A broad term applied to many kinds of
music. Also called Traditional Music.
There is often no known author/composer.
It is passed down aurally/orally.
It is indigenous music that evokes the culture and
lifestyle of the people from which it comes.
Indigenous: having originated in and being produced,
growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular
region or environment.
American Hymn (liturgical text or scripture was often
set to folk tunes)
Russian Folk Song
Polish Folk Music/Dance
Spanish Folk Music/Dance
Many folk songs are modal. That is, they use only the notes
in a particular scale (series of pitches).
There are 7 modes. If you use only the white keys on the
piano, you can play the notes in a mode by starting on any
key and playing the seven ascending notes.
C – Ionian (major scale)
D – Dorian
E – Phrygian
F – Lydian
G – Mixolydian
A – Aeolian (minor scale)
B – Locrian
The Doctrine of Ethos: the ancient Greeks believed
that music possessed moral qualities and could affect
character and behavior.
Plato recommended two modes, or styles of song, the
Dorian and Phrygian because they fostered the virtues
of temperance and courage.
When the settlers came to America they sang German
chorales and British Psalms (Ein Feste Burg ist unser
Eventually they began to sing hymns composed by
Isaac Watts during the Great Awakening.
Many hymns were set to folk tunes.
New Britain – Amazing Grace
Green sleeves – What child is This
Saw Ye My Jonny – Saw Ye My Savior
A small pocket sized book containing the lyrics and
sometimes also the music of hymns.
Singing School – Singing Masters would travel from
town to town. Often entire towns would attend. It
was also viewed as an opportunity for courtship among
the young people.
Shape-note Notation: fa represented as a triangle, sol
as a circle, la as a square, mi as a diamond, etc.
Much of Russian folk music was sung a cappella.
Instruments were forbidden in church.
Russian folk songs tend to move within a narrow
range. Rhythmic patterns are often repeated. The
meter is often mixed (4/4 time may change to 3/2 time
then back again). They are generally modal.
The words are very important – poetry.
a stringed instrument of Russian origin, with a
characteristic triangular body and 3 strings
Songs are sung at important rituals and events.
Mazurka – a traditional Polish dance that emphasizes
the weak beats (or off-beats).
Accompanied by dudy or gajdy (Polish Bagpipes)
Melody would be played on fujarka (shepherd’s pipe)
Dancers stamp or click heals on the displaced beats.
Poland’s folk music often used the lydian mode. The
lydian mode has a raised 4th.
Spain has over 1000 types of dance.
Dances can be ritual or non-ritual.
Ritual dances are performed by specially rehearsed
Non-ritual dances have simple steps and can be
danced by anyone.
Traditionally, Flamenco is learned by watching
relatives or friends.
It is a dance accompanied by guitar
The dancer uses hand claps – palmas sordas, finger
snaps – pitos, and stomping – taconeo, to express the
music and rhythm.
The Phrygian mode is typically used.