Folk Music and the Acoustic Guitar

Folk music is also known as “traditional music” and is sometimes referred to as world music or root music. This is because folk music comes from tribal and very basic songs, and this style of music is considered to be the first and original style of organized, structured music known to man. The purpose of folk music was originally to tell stories and tell tales of love, loss, and adventure. Sea shanty tunes are a prime example of old folk music. The music originally began as a method of story telling. Ancient tribes would write and sing songs about every day life, particularly in Europe. The music was often heard in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Piano, flute, and stringed instruments were often used. Over time, however, American folk music has changed and had begun to take the shape of a different format. In the 1930s, folk music was beginning to be exposed in the United States. Later, artists like Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Joan Baez became good, standard examples of modern folk music artists. This type of music really began to manifest itself during this time period.

Over many centuries, folk music was adopted as a traditional form of music, and then swept the United States with a true fervor, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The acoustic guitar was an absolutely essential part of the production and sound of folk music. It helped to shape the songwriter’s emotions, and was a portable and simple instrument, allowing the singer to play in different venues and travel with his or her instrument. The guitar created a melody that the songwriter could build a simple song around. It also helped to portray emotions through basic, earthy sounding music. Folk music’s purpose is to tell stories in the form of a song, whether they are about real life or imaginary happenings. Through the use of words, emotion, and music, it has reached millions of people and become an integral part of the bigger musical picture.

There are certain types of chord progressions used to make folk music. While every song is different, these basic chords are what many artists use when playing the acoustic guitar and composing folk songs. Some classic American folk music songs include “This Land is Your Land,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Some other examples are “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “The Tennessee Stud,” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.” These songs and many others have shaped the American landscape and given people a clear image of classic music. Some folks songs actually made the top ten on the Billboard charts and took off in popularity. The writers and their style of folk music are what make the songs so unique. Each songwriter has his or her own style of writing, and they all compose touching music that emulates the American lifestyle. Today, many indie artists are re-visiting the older folk music style. Artists like Iron and Wine and alt-country artist Lyle Lovett are both examples of modern folk artists.