5 December 2014
Folk Music: The Bridge between the Past and the Present Sometimes the strongest way to get a story or point across is through words of song. In a historical point of view, the oldest and most effective style of music that has had a major impact throughout the world is folkstyle music. Many of the United States’ immigrants from Europe were drawn to, and influences to, the music in the South, mainly during the 1800’s (Cohen). The definition of folklore has been a widely discussed topic, but as far as folk music goes, most can agree that it is defined as traditional music that has been orally passed on through the generations (Gomme). Many different ethnicities and ages of people have influenced today’s folk music to some degree. There is no set style that all folk music follows, given that it has no set origin. The importance of this cultural genre of music is, however, recognized and different people and organizations have worked to protect it (Reuss). Folk music festivals grew popular during the 19th and 20th century, which drew many people from abroad to the United States(Cohen). Folk music holds a potential key to understanding life through the generations. Folk music’s origination in America is debated as to whether or not it comes from the American Indians or from the immigration of people from Europe. However, no matter it’s actual origination. it is still a very valuable aspect to our nation’s history. The United States is rich in American Indian history. Such civilizations were/have been a substantial influence to the considerations of expanding the definition of folk music (Donaldson).
Many folklorists would agree that American Indians laid the foundation to folklore while preserving their history and identity through instrumentation and song (Lee). Still today, “contemporary Oklahoma Indians continue to build a cultural foundation upon these ancient music traditions” (Lee).
There are still ceremonial activities featuring music and dance that take place among Indian nations
whose origins are in southeastern North America (Lee). When visiting sites in Tennessee, my family and I make sure to visit Cherokee, North Carolina along the way. Cherokee Indian culture continues to be passed down through the generations through use of music, traditional dance, and handcrafted art every day in Cherokee. We [my family] have been able to experience much of their American Indian folklore when visiting this site. Maintaining this historical community is important in order for people to continue to understand certain aspects of development in our nation.
Traditional Indian stomp dances had multiple
purposes; such as friendship, animal, and rain dances
(Lee). Like much of the folk music created
by Europeans, certain music [containing the “heartbeat” of a drum] by the American Indians were culturally based; containing traces to hunting and warfare (Lee). Neighbors typically
exchanged different songs and dances with one another ,
creating diverse intertribal folk music
(Lee). Presently, Protestant churches, commonly throughout American Indian communities, portray European hymns and other tribal aspects (Lee). Observing the connections made between Europeans and American Indians, it is clear that folk music has been a an efficient tool, per se, in connecting people over time. Even to a smaller degree in my personal life, connections are easily made between myself and other people when taking part in different musicrelated activities. Even if all the people taking part in a new musical arrangement don’t know one another, it is usually pretty easy to relate and become well acquainted with other people. Though the
sicians I am speaking of play music by ways of reading what has been recorded, rather than ...
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