Can folk music survive the continuum of space and time? Does it actually suffice itself as a form of art that still manages to retain its relevance? As you can see, there is no definite praxis to which these questions can be answered. There can only be a deeper understanding and unlearning of things that come up in a commercialized space. So, without any inhibitions, let’s call dibs on space and time to start an investigation on such poignant questions. The persistence of folk songs is a shared one. Being a subset of folklore, folk music also retains the transmissible aspects of it. There can be two describable categories of folk music, one where it sprouts from oral traditions – passed on through the generations, and the other one being from the traditional music of the 20th century. Now, given the assumption that folk music has managed to survive the tumultuous times of the 21st century, the investigation will rely mostly on the aspects that deal with its relevance rather than its survival limit.
Commercial Music vs Folk Music
At the expense of sounding academically jarring, western scholars had defined folk music as an anonymous entity of communal roots played and accessed by anyone and everyone, altering itself with each transmission and existing in parallels. So, if you were to distinguish between folk and commercial music, the latter retains in consumed potential through professionally trained artists with a USP to sell and permeate. In the face of rapid urbanization, the reading of folk music can be done from the 1930s to post world-war timelines where the former saw its orientation rooted in left-wing politics with a weaponized ardor to sing songs of revolution. On the other hand, post-war aesthetics of folk music attracted an educated demographic that saw it as an alternative to what dominated the mainstream. But in the face of blatant commercialization, folk music seems to walk on eggshells since its non-commercial origins faced the fragility of time.
Although the blurred lines of commercial and anti-commercial seem to overlap in the case of folk music, it could, however, retain the latter component which we even get to see through its revival. The aura of folk music still stood on the understanding of anti-commercial and anti-mainstream sentiment – a perfect antithesis to the popular. Even at the face of consumer conformity, folk music has dug out and articulated the discontent of the marginalized – radical affluence understood in the context of it being a part of the counterculture.
“The Times They Are A-Changin”
From Woody Guthrie to Lady Gaga, the permeation of folk music can be seen as an alliance that stood against the test of time. Even in an era of commercialization and enhanced accessibility, the fertility of folk music can’t be marred under skepticism. With the internet, the music fails to have a vanguard role since the roots are now branches and branches are transmissible. It is also to be noted that the structural simplicity of folk music can’t be used as a card to dismiss similar offerings of its contemporary variant since folk music is the flow. So, does it still impact the social structures? Of course, it does, folk music is built to be a bottle with a message, it floats across the sea only to find a shore. It’s trans-generational and more than its acoustic stereotypes.
If you feel like you want to have a better understanding of how it’s still transmissible? Look at the young folk artists of the 21st century. You can browse them on Playtomee and play a digital concert of them live at the comfort of your couch. To quote Louis Armstrong, “All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.”
Live and Strong
Folk Music is minimal and extravagant at the same time. You still don’t believe it? Go through Playtoome which is a digital platform offering remote live music concerts with a curated list of your favorite artists and genres.