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What are Folk Songs

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Music over the years has been used not only for entertainment, but also to address various issues affecting the society. Folk songs have been in the forefront of addressing various societal issues such as politics, war, religion or education. Folk songs refer to a traditional genre of music that is passed down from one generation  to the other within a community while depicting the society in general. They have their own characteristics just like any other genre. This type of songs is usually composed by members of that particular community. Consequently, a writer of the song fully understands the issues affecting their community.

The term folk song refers to a narrative song with traditional melody that represents ideas on a particular topic. Most of the topics that are used in folk songs are those which concern the society at a particular time. They include political affairs, wars, drought, work and other popular themes. Most folk songs have been in existence for so long that their composers are unknown in most cases. This type of songs is passed from one generation to the other in a particular community and evolve to deal with current issues.

Some folk songs such as ‘This Land is Yours’ by  Woody Gothrie has definite origins. Such songs are honest, poignant and timeless so that they are in close interrelation with a particular culture and everyone knows them. Folk songs are typically focused on the community and those issues that are of a primary importance to them.

Contemporary folk songs deal with issues such as terrorism, love, war, education, voting and religion. They are composed of music which is derived directly or indirectly from ancient folk songs but influenced substantially by popular music. Modern folk songs are quite distinct from traditional folk songs, although they maintain a stylistic interconnection. An ultimate pattern of ancient folk songs is  also evident.

 Folk songs are characterized by its traditional oral transmission. When folk songs originated, most people were illiterate and acquired songs through memorization asthere were no books, recorders or media to transmit them. Moreover, this music had a close relationship to the national culture and was used to commemorate personal and historical events. Folk songs cannot be connected wih the term copyright due to the fact that most of them have unknown composers. They have been passed over from one generation to the other with various alterations in them.

Folk music is a traditional genre popular up to the present days age as it depicts the history of a certain community. Therefore, they contribute to the world peace and togetherness. 

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