Southern Folk Music

Topics: Blues, Country music, African American Pages: 17 (5679 words) Published: December 3, 2012
Southern Folk Music and Race Relations



The growth of the American folk music reservoir is a process that counterparts the historical and cultural development of American society. In the formation of this reservoir, two major streams, British, African, and several smaller branches, e.g., German, French, Cajun Mexican, etc., flowed together over a two-century period (Malone, 1979:4). Alan Lomax, one of folk music's leading historians, has detected that the merging of these miscellaneous elements has resulted in a cultural product, which is "more British than anything one can find in Britain" (1960:155).

Southern music has been an important part of the folk custom; in many ways. It is identical with American folk music. Its history is well documented,(Malone, 1979, 1985; Carr, 1979; Wolfe, 1977). Southern music has been ignored until recently it is the sociological examination of the relationships. Between this form of popular cultures, important historically, this gave rise to it and expressed by it. (Fine, 1977:381-384; cf. also Albrecht, 1954).1 Country music is a replication of the southern region's culture, history and social structure at the macro level and of the hopes, fears, beliefs and attitudes of its people at the micro level. (Gritzner, 1978)

In this paper, I think that the history and development of southern folk music may serve as an important role for seeing and growing of the southern race relations. I am not suggesting a causal relationship but an interactional one. Both the southern race relations and southern music are reflections of the social structure of the rural south. In the segregated south, white and black musical customs display the same differences, which have historically characterized white/black relations. This is not a lyrical study. Rather, it is a socio-historical analysis of regional popular culture, which focuses upon the interaction between two important features of that culture, race, and music.


The white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant core culture that dominates the institutions of American society was thoroughly rooted in North America prior to the Revolutionary War. In spite of two centuries of great technological, social change and, demographic remains have essentially been intact and pervasive today. To the extent that groups found a place within the core culture, their alteration has been positive and successful. Either by choice or by pressure, their alteration has been difficult. In the alteration process, three distinct patterns have emerged integration (Gordon, 1964), cultural pluralism (Greeley, 1974; Glazer and Moynihan, 1963) and structural pluralism (Cox, 1948; Balandier, 1966; and Blauner, 1972).

Assimilation, to use Newman's formula (1973:53), has been a process of A + B + C + etc. = A, where A is the core culture and B, C, D are immigrant groups. Normally, immigrants have adopted the customs and have learned the English language different values, and beliefs of a main group. Many have given up their own cultural heritage in the process of acquiring a new one. This is not to say that they have not been affected by the core culture in some ways, such as styles of dress. However, they have become part of the core culture without considerably altering the structure of American society. Assimilation has been the main ideology in the United States--"Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free" nevertheless, its applicability is limited to those western European and northern immigrants who enjoyed racial and significant cultural similarity with the core culture prior to their status as immigrants. For these groups, Scotch-Irish, Scots, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, and Welsh assimilation was largely processed of Anglo-conformity.

Two major requirements for any successful integration to have to exist in the United States are. First, immigrant groups...
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