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Folk music is a term which first originated in the 19th century to describe the music of the common people, music passed down through oral traditions frequently expressing cultural values and stories of a most poignant nature. In the 20th century the term has diversified to incorporate the significant folk revival of the mid 20th century, and to the many forms of the genre which have developed since. To many, 'folk' may mean Celtic music, or protest songs, or folk rock, but of course it is a universal music, and includes ethnically distinct world music, just as much as British or American folk.
In this page I select ten of the best pages of folk music to be found on the HubPages website. Although my personal favourite genre is traditional folk, hopefully most of the major forms of folk music are represented in this review.
- NB: You will note that several of the hubs featured here are currently offline. This is sad and disappointing, as they are among the best folk music pages on this site. I really hope that some at least of these hubs will soon be republished. If not, then in due course, and time permitting, I will have to revise this selection of folk music hubs. Apologies for the current absence of links to 4 of these hubs.
This is the fourth of a series of articles I am publishing reviewing some of the best 'hubs' (web pages) on particular subjects at the HubPages site. The home page for these reviews and a list of published reviews can be found at:
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REVIEW AND SELECTION CRITERIA
All these hubs are included under the topic category of 'Folk Music' on HubPages. That, I suppose, is self-explanatory though no doubt many fine articles are also to be found under the topic category of 'World Music' - perhaps these will be the subject of a future HubPages review. Researching the subject has of course facilitated my introduction to a wide range of artistes, groups or styles of music, of which I was previously unaware, and that has been a rewarding experience. It has also been interesting to see how different authors have handled the subject matter. Many hubs feature reviews of bands and singers, and some focus on a single song and relate its history and development through the ages. Some concentrate on the music of particular countries or cultures, and some look at the overall concept of 'folk' and what it means to the people who perform this music. Of course the majority of articles feature video recordings of songs and tunes, and that makes a big difference to the quality of the hub, and was a major factor in determining whether I could include the hub in this review. I have to admit to a certain bias in my selections based on personal preference, though I have included artistes and musical styles here which are not among my favourites - if the hubs are well written and presented, that's what really counts for me.
THESE 10 HUBS
For this selection I tried to include a wide variety of different hubs. Traditional folk is the genre which most appeals to me, and in this category I have included two hubs which feature two of the very best songs - the immensely evocative 'Lord Franklin' and the unique sound of 'Waltzing Matilda'. The revival of folk music in the mid 20th century led to many performers whose names have since acquired a legendary status in the music industry - people like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and of course Bob Dylan. Two hubs therefore cover the development of folk at this time, and the careers of these artistes. Three more hubs look at folk music from more recent times - a review of a Northumberland band, 'The Unthanks', a very different and fun band called 'The Wurzels' and a lovely song written and performed by one of our very own HubPage members and entitled 'Gone Fishing with Uncle Bob'. Finally, there is world music, from which I have chosen three hubs featuring Chinese folk music, folk music from the Philippines, and music of Jewish origin. There should be something in the selection for everyone, and hopefully a few hubs which will introduce some of you to a new kind of music to enjoy.
Above all, where there are videos and recordings - ENJOY THE MUSIC!
Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, Kevin Burke, and "Lord Franklin": "I dreamed a dream and I thought it true"
Traditional folk songs have frequently tackled subjects far more poignant and in a far more heart rending manner than other musical genres. 'Lord Franklin' is one such folk song, all the more poignant because it tells the story of a true historical event. In 1845, Lord Franklin took command of an expedition to find the legendary 'North West Passage' - the route through the frozen archipelagos of Northern Canada. In this hub stessily presents one version of the song 'Lord Franklin' plus information about the performers and other recordings of this song. That alone tempted me to include what is a very beautiful piece of music. But then she gives a detailed account of this sad expedition which ended with the party never being heard of again. What is particularly sentimental about this song is the image of Lord Franklin's devoted wife sitting at home in England, not knowing what has happened to her beloved husband. All she can do is to fund an search expedition to try to locate him - but to no avail. Indeed several search parties set sail, and each expedition carried letters from Lady Franklin to her husband in the hope that he might one day read them. Stessily includes excerpts from some of these. The hub demonstrates just how emotional song can be, and how it can tell of serious events, as well as affairs of love, in ways which touch the heart. A hub to read for its considerable factual content, its emotional appeal, and for the music to listen to.
Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, Kevin Burke, and "Lord Franklin": "I dreamed