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Traditional Anglo American Folk Music


The research on traditional Anglo-American Folk Music is based on its formation or origin and how it is being performed. Traditional Anglo-American Folk Music has a rich history in the United States due to its contribution to the liberation and its correlation with American culture. However, the research analyses the history of Anglo-American Folk Music, analyzes and presents the Ethnomusicological Theme, critically analyzes Anglo-American Folk Music and also presents an interview conducted with one of the Anglo-American Folk Music artists.


The United States has a collection of music that can be traced from the pre-colonial period. Folk and fiddle music are mostly traditional music with a rich history in the United States. The fiddle and folks’ music started long before the British colonization though they became more popular during the struggle due to the message they conveyed to the public. According to Cohen (2013), American traditional music such as Anglo-American Ballads II, Lyric Songs, African American Spirituals, Work Songs, and Afro-American blues are some of the music which has lasted many decades and has specific messages related to American culture.

Research has indicated that American traditional music speaks a lot about the American generation and cultural practices. As stated by Cohen (2013), some of the American genres are blues, country music, rock, rhythm and blues, soul, and hip hop. By estimation, the United States has the highest number of musical collections in the world, valued at 4,898.5 million by 2015 (Kinzer, 2012). However, there are several American kinds of music that have gained a global audience and, therefore, spread American culture across the globe. It is, therefore, important to understand the contribution of music to cultural building and the role that music played during the liberation of the early 1960s.

Significance of the study

This research paper focuses on the influence of traditional music in the United States, and therefore, it shall discuss the contribution of Anglo-American Folks’ Music to the struggle for the liberation of the people. It is important to note that traditional music, such as Anglo-American Folks Music, is special music to the society, and therefore, this study looks deep into their contrition to cultural building, their significance to the struggle, and the way they were composed and performed by artists. The study has, therefore, established the correlation between the fight for liberation and Anglo-American Folk Music. It brings out the role played by different actors in shaping the political movements and ideologies in the United States. This is because several studies have established that Anglo-American Folks Music expressed political ideologies and fought for economic freedom of the people, and therefore, the study allows us to understand the contribution it made towards the achievement in society.


Anglo-American Music was brought to the United States by British Colonists from the British Isla during the 18th century. It might show anthropologists how a deep-rooted can die since it has evolved for decades but still remains the preferred music across the states (Bayard, 1999). In the country where it came from, Anglo-American is regarded as a messenger to the people and it was developed through art where its main characteristics are idioms, satire, and melodic style. It was developed to offer a conventional mannerism of rendition. It was merely associated with unschooled people and a group of people in society. It was started as a community band or music performance in Isle and grew to be the most preferred music across many nations. However, in the United States, Anglo-American Folk music has grown in phases since it was brought here by the British colonists. It was brought to America during the period of colonization. Bayard (1999) noted that different types of folk music continued to enter the country until the 19th century, and therefore, the history of Anglo-American Folk Music can be traced back to the period of colonization and the second struggle for liberation, which occurred in the early 1960s.

In the early days, the Anglo-American folk music was being performed by unschooled people, and it was referred to as community music. Most of its members were less learned and had no financial support to afford instruments. Therefore, the music was being performed by word of mouth. There were dancers who performed throughout the music session. The instruments used were guitars and flutes, and some were performed using drums as well. Mostly Anglo-American Folk Music was performed at clubs and different parties and along the street. It is because of the message that it had to convey to the public (Schaefer, 2015).

However, some of the noticeable personalities associated with Anglo American Folk Music are Woody Guthrie 1912-1967, Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Bobby Dylan, Joan Boez, and Joni Mitchell. These individuals participate uniquely in the building of Anglo-American Folk Music in the United States. It is noted that Woody Guthrie composed and sang several folk music such as “Goin’ Down, This Land is Your Land, and So Long It Has Been Good to Know Ya”, which were some of the political notation Anglo American Folk Music that was performed by Woody to restore hope and aspiration to the people. Nevertheless, some of the known current Anglo-American Folk music artists are Hillfolk Noir, Low Lily, and Alasdair Roberts, who perform various pop songs in southern Florida and Arizona, where Anglo-American folks are popular. Hillfolk Noir is one of the greatest Anglo-American folk music artists known in southern America. He composed and sang various folk albums at different joints, clubs, and parties. The music and all the performances have changed. The order is visible, and the level of composition shows a clear distinction between the Anglo American Music of the early days, the 1960s and the 20th century. The transformation in the industry is vivid since current artists have a high-powered guitar and drums, and this makes the mode of performance and sound different compared to early performances.

