s and 50s till now. It is where a majority of music genres sprung up, and many music aspirants were encouraged to enter the music industry. All different types of music that we hear today is largely a result of American folk music in the early years. This music is not believed to be a separate kind of genre, but a collection of most prominent types of music.

American folk music is considered to be a group which includes a wide range of music genres. The most notable kinds in this group are country, blues, gospel, bluegrass, and similar others. All these categories of music have primarily been started or developed in the USA, hence the term 'American folk music'. Some musicologists think that this music can also be referred to as 'roots music'. It was the American folk music which later gave way to rock, R&B, jazz, and other prominent types. Generally, folk music is divided into types such as gospel, songs for kids, ballads, and classical up-tempo tunes.

The Spread of American Folk Music

When this music was at its peak in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, it spread all across America. You would be surprised to know that this spreading of music was a result of the great depression and dust storms, which caused musicians to move to different states which are now renowned for their music culture. This was also a reason for the development of African-American folk music.

American Folk Music Instruments

The fiddle is one significant musical instruments in American folk music which was used in the lead role. The inclusion of the fiddle in this music was a result of the immigration of people from countries like Ireland and Scotland. Another important instrument in folk music is the banjo, which was brought by African slaves to the States. On the other hand, there is the accordion, which was a result of the English people coming in the USA in the 1840s. The piano accordion along with native American drum music was majorly used for songs with an up-tempo beat and rhythm. The guitar is also a popular instrument in folk music in America, which was brought by the Spanish. The following part contains few of the well-known musicians and artists known in American folk music.

American Folk Music Artists and Musicians

• Arlo Guthrie
• B.B. King
• Bessie Smith
• Bill Monroe
• Blind Lemon Jefferson
• Burl Ives
• Chris Castle
• Hank Williams
• Hazel Dickens
• Jean Ritchie
• Jelly Roll Morton
• Jeremy Fisher
• Jewel
• Jimmie Rodgers
• Joan Baez
• John Denver
• John Lee Hooker
• Johnny Cash
• Johnny Richardson
• Keb' Mo'
• Kingston Trio
• Leadbelly
• Maggie Simpson
• Mahalia Jackson
• Merle Travis
• Muddy Waters
• Pete Seeger
• Peter, Paul & Mary
• Ralph Stanley
• Ricky Skaggs
• Robert Johnson
• Roy Acuff
• Son House
• Townes Van Zandt
• Washington Phillips
• Willie Nelson
• Woody Guthrie
• Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs

If you want to listen to traditional American folk music, you can purchase the 'Anthology of American Folk Music' compilation album which contains 84 of the best songs in country, blues, and folk music. This album is compiled by Harry Smith by collecting together some of the best folk songs of their times. You can even buy the 'Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, Volume 4' music album which has 28 songs in two discs.