Traditional music
Overview
 
Traditional music is the term increasingly used (e.g. by the Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s) for folk music that is not contemporary folk music. More on this is at the terminology section of the World music article. Other organizations have made similar changes, although it remains common to refer to traditional music as "folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

".
From a historical perspective, traditional music had these characteristics:
  • It was transmitted through an oral tradition
    Oral tradition
    Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

    .
Before the twentieth century, ordinary farm workers and factory workers were illiterate.
Encyclopedia
Traditional music is the term increasingly used (e.g. by the Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s) for folk music that is not contemporary folk music. More on this is at the terminology section of the World music article. Other organizations have made similar changes, although it remains common to refer to traditional music as "folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

".

Defining characteristics

From a historical perspective, traditional music had these characteristics:
  • It was transmitted through an oral tradition
    Oral tradition
    Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

    .
Before the twentieth century, ordinary farm workers and factory workers were illiterate. They acquired songs by memorising them. Primarily, this was not mediated by books, recorded or transmitted media. Singers may extend their repertoire using broadsheets, song books or CDs, but these secondary enhancements are of the same character as the primary songs experienced in the flesh.

  • The music was often related to national culture.
It was culturally particular - from a particular region or culture. In the context of an immigrant group, folk music acquires an extra dimension for social cohesion. It is particularly conspicuous in the United States, where Polish-Americans, Irish-Americans and Asian-Americans strive to emphasise differences from the mainstream. They will learn songs and dances that originate in the countries where their grandparents came from.

  • They commemorate historical and personal events.
On certain days of the year, such as Easter, May Day and Christmas, particular songs celebrate the yearly cycle. Weddings, birthdays and funerals may also be noted with songs, dances and special costumes. Religious festivals often have a folk music component. Choral music at these events brings children and non-professional singers to participate in a public arena, giving an emotional bonding that is unrelated to the aethetic qualities of the music.


As a side-effect, the following characteristics are sometimes present:
  • Lack of copyright on songs
There are hundreds of songs from the nineteenth century have known authors. However, they have continued in oral tradition, to the point where they are classified as "Traditional", for purposes of music publishing. This has become much less frequent since the 1970s. Today, almost every folk song that is recorded is credited with an arrangement e.g. "Trad arr Dylan".

  • Fusion of cultures
In the same way that people can have a mixed background, with parents originating in different continents, so too music can be a blend of influences. A particular rhythmic pattern, or a characteristic instrument, is enough to give a traditional feel to music, even when it has been composed recently. It is easy to recognise the presence of a bagpipe or a tabla in a piece of music. The young are usually much less offended by the dilution or adaptation of songs this way. Equally an electric guitar can be added to an old song. It is a matter of personal taste as to whether this is an enhancement to the music, or a cheap gimmick. The relevant factors may include instrumentation, tunings, voicings, phrasing, subject matter, and even production methods.

  • Non-commercial
Celebrations of cultural identity are occasionally performed without any profit motive. The absence of financial reward for the organiser was much more common in the past.

Subjects of traditional music

Apart from instrumental music that forms a part of traditional music, especially dance music traditions, much traditional music is vocal music
Vocal music
Vocal music is a genre of music performed by one or more singers, with or without instrumental accompaniment, in which singing provides the main focus of the piece. Music which employs singing but does not feature it prominently is generally considered instrumental music Vocal music is a genre of...

, since the instrument that makes such music is usually handy. As such, most traditional music has meaningful lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

.

Narrative verse looms large in the traditional music of many cultures. This encompasses such forms as traditional epic poetry
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

, much of which was meant originally for oral performance, sometimes accompanied by instruments. Many epic poems of various cultures were pieced together from shorter pieces of traditional narrative verse, which explains their episodic structure and often their in medias res
In medias res
In medias res or medias in res is a Latin phrase denoting the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, rather than at the beginning In medias res or medias in res (into the middle of things) is a Latin phrase...

plot developments. Other forms of traditional narrative verse relate the outcomes of battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

s and other tragedies
Tragedy (event)
A tragedy is an event in which one or more losses, usually of human life, occurs that is viewed as mournful. Such an event is said to be tragic....

 or natural disaster
Natural disaster
A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard . It leads to financial, environmental or human losses...

s. Sometimes, as in the triumphant Song of Deborah found in the Biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 Book of Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

, these songs celebrate victory. Laments for lost battles and wars, and the lives lost in them, are equally prominent in many traditions; these laments keep alive the cause for which the battle was fought. The narratives of traditional songs often also remember folk hero
Folk hero
A folk hero is a type of hero, real, fictional, or mythological. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character in the popular consciousness. This presence in the popular consciousness is evidenced by...

es such as John Henry
John Henry (folklore)
John Henry is an American folk hero and tall tale. Henry worked as a "steel-driver"—a man tasked with hammering and chiseling rock in the construction of tunnels for railroad tracks. In the legend, John Henry's prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam powered hammer,...

 to Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

. Some traditional song narratives recall supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 events or mysterious deaths.

Hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s and other forms of religious music
Religious music
Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions'...

 are often of traditional and unknown origin. Western musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

 was originally created to preserve the lines of Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services...

, which before its invention was taught as an oral tradition in monastic
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

 communities. Traditional songs such as Green grow the rushes, O
Green Grow the Rushes, O
Green Grow The Rushes, Ho , is a folk song popular across the English-speaking world. It is sometimes sung as a Christmas carol...

present religious lore in a mnemonic form. In the Western world, Christmas carol
Christmas carol
A Christmas carol is a carol whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas or the winter season in general and which are traditionally sung in the period before Christmas.-History:...

s and other traditional songs preserve religious lore in song form.

Work song
Work song
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a specific form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task or trade which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song....

s frequently feature call and response
Call and response (music)
In music, a call and response is a succession of two distinct phrases usually played by different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first...

 structures, and are designed to enable the labourers who sing them to coordinate their efforts in accordance with the rhythms of the songs. They are frequently, but not invariably, composed. In the American armed forces, a lively tradition of jody calls ("Duckworth chants") are sung while soldiers are on the march. Professional sailors made use of a large body of sea shanties
Sea Shanties
Sea Shanties is the debut album of Progressive Rock band High Tide. The cover artwork was drawn by Paul Whitehead.-Production:Denny Gerrard produced Sea Shanties in return for High Tide acting as the backing band on his solo album Sinister Morning...

. Love poetry, often of a tragic or regretful nature, prominently figures in many folk traditions. Nursery rhyme
Nursery rhyme
The term nursery rhyme is used for "traditional" poems for young children in Britain and many other countries, but usage only dates from the 19th century and in North America the older ‘Mother Goose Rhymes’ is still often used.-Lullabies:...

s and nonsense verse
Nonsense verse
Nonsense verse is a form of light, often rhythmical verse, usually for children, depicting peculiar characters in amusing and fantastical situations. It is whimsical and humorous in tone and tends to employ fanciful phrases and meaningless made-up words. Nonsense verse is closely related to...

 also are frequent subjects of traditional songs.

Variation in traditional music

Music transmitted by word of mouth through a community will, in time, develop many variants, because this kind of transmission cannot produce word-for-word and note-for-note accuracy. Indeed, many traditional singers are quite creative and deliberately modify the material they learn.

For example the words of "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day
I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day
"I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day" is a traditional Irish song written from the point of view of a rich landowner telling the story of his day while buying drinks at a public house.Various versions of the song exist...

" (Roud 975) are known from a broadside
Broadside (music)
A broadside is a single sheet of cheap paper printed on one side, often with a ballad, rhyme, news and sometimes with woodcut illustrations...

 in the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

. The date is almost certainly before 1900, and it seems to be Irish. In 1958 the song was recorded in Canada (My Name is Pat and I'm Proud of That). Jeannie Robertson
Jeannie Robertson
Jeannie Robertson was a Scottish folk singer.-Hamish Henderson and Alan Lomax:It is not known where Jeannie Robertson was born but she did live at 90, Hilton Street in Aberdeen, where a plaque now commemorates her. Like many of the Scottish Travellers from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Ayrshire, she went...

 made the next recorded version in 1961. She has changed it to make reference to "Jock Stewart", one of her relatives, and there are no Irish references. In 1976 Archie Fisher
Archie Fisher
Archie Fisher MBE is a Scottish folk singer and song writer.-The early years:Archie Fisher was born in Glasgow on 23 October 1939 into a large singing family. His sister Cilla Fisher is also a professional singer, as was his late sister Ray. In 1960 he moved to Edinburgh and appeared regularly at...

 deliberately altered the song to remove the reference to a dog being shot. In 1985 The Pogues
The Pogues
The Pogues are a Celtic punk band, formed in 1982 and fronted by Shane MacGowan. The band reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems but the band continued first with Joe Strummer and then with Spider Stacy on vocals before...

 took it full circle by restoring all the Irish references.

Because variants proliferate naturally, it is naïve to believe that there is such a thing as the single "authentic" version of a ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

 such as "Barbara Allen". Field researchers in traditional song (see below) have encountered countless versions of this ballad throughout the English-speaking world, and these versions often differ greatly from each other. None can reliably claim to be the original, and it is quite possible that whatever the "original" was, it ceased to be sung centuries ago. Any version can lay an equal claim to authenticity, so long as it is truly from a traditional singing community and not the work of an outside editor.

Cecil Sharp
Cecil Sharp
Cecil James Sharp was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early 20th century, and many of England's traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them.-Early life:Sharp was born in Camberwell, London, the eldest son of...

 had an influential idea about the process of folk variation: he felt that the competing variants of a traditional song would undergo a process akin to biological natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

: only those new variants that were the most appealing to ordinary singers would be picked up by others and transmitted onward in time. Thus, over time we would expect each traditional song to become esthetically ever more appealing — it would be collectively composed to perfection, as it were, by the community.

On the other hand, there is also evidence to support the view that transmission of traditional songs can be rather sloppy. Occasionally, collected traditional song versions include material or verses incorporated from different songs that makes little sense in its context. Sarah Cleveland (b 1905) is a respected traditional Irish-USA singer. Her version of "Let No Man steal Your Thyme" contains a mixture of another song - "Seeds of Love". (Sarah's version). Flowers occur in both songs, but the theme is quite different. Equally, many traditional songs are known only as fragments. In the extreme case only one or two lines may have been recorded.

Regional variation

While the loss of traditional music in the face of the rise of popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

 is a worldwide phenomenon, it is not one occurring at a uniform rate throughout the world. While even many tribal cultures are losing traditional music and folk cultures, the process is most advanced "where industrialisation and commercialisation of culture are most advanced". Yet in nations or regions where traditional music is a badge of cultural or national identity, the loss of traditional music can be slowed; this is held to be true, for instance in the case of Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Portugal
Fado
Fado is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. Fado historian and scholar, Rui Vieira Nery, states that "the only reliable information on the history of Fado was orally transmitted and goes back to the 1820s and 1830s at best...

, Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, and Galicia, Greece
Music of Greece
The music of Greece is as diverse and celebrated as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds...

 and Crete
Music of Crete
The music of Crete is a traditional form of Greek folk music called κρητικά . The lyra is the dominant folk instrument on the island; there are three-stringed and four-stringed versions of this bowed string instrument, closely related to the medieval Byzantine lyra. It is often accompanied by the...

 all of which retain their traditional music to some degree, in some such areas the decline of traditional music and loss of traditions has been reversed. This is most obvious where tourist agencies brand some regions with the word "Celtic
Celtic music
Celtic music is a term utilised by artists, record companies, music stores and music magazines to describe a broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic people of Western Europe...

". Guide books and posters from Ireland
Music of Ireland
Irish Music is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres on the island of Ireland.The indigenous music of the island is termed Irish traditional music. It has remained vibrant through the 20th, and into the 21st century, despite globalizing cultural forces...

, Scotland
Music of Scotland
Scotland is internationally known for its traditional music, which has remained vibrant throughout the 20th century, when many traditional forms worldwide lost popularity to pop music...

, Cornwall
Music of Cornwall
Cornwall has been historically Celtic, though Celtic-derived musical traditions had been moribund for some time before being revived during a late 20th century roots revival.-History:...

, Brittany
Music of Brittany
Since the early 1970s, Brittany has experienced a tremendous revival of its folk music. Along with flourishing traditional forms such as the bombard-binou pair and fest-noz ensembles incorporating other additional instruments, it has also branched out into numerous sub-genres...

 and Nova Scotia
Music of Nova Scotia
Music is a part of the warp and weft of the fabric of Nova Scotia's cultural life. This deep and lasting love of music is expressed through the performance and enjoyment of all types and genres of music...

 refer to live music performances. Local government often sponsors and promotes performances during tourist seasons, and revives lost traditions.

19th century Europe

Starting in the 19th century, interested people - academics and amateur scholars - started to take note of what was being lost, and there grew various efforts aimed at preserving the music of the people. One such effort was the collection by Francis James Child
Francis James Child
Francis James Child was an American scholar, educator, and folklorist, best known today for his collection of folk songs known as the Child Ballads. Child was Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard University, where he produced influential editions of English poetry...

 in the late 19th century of the texts of over three hundred ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

s in the English and Scots traditions (called the Child Ballads
Child Ballads
The Child Ballads are a collection of 305 ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, collected by Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century...

). Throughout the 1960s and early to middle 1970s, American scholar Bertrand Harris Bronson published an exhaustive, four-volume collection of the then-known variations of both the texts and tunes associated with what came to be known as the Child Canon. He also advanced some significant theories concerning the workings of oral-aural tradition.

Contemporaneously with Child came the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould
Sabine Baring-Gould
The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould was an English hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist and eclectic scholar. His bibliography consists of more than 1240 publications, though this list continues to grow. His family home, Lew Trenchard Manor near Okehampton, Devon, has been preserved as he had it...

, and later and more significantly Cecil Sharp
Cecil Sharp
Cecil James Sharp was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early 20th century, and many of England's traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them.-Early life:Sharp was born in Camberwell, London, the eldest son of...

 who worked in the early 20th century to preserve a great body of English rural traditional song, music and dance, under the aegis of what became and remains the English Folk Dance and Song Society
English Folk Dance and Song Society
The English Folk Dance and Song Society was formed in 1932 when two organisations merged: the Folk-Song Society and the English Folk Dance Society. The EFDSS, a member-based organisation, was incorporated as a Company limited by guarantee in 1935 and became a Registered Charity The English Folk...

 (EFDSS). Sharp also worked in America, recording the traditional songs of the Appalachian Mountains in 1916-1918 in collaboration with Maud Karpeles
Maud Karpeles
Maud Karpeles was a collector of folksongs and dance teacher.Maud Karpeles was born in London in 1885. In Berlin at the "Hochschule für Musik" she studied piano for six months. In 1892 a women's settlement had been created in Cumberland Road, Canning Town in 1892...

 and Olive Dame Campbell
Olive Dame Campbell
Olive Dame Campbell was an American folklorist.Born Olive Arnold Dame in West Medford, Massachusetts, she married John C. Campbell, American educator, in 1907. After his death, she co-founded and directed the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina in 1925...

. Campbell and Sharp are represented under other names by actors in the modern movie "Songcatcher
Songcatcher
The film's score was written by David Mansfield, who also assembled a roster of female country music artists to perform mostly traditional mountain ballads. Some of the songs are contemporary arrangements, and some are played in the traditional Appalachian music style. The artists include Rosanne...

".

Similar activity was also underway in other countries. One of the most extensive was perhaps the work done in Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

 by Krisjanis Barons
Krišjanis Barons
Krišjānis Barons is known as the "father of the dainas" thanks largely to his systematization of the Latvian folk songs and his labour in preparing their texts for publication in Latvju dainas. His portrait appears on the 100-lat banknote, the only human face of a living person on modern Latvian...

 who between the years between 1894 and 1915 published six volumes including the texts of 217 996 Latvian folk songs; the Latvju dainas.

Around this time, composers of classical music developed a strong interest in traditional song collecting, and a number of outstanding composers carried out their own field work on traditional song. These included Percy Grainger
Percy Grainger
George Percy Aldridge Grainger , known as Percy Grainger, was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist. In the course of a long and innovative career he played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century. He also made many...

 and Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams OM was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many...

 in England and Béla Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

 in Hungary. These composers, like many of their predecessors, incorporated traditional material into their classical compositions. The Latviju dainas are extensively used in the classical choral works of Andrejs Jurāns, Jānis Cimze
Jānis Cimze
Jānis Cimze was a Latvian pedagogue, collector and harmoniser of folk songs, organist, founder of Latvian choral music and initiator of professional Latvian music. He is buried at the Lugaži Cemetery.- Early life :Jānis Cimze was born at the Cimze Manor in the family of a manor overseer...

, and Emilis Melngailis.

North America

In North America, during the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 worked through the offices of traditional music collectors Robert Winslow Gordon
Robert Winslow Gordon
Robert Winslow Gordon was born September 2, 1888 in Bangor, Maine. Educated at Harvard, he joined the English faculty at the University of California at Berkley in 1918. He was the founding head of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress in 1928, later the Archive of Folk...

, Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax was an American folklorist and ethnomusicologist. He was one of the great field collectors of folk music of the 20th century, recording thousands of songs in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain.In his later career, Lomax advanced his theories of...

 and others to capture as much North American field material as possible.

People who studied traditional song sometimes hoped that their work would restore traditional music to the people. For instance, Cecil Sharp
Cecil Sharp
Cecil James Sharp was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early 20th century, and many of England's traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them.-Early life:Sharp was born in Camberwell, London, the eldest son of...

 campaigned, with some success, to have English traditional songs (in his own heavily edited and expurgated versions) to be taught to school children.

One theme that runs through the great period of scholarly traditional song collection is the tendency of certain members of the "folk", who were supposed to be the object of study, to become scholars and advocates themselves. For example, Jean Ritchie
Jean Ritchie
Jean Ritchie is an American folk singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player.- Out of Kentucky :Abigail and Balis Ritchie of Viper, Kentucky had 14 children, and Jean was the youngest...

 was the youngest child of a large family from Viper, Kentucky that had preserved many of the old Appalachian traditional songs. Ritchie, living in a time when the Appalachians had opened up to outside influence, was university educated and ultimately moved to New York City, where she made a number of classic recordings of the family repertoire and published an important compilation of these songs. (See also Hedy West
Hedy West
Hedy West was an American folksinger and songwriter.West was of the same generation as Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and others of the American folk music revival. Her most famous song "500 Miles" is one of America's best loved and best known folk songs...

)

Discography

  • Anthology of American Folk Music
    Anthology of American Folk Music
    The Anthology of American Folk Music is a six-album compilation released in 1952 by Folkways Records , comprising eighty-four American folk, blues and country music recordings that were originally issued from 1927 to 1932.Experimental filmmaker and notable eccentric Harry Smith compiled the music...

     By Harry Smith
    Harry Everett Smith
    Harry Everett Smith was an American archivist, ethnomusicologist, student of anthropology, record collector, experimental filmmaker, artist, bohemian and mystic...

  • The Voice of the People
    The Voice of the People
    The Voice of the People is an anthology of folk songs sung by Traditional singers and musicians of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.There are 511 recordings on 20 CDs, compiled by Dr Reg Hall, a historian at Sussex University...

     (UK traditional folk music)

Further reading

  • English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. Collected by Cecil J. Sharp. Ed. Maud Karpeles. 1932. London. Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

    .
  • Karpeles, Maud. An Introduction to English Folk Song. 1973. Oxford. Oxford University Press.
  • Sharp, Cecil. Folk Song: Some Conclusions. 1907. Charles River Books
  • Bronson, Bertrand Harris. The Ballad As Song (Berkeley: University of California Press
    University of California Press
    University of California Press, also known as UC Press, is a publishing house associated with the University of California that engages in academic publishing. It was founded in 1893 to publish books and papers for the faculty of the University of California, established 25 years earlier in 1868...

    , 1969).
  • Bronson, Bertrand Harris. The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, with Their Texts, According to the Extant Records of Great Britain and North America, 4 volumes (Princeton and Berkeley: Princeton University
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    and University of California Presses, 1959, ff.).
  • Bronson, Bertrand Harris. The Singing Tradition of Child's Popular Ballads (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976).
  • Poladian, Sirvart. "Melodic Contour in Traditional Music," Journal of the International Folk Music Council III (1951), 30-34.
  • Poladian, Sirvart. "The Problem of Melodic Variation in Folksong," Journal of American Folklore (1942), 204-211.
  • Rooksby, Rikky, Dr Vic Gammon et al. The Folk Handbook. (2007). Backbeat

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