During the 1960s, the Anglo-American Folk music was also popular among the American people. Most Anglo-American Folk music of the 1960s was songs for remembrance and the fight for equality and liberation of the people. Though the performers were different, the message and the mode of singing were still similar. Some of the noticeable artists of the 1960s are Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodley. Pete Seeger sang a song called “If I Had a Hammer “, which was a song dedicated to his brother. He took part in the composition and writing of different Anglo-American Folk Music and therefore, the history of Anglo-American folk songs cannot be completed without mentioning Pete Seeger.


The interview was conducted on April 10, 2018, with a San Francisco Folksinger Meg Baird. Meg Baird is a known artist who has composed and sung several Folk songs and has a band called Philly-based psych-folk band Espers. Baird has a wealth of history in Anglo-American Folk since he started singing as a young person, and for the last decades, he has been actively singing Anglo American folk Songs across the state. Some of his songs are called “Don’t Weigh Down the Light,” which is one of the dedication songs. The music is blended with electric and acoustic guitars which make the music have a sweet melodic voice.

The interview focuses on the emergence of Anglo-American Folk Music and its contribution to society. The first question was about the year Anglo-American Folk music started in the United States. 1) “When did you start performing folk music?” Baird narrated that he started performing folk music as a teenager. He said that his father loved folks and they used to attend events and later joined a group of community boys who used to perform the Anglo American Folks music. From there, they started to perform on the street, later in clubs and in other joints.

He said that “folk songs used to be for local boys and it was not difficult joining by those days.” The second question was about the band composition and instruments. 2. “What kind of instruments do you and who composed your music?” He stated that instruments are used in performing guitar and flutes, but the message is always passed through word of mouth. Baird further pointed out that Folk music revolved, and in the early days, the instruments used were simple. 3.) What kind of messages does folk music convey to the listeners? “Folks’ music talks about the history of the people and it conveys the message of hope and inspiration.

Baird went further to state that folk music was established during colonization, and therefore, most Anglo-American folk music contains the message of hope, determination, and hard work. He further illustrated that the music is in satirical form so that everyone could not understand it easily. About the origin of the Anglo-American Folks’s music, Baird noted that though the origin of music can be traced to Isle, most of the Anglo-American Music, which started in the 1960s, has a root in the United States.

On the question of what enticed him to start the Anglo American Folk music instead of other music. Baird noted that folk music is unique from the way it is performed to the connection it has to the local culture, and therefore, he joined folk music to prevent the loss of its culture and connect with the local people. However, the interview ended well with Baird stating that folk music is the original American music and it is the reason it is embraced by Americans. The interview took approximately two hours (2 hours); however, all the answers and questions were noted down for clarity and also to make sure that detailed information is obtained, which can help in the completion of the research paper.

Ethnomusicological Theme

The Anglo America Folk Music is associated with American Culture in many ways. The performance of folk music reflects the historical aspect of the United States, and therefore, it portrays the connection between music and culture. As stated by Cohen (2013), American folk songs are locally composed and sung and therefore, it has a cultural context in it. It is also noted that Anglo-American folk music performances are all traditional and therefore, their performance represents the American traditional culture. However, it is essential to note that folk music’s history can be traced to the colonial era due to the role it played towards liberation in the early days and during the 1960s. It was composed and performed by different groups of people to express the frustration of the community against British rule and to show the American culture. Woody Guthrie is a known performer and composer of Anglo-American folk music. Woody Guthrie’s music was composed to urge the people to keep hope alive during the try times. Woody Guthrie performed in several clubs, cultural events, and beaches to spread a simple message of aspiration. Therefore, it is important to note that the majority of Anglo-American music had a special message of hope and struggle to deliver to the listeners.

Lyrics analysis

The Anglo-American Folk Music lyrics were conveyed by word of mouth. It was popular music performed by a group of local men though the tone and the message were clear. Most Anglo-American music is sung like choirs with guitars, flutes, and even drums. It is performed in a group of five to ten people. It is associated with “cowboy” due to the dress code of the performance. The Anglo-American folk music message is about the struggle and hardship which people endured during the period. It conveys a message of determination to the people. Since the music started during colonization, it was started to be used to communicate the message to colonists. Though some people have argued that Anglo-American folk music originated from the island, studies have established that a lot of folk music was started here in the United States. Therefore, the message being conveyed by the music is America’s message of hope which is coiled to keep the people acting so that they do not lose hope for a better tomorrow.

The Anglo-American music includes a variety of broadside ballads, tall tales, humorous stories, and disaster songs. The Anglo-American Music used to tell stories about murders, mining, shipwrecks, and other practices deemed but being practiced by the British Colonists in New England. According to Cohen (2013), Anglo-American Music is typically American cultural music that connects the past with the current to remind listeners of the happenings in society. The Anglo-American Folks Music originated from square dance, which is a descent from the European high society quadrille. The music is combined with certain American innovations known as caller instructing, the Sea Shanties are a very essential part of Anglo-American Music.

The Anglo American Folk Music is one of the traditional and typical American Music which expresses the life of people in the community and it is passed through generations. The original term for Folk music is the music composed and performed by people to showcase their lifestyle. It is the music that has survived for many generations without being washed off by mass communication, revolution, and change of culture. It is music for everybody since it has no class boundary and therefore, it is performed and loved by the whole community. The Anglo-American Folk Music is transmitted through word of mouth since it is performed by the mouth using traditional instruments.

However, the journey of Anglo-American Music is long and it played an important role in shaping American society. The Anglo-American Songs range from different subject matters such as work, economic hardship, civil rights, and war which made the major part of the satire and love songs it presents. The Anglo-American Folks’s Music was about struggle and hardship at the same time, they were full of hope (Cohen, 2013). It brought out words of encouragement to workers urging them to go to a place in the world where they can work without facing hardship. It is a message of the end of hardship, and it was evident in most Anglo-American folk’ Music through the early days. The research established that much of Anglo-American Folk Music is about war, conflicts, and poverty. Several people came to the United States during the early days, escaping poverty, war, and conflicts in their countries. And therefore, they started Anglo-American folk songs to reflect their history.

Critical Analysis of the Anglo American Folk Music

Critical analysis of the music established that Anglo-American Music originated among the village people or common people of a region and spread all over the country and to the rest of the world. The Anglo Anglo-American folk music is portrayed in its simple melodies. It is referred to as the music of traditions because of its simple style. Its simplicity is a symbol of culture and a reflection of the community. It is because, in the early days, the American local community lived in the villages where their lives were simple (Rice, 2012). It is also because of the message that the music was supposed to convey to the masses. It reflects the rural setup since it originated from rural areas. The Anglo-American Folk music was composed and performed by non-professionals, and it used to be understood by a good percentage of the population.

The United States was born out of struggle after years of hardship and suffering, and several aspects contributed to its achievements. Anglo-American Music became more popular again in the 1950s and 91960s when it was performed and celebrated by almost every man or woman on the street (Lomax, 2002). It is noted that folk music contributed to the achievement of the African Americans during the struggle to end slavery. It started when African Americans gathered along the streets and their houses to sing and worship the Lord. It gave many people hope that things shall well no matter the difficult it seems to be. The basic foundation of folk music was about domestic life since it conveyed messages about love, work, religious faith, rearing of children, and family.

It is believed that Anglo-American folk music was discovered at the right time when it was needed most. It is because the folk song of the 1960s was needed to convey the message of anti-slavery, and the early folk music was against colonization therefore, most of the music conveyed the specific message. It urged people to rise up and take their countries from the British rulers, which later took place. Therefore, Anglo-American Folk Music came at the right time when it was needed most to help in accomplishing a task. For instance, music like “Down by the Riverside” and “We Shall Overcome” was a folk song sung to encourage slaves that one day slavery would end, and therefore, it is music meant to restore hope and give the oppressed a give to live for another day.


Anglo-American Folk Music has a wealth of history since it started, and it has played several significant roles in society. It was composed and performed by a group of nonprofessionals in the community, and therefore, it was generally associated with the local people. Anglo-American folk music conveys a special message to listeners, and most of its messages are about hope, determination, love, peace, famine, and endurance. Therefore, it was one of the music which was used by Americans to fight for change in society. It also represents American culture because it was performed by guitar, and the message was passed by word of mouth. It played a critical role in the history of American liberation in the 1960s to end slavery so that everyone could be treated equally.


Bayard, S. P. (1999). Decline and “Revival” of Anglo-American Folk Music. Journal Articole of

Anthropology , 12-45.

Cohen, N. (2013). Traditional Anglo-American folk music : an annotated discography of

published sound recordings. New York : Garland.

Kinzer, J. M. (2012). Hootenanny, Hootin’ Annie, Will You Dance with Me? Music of the

American Folk Music Revival. Folk song All the way , 2-14.

Lomax, A. (2002). Anglo-American shanties, lyric songs, dance tunes, and spirituals.

Washington DC: Library of Congress, Division of Music.

Rice, T. (2012). Modeling Ethnomusicology. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Schaefer, J. (2015). Anglo-American Folk Songs. 2-45.



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