The Topic:
Folk Music

For biographies and information on specific folk music singers, visit our companion website titled Biographies of Folksingers. There you will find lots more websites for a select collection of performers, too many to fit onto this page.
Easier - Folk music is traditional melodies, words, and songs of the common people that are often handed down from one generation to the next.
Harder - Folk music songs deal with almost every kind of human activity. Folk music often expresses the character of ethnic and social groups and sometimes a nation. It is the music of the people. A folk song can express political or religious beliefs, tell a story or describe history, or just provide amusement.
Folk music is usually learned by listening rather than by reading the notes or words. The music is shared from person to person, from place to place, and from generation to generation. Folk song sometimes change either by accident or from a purposeful alteration. Folk song melodies and words often evolve over time. Tunes are shortened or lengthened, pitches and rhythms are altered, and portions of one song may be combined with part of another. Words of a song may also change over time.
Folk songs can often be classified into different types. The ballad, a song that tells a story often about real events, is one of the main types of folk song. Ballads are in stanza form, where a melody is repeated for each of several verses, and may have a refrain that is repeated several times. Another type of folk song is those that deal with a particular activity, occupation, or set of circumstances. This group includes work songs, prison songs, war songs, and the like. There are also spiritual songs, songs for children, songs about life's stages, and many songs are just for celebration, dance, and enjoyment.
Folk Music at Wikipedia
This site includes definitions, history, and descriptions of folk music.
Other Comprehensive Websites:
2) Folk File: A Folkie's Dictionary by B. Markwick
3) FolkLib Index : A Library of Folk Music Links
4) folkmusic dot org
5) Folk Music Home Page
6) Folk Stuff
7) Folk U.S.A. by R. Daly
John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip from American Memory, Library of Congress
Related Websites:
2) American Folk Music from Wikipedia
3) California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties from American
Memory, Library of Congress
4) Folk Music Archives
5) This Land is Your Land: Rural Music & the Depression
Great Folk Scare and the Folkniks
This website highlights folk and protest singers of the folk boom from the late 1950s through early 1960s.
Other Revival Websites:
2) Bringing It All Back Home - The Folk Music Revival by P. Jacobs
3) Folk Music Revival at Wikipedia
4) Folk Song Club Beginnings
5) Hootenanny from TVParty
Mudcat Cafe
This online magazine concentrates on blues and folk music and includes a database of over 8,000 songs.
Other Online Folk Music Magazines:
2) Folk World (European folk music)
3) Hornpipe: Folk Music in the Southern Regions
4) Roots World
5) Sing Out!
After visiting several of the websites, have fun completing one or more of the following projects.
Make Your Own Music Instruments. You can get started with ideas and directions found at Make Your Own Instruments from Mudcat for Kids. If you have enough people, you can start a folk music band.
Learn to Yodel. Get started with the lessons found at The Internet Yodel Course. Remember the disclaimer: 'I (we) take no responsibility for the consequences of yodeling in social situations. This includes: lawsuits, strange looks, uproarious laughing, traffic accidents, major moves (up or down) in the stock market, . . .' Also, you might have fun visiting the Yodel Juke Box at Yodel! ('Til You Get Polyps).
Compare and Contrast - Folk Music Versus Rock & Roll. How are the two music genres alike and how are they different. Present your ideas visually using Inspiration software. For more information, visit another eduScapes 42eXplore project: Rock 'n Roll Music. Alternative activity - - compare and contrast Folk music to Jazz, Country, Rap, Hip Hop, or some other music genre.
Complete A Folk Music WebQuest. Adapt or follow the procedures found at the following webQuest site.
Cajun Folk Music by J. Mellen
Learn to Play the Harmonica. How about learning to play an instrument often used in Folk music? You can find some online help at the following sites. Learn something new; practice every day.
1) Beginners: Start Here
2) Harmonica Info and Tips from D. Gage
3) Harmonica Lessons
4) Learn to Play Harmonica
5) This Harmonica Is For "YOU" from Charlie The Harmonica Man
Learn to Play Guitar. Once you have access to an instrument, you can find some online help at the following websites. Keep at it; be patient.
1) Beginner Guitar Lesson Archive from
2) Guitar Instruction from WholeNote
3) Guitar Lessons
4) Guitar Lessons form
5) Guitar Lessons On Line (Links-site)
6) Guitar Noise Guitar Lessons
7) Kyle's Virtual Guitar Lessons
8) Online Guitar Lessons (Links-site)
9) Ted's (Mathews) Guitar
Campaign for Your Favorite Folksinger. Select a favorite all-time folksinger. You might start by visiting some of the websites at Biographies of Folksingers. Then select the one best folk performer. Identify the characteristics that you most admire or like. Create a promotion piece that can be used to inform others of your selection; a poster, multimedia presentation, website, etc. Display the final promotion product. Alternative project idea - - instead of a favorite folksinger, select and promote a top folk song - - the 'Greatest Folk Song in Music History.'
More Websites for Folk Music
Accordion Dreams from PBS
When the European button accordion arrived in Texas, musicians merged its use with traditional Mexican songs to gave birth to an explosive new sound.
American Roots Music from PBS
Discover the pioneers of the musical forms that combined in America to sweep pervasively around the world: Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Cajun, zydeco, Tejano, and Native American.
Archives of African American Music and Culture from Indiana University
This is the website of an organization devoted to the collection, preservation, and dissemination of materials for the purpose of research and study of African American music and culture.
This is the site of a filtered selection of mp3s (some are free), CDs, discussion groups, and more for folk, bluegrass, Celtic, and country music.
Related Site:
Sampler of “Folk” Music, 1920s-1960s
Folk Music by D. Brown
This links-site connects to resources for folk music, tunes and lyrics, performers, periodicals, instruments, and much more.
Related Sites:
2) Folk Roots List from EntsWeb Entertainment & Music Directory
3) International Folk Dancing and Music
4) Ethnomusicology, Folk Music, and World Music from University of Washington
Music Library
Folk Music Index to Recordings by J. Keefer
This site provides a huge database if information on traditional and tradition-based music.
Related Website:
2) Old-Time Music by D. Lynch
History in Song
Here you find information about the songs and songwriters throughout American history.
Related Website:
2) Thomas Hampson: I Hear America Singing from PBS
Hobgoblin Music
This website is packed with information about instruments for folk, traditional and Celtic music.
2) Glossary of Folk Musical Instruments & Styles from Around the World
Roots Music Report
Roots Music encompasses a variety of different musical genres and their offshoots, such as alternative country, traditional country, American folk, blues, and bluegrass--all forms of music that are themselves deeply rooted in, and directly proportional to, the ongoing development of American society and culture.
Related Websites:
2) Folk and Roots
World Folk Music Association
This is the website of an organization dedicated to promoting contemporary and traditional folk music, and spreading the word to fans and folk artists.
Folk Music Around the World
African Music Resources Online from African Music Archive
This links-site connects to numerous online resources for African music.
Ethnomusicology, Folk Music, and World Music from Univ. of Washington Music Library
This site provides an extensive and well-organized set of links on the folk music of every world region.
Related Website:
2) International Music Archives
Here you find information on this Spanish folk music and dance. Site contains articles on several aspects of flamenco, from its history to discussions on musical theory and technique.
Folk Instruments of Ukraine by V. Mishalow
Explore the varied string, wind, and percussion instruments native to this Eastern European country.
Related Website:
Folk Music of Britain, Ireland, & America
This site contains historical background, tune information, lyrics and midi files for the traditional music of the British Isles and America.
Hardanger Fiddle Association of America
Here is the website of an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Norwegian folk music and dance and devoted to Norway's national instrument, the hardingfele.
Mexican Folk Music Links from Alegria
This is a links site to tons of websites for Mexican folk music.
Folk Songs
American Folksongs
Here is a collection of folksongs, hymns, and spirituals of America.
Related Website:
2) Anthology of American Folk Music, Edited by Harry Smith
Australian Folk Songs
This collection has words, music and information about each song.
Folksong Index
This music archive contains airs, anthems, ballads, canons, ditties, folksongs, hymns and war songs from around the World.
Traditional Ballad Index by R.Waltz and D.G. Engle
This site provides reference information on ballads. It is not itself a source of song texts or of discussion of ballads, although it contains some summary information.
Campfire Sing-Along
Here you find a collection of folk songs to sing around the fire.
Richard Robinson's Tunebook
This is a collection of traditional tunes, and new tunes in traditional styles - Scots tunes, Irish tunes, Scandinavian, English, French, Balkan and more.
Sheet Music
This site offers 600 selections of free sheet music including classical songs, hymns, children's songs, ragtime music, folk songs and traditional Christmas carols.
Websites For Teachers
Folk Music Explorations (Grades 7-8) by D. Bentson-Royal
This research lesson examines the qualities of Folk Music? How are they the same and how are they different in each country?
Sing a Tale
As students explore traditional folktales from around the world, they will begin to see many common themes and literary elements emerge.
Tapping the Roots of American Music (Grades 7-12) from PBS
Here is a teacher's guide for using the American Roots Music documentary series in the social studies and history classroom.
Folk music
Bluegrass music
protest song
rock & roll
musical instrument
Country music
mountain music
Blues music
Western music
Jazz music
spiritual folksong
Greenwich Village
live performance
Folk music revival
singer / songwriter
beat generation
roots music
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 4/02.