Folk music, also known as traditional or roots music, has been a part of many cultures for centuries. The term “folk music” is often used to describe music that is transmitted orally, from generation to generation, without the intervention of professional music makers. The concept of “popular music” is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating back to the late 19th century.
In the early days of recorded sound, popular music was often synonymous with light classical music or vaudeville-style entertainment. With the advent of recorded blues and country music in the 1920s, the concept of popular music began to evolve, eventually encompassing a wide range of musical styles, including rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, and electronic dance music.
However, folk music was never truly considered the “popular music” of its time. In the past, folk music was usually performed by amateurs and was not widely distributed through commercial channels. Instead, it was typically passed down through the generations in a particular community, with new songs and styles being created and adapted over time.
It was not until the 20th century that folk music began to gain wider recognition, largely due to the efforts of collectors, ethnomusicologists, and folk revivalists. In the mid-20th century, the American folk music revival brought attention to the genre and its contributions to American culture and history. This revival also saw the rise of famous folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, who helped popularize the genre and increase its exposure.
Despite this increased visibility, folk music was never truly considered the “popular music” of its time in the sense that it was not widely distributed or consumed by the masses. Instead, it was typically seen as a niche genre, appealing primarily to a small group of dedicated enthusiasts.
In recent years, however, the definition of “popular music” has become increasingly inclusive, encompassing a wide range of musical styles and genres. As a result, it is now possible for a folk artist to achieve widespread commercial success, as long as their music appeals to a large enough audience.
In conclusion, while folk music has a rich and diverse history, it was never truly considered the “popular music” of its time in the traditional sense. However, with the changing definitions and trends in popular music, it is now possible for folk artists to achieve widespread recognition and success.