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Old 08-03-2009, 09:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
killedmyraindog
 
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Default Define Folk

I remember picking up an Australian guy from the Airport once, and trying to be hospitable I asked what he listened to.

As I recall i think he said Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. My shotgun said "oh so like folk music."

"well its not what I'd call folk, but sure"

I'm sure its not what many would call folk, but I'd like to know why. Not that I agree, I just want to know what makes folk - for you - folk.

And to throw some heat on this fire, I attest strongly that rap is folk music. So if you don't care to define folk, tell me why I'm wrong about rap being folk.
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, generally when I refer to folk I'm thinking pared down acoustic guitar, without the twang of country, but there is a certain liltingness to the tone that would separate it in my mind from Jack Johnson. But drawing a line is difficult for me, this is just some shaky border I threw up in my head.

I couldn't call rap folk music, because if you want to use the term to mean a culture's traditional music (which is the tack I'm assuming you're taking) then I would think it needs a longer running heritage than rap's fairly short history and growth. And besides, genre labels are basically a tool to help us classify music and so sort through it easier, it sort of defeats their purpose to label rap as some other name which almost universally brings to mind a completely different form of music.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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folk music usually varies from culture to culture, and is heavily influenced by regional identity. Folk incorporates native instruments, like the kora in Africa or the Guitarron in Mexico, and uses established rhythms that occasionally derive from religious customs or spiritual ceremony. Subject matter tends to relate to local mythologies or come from a period of great suffering, like slavery in America or pogroms in eastern europe.

I wouldn't say that rap falls under the banner of traditional folk music because it varies so greatly and takes a lot from previous genres like soul/blues. However, if you look at rap using the contemporary definition of folk, one that loosely defines it as grassroots-esque, then I guess you could make a case for it.

Last edited by anticipation; 08-03-2009 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Agreeing with anticipation on this one. It's kind of a difficult genre to define, really. It's almost a sense that comes over me when I hear it, that I know "this is folk".
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Old 08-03-2009, 03:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fruitonica View Post
I couldn't call rap folk music, because if you want to use the term to mean a culture's traditional music (which is the tack I'm assuming you're taking) then I would think it needs a longer running heritage than rap's fairly short history and growth. And besides, genre labels are basically a tool to help us classify music and so sort through it easier, it sort of defeats their purpose to label rap as some other name which almost universally brings to mind a completely different form of music.

for one thing, the idea of Black People in America is a fairly recent concept. That is to say, the mainstream cultural acceptence isn't that far along. I think I have relatives who were alive when they segregated water fountains in this country.

Not to mention that a culture must be built. One of the more horrifying entities of slavery is the robbery of cultural identity. i didn't intend for this to be a race thing, but theres a scene in Roots where they demand he use his English name and they whip him until he stops saying "Kunta."

Rap also has its roots in the spoken word and slam poetry that came from roughly the 60's. The Black American culture isn't always easily defined, but its strong I'd say. You had tons of people in the 80's wear those shirts that said "its a black thing, you wouldn't understand" well, they seem to believe they've carved out their niche.

As for genre wars, I think the concerpt of folk music predates labels. I'd think it has more relevence than happy hardcore or viking death metal.
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i usually consider it to be acoustic music that's natural (atleast a little) and doesn't have a hillbilly accent.
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Old 08-03-2009, 05:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 08-03-2009, 05:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Morbid soul music.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:44 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBig3KilledMyRainDog View Post
for one thing, the idea of Black People in America is a fairly recent concept. That is to say, the mainstream cultural acceptence isn't that far along. I think I have relatives who were alive when they segregated water fountains in this country.

Not to mention that a culture must be built. One of the more horrifying entities of slavery is the robbery of cultural identity. i didn't intend for this to be a race thing, but theres a scene in Roots where they demand he use his English name and they whip him until he stops saying "Kunta."

Rap also has its roots in the spoken word and slam poetry that came from roughly the 60's. The Black American culture isn't always easily defined, but its strong I'd say. You had tons of people in the 80's wear those shirts that said "its a black thing, you wouldn't understand" well, they seem to believe they've carved out their niche.

As for genre wars, I think the concerpt of folk music predates labels. I'd think it has more relevence than happy hardcore or viking death metal.
I hope we can all agree that folk is more relevant than viking death metal he , but yes I would consider folk to be a type of meta-genre somewhat akin to pop, which can be outlined in several different ways, not all of them relating to the sonic qualities of the music.

I actually like your point about the relatively short time frame for black Americans to ferment a culture, and hip hop's role in it's growth. So much that I'm tending to agree with you, (perhaps a first in arguments over the internet).
Although, I wonder whether the conditions of the globalised world that rap has developed (and exploded) into, are so different from the development traditional forms of folk music underwent in their relatively insular cultures that it makes the application somewhat pointless.

Last edited by Fruitonica; 08-04-2009 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:04 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Although, I wonder whether the conditions of the globalised world that rap has developed (and exploded) into, are so different from the development traditional forms of folk music underwent in their relatively insular cultures that it makes the application somewhat pointless.
Zeppelin used Middle Eastern chords, Paul Simon robbed more from Africa than Zales.

Its perfectly fine to borrow if a form is established, but I don't know if it diminishes the origin story behind it.

Country music borrows strongly from celtic music, but what was Irish certainly still is. It more a testiment to the art form than the given culture around it.

Oh and hey thanks for the compliment. I do what I can.
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