If you are a music lover, you definitely love listening to different genres. But two of the most popular music genres are country and folk. Although these two are of different genres, they sound pretty similar.
Whenever you hear these types of music, you will notice the captivating storytelling, rhythms, and melodies. But as these music genres are not well defined, people get confused between the two.
Music genres evolve as the decades pass, and country music has infused folk music into it in the present day. But, still, some clear distinctions set the two apart. So, if you want to know the difference between folk and country music, we have explained it neatly in this article.
An Attempted Definition
Music can’t be defined sometimes, and when it comes to folk and country music, finding a good definition might be impossible. However, we tried our best to explain the genres.
What Is Folk Music?
Folk music is a genre of music that is traditionally passed down orally and reflects the culture of a community. It typically features simple and catchy melodies played on acoustic instruments and often has lyrics that tell stories or express social and political commentary. Folk music is often associated with rural or working-class communities and has roots in various cultures and countries.
Moreover, folk music is usually unique to a time period or community and later passed down to a new community or generation. Previously, folk singers used to play music with whatever instruments they had lying around.
What Is Country Music?
Country music is a genre of popular music that originated in the Southern United States in the early 20th century. It is characterized by its use of acoustic instruments, such as the guitar and fiddle, and its focus on themes of rural life, love, heartbreak, and Americana.
Moreover, country music often features simple, straightforward lyrics that tell stories and express emotions. The genre has evolved over the years, incorporating rock and roll, pop, and hip-hop elements, but it remains rooted in its traditional themes and instruments.
What Is the Difference Between Country and Folk Music?
While both country and folk music are rooted in traditional acoustic instruments and storytelling, they have different origins and focus on different themes and cultural traditions.
So, let’s have a look at the differences up close.
Country music often focuses on themes of love, heartbreak, rural life, loneliness, Americana, etc., while folk music has a broader range of themes that can include protests, social and political commentary, personal experiences, and cultural traditions.
For example, Bob Dylan’s songs, Johnny Horton’s war songs, Neil Young’s “Ohio” on the Kent State Shootings, etc., are all folk songs that describe an essential social event in the community.
Country music often features a strong beat, emphasizing the two and four beats in a bar. The rhythm can vary from upbeat and energetic to slow and emotional. Folk music, in contrast, may have a more relaxed and simple rhythm and is often played in a natural, unforced way.
Country music is characterized by the use of acoustic instruments like the guitar and fiddle, as well as the steel guitar, mandolin, and banjo. Folk music, on the other hand, often features simpler acoustic instruments like the guitar and harmonica and has a more stripped-down, acoustic sound. Moreover, folk music has a more effortless chorus that is easily memorable.
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Origin Story of Folk and Country Music
The origin story of folk and country music is very rich in terms of culture and music. Both genres came with different histories and introduced various artists to the era.
Folk music has deep roots in the cultural traditions of communities worldwide and has been passed down orally for centuries. It often reflects the beliefs, values, and experiences of the people who perform it and has been used as a means of storytelling and social commentary.
Moreover, in the United States, folk music was brought over by immigrants and laborers. It was later popularized by the folk revival of the 1950s and 60s, which saw artists like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger bring attention to the genre.
On the other hand, country music has its roots in the folk music of the rural South, particularly in states like Tennessee and Kentucky. In the early 20th century, artists like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family began to record and popularize the genre, which eventually became known as “hillbilly music.”
Over time, country music evolved to incorporate elements of blues, swing, and other popular styles. It became a staple of American popular culture in the mid-20th century, with artists like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash achieving widespread success. Today, country music remains one of the most popular genres of music in the United States and continues to evolve and incorporate new influences.
A Summary of Music
Music will always be a big part of everyone’s life, and it will evolve as time passes. Even if folk and country music sound alike, they have held onto their roots pretty nicely. Many artists have set their foot on both music genres out of love. So, we hope this article has helped you learn more about these astounding genres.