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What is folk music?

A personal wiev by Göran Westling

A participant in the course Ensemble-singing - Folkmusic naturally ask what is folkmusic?
For sure, there is no simple answer on that question as read in encyclopedies .
However, some insight might be reached by: reading about it´s history, by structuring the wide field and listening to music examples.

For a swedish student the obvious starting point is swedish folkmusic (i.e. Folkmusikboken), because until the last decades this was the major folkmusic in Sweden.
A good complement is to read about and listen to music examples of traditional swedish folkmusic.
In contrast, acoording to folkmusic-festivals, the folkmusic today are very international and with influence from many genres like jazz-, pop- and rock-music.
Hence, also reading about and listen to changes in the Swedish folk music - from village greens to concert platform add further understanding.

Folkmusikboken (An "encyclopedia" of swedish folk music until 1980)

was published by Prisma 1980. No further edition is planned, but
Svenskt Visarkiv (Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research) have some chapters of Folkmusikboken availible at internet. It is recommended to read the book which has the following structure:
  • Jan Ling: Om folkmusikens historia och ideologi
    • Inledning
    • Folkmusik 1200-1500
    • Folkmusik 1600-1800
    • Folkmusik under 1800-talet
    • Folkmusik under 1900-talet
    • Svensk folkmusik 1920-50
      • Mot utländsk masskultur
      • Svenskhetens bevarande
      • En opolitisk ambition
      • Folkbildning
      • Sammanfattning
    • Svensk folkmusik 1950-60
    • Svensk folkmusik 1960-70 - och sedan?
    • Slutnoter
  • Birgit Kjellström: Om folkliga instrument
    • Inledning
    • Ljud för besvärjelse
    • Ljud som arbetshjälp
    • Lurar och djurhorn
      • Om lurar
      • Om horn
    • Pipor av trä och bark
      • Om mungigan
      • Om pipor
    • Mungiga
      • Om mungigan
    • Säckpipa
      • Om säckpipan
    • Vevlira
      • Om vevliran
    • Nyckelharpa
      • Om nyckelharpor
    • tråkharpa
    • Träskofiol
    • Hummel
      • Om hummeln
    • Cittra
    • Gitarr
    • Psalmodikon
    • Fiol
    • Klarinett
    • Dragspel och munspel
    • Slutnoter
    • Litteratur
  • Anna Johnson: Om fäbodarnas musik
    • Inledning
    • Fäbodsväsendet
    • Om buföring
    • Fäbodmusikens miljö
    • Den instrumentala fäbodmusiken
    • Om vallningen
    • Den vokala fäbodmusiken
    • Fäbodmusikens omvandlingar
    • Fäbodmusiken och forskningen
    • Slutnoter
    • Litteratur
  • Märta Ramsten: Om folklig vissång
    • Inledning
    • Tre kvinnors visrepertoar
      • Lena Larsson (1882-1967)
      • Ulrika Lindholm (1882-1977)
      • Svea Jansson (1904-1980)
      • Sammanfattning
    • Vissång under 1600-talet
    • Vissång under 1700-talet
    • Vissång under 1800-talet och framåt
    • Vaggvisor
    • Balladen
    • Skillingtryck
    • Sång- och danslekar
    • Slutnoter
    • Litteratur
  • Gunnar Ternhag: Om folkmusikens källor
    • Inledning
    • Den tidiga insamlingen av folkmusik
    • Insamlingsarbetet intensifieras
    • Folkmusikarkiv i Norden
    • Folkmusikupptecknare
    • Slutnoter
    • Litteratur
  • Ville Roempke: Om spelmansrörelsen
    • Inledning
    • Spelmanstävlingar
    • Spelmansstämman
    • Folkdanslag
    • Folkdansringen
    • Spelmansförbund
    • Zornmärket
    • Spelmanslag
    • Sveriges spelmäns riksförbund
    • 50-talet
    • 60-talet
    • 70-talet
    • Slutnoter
    • Litteratur

Traditional folk music in Sweden until 1977
by Rikskonserter and Svenskt Visarkiv, text by Märta Ramsten (translation: Fred Lane)

It is recommended to read and listen to the entire Traditional folk music in Sweden , or to just look at the structure and listen to the music examples below:

Swedish folk music - from village greens to concert platform
By Dan Lundberg, Director of Svenskt visarkiv
(Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research)
Professor at the University of Gävle. Senior lecturer in musicology at the University of Stockholm.

It is recommended to read and listen to the entire Swedish folk music - from village greens to concert platform or to just look at the structure and listen to the music examples below:


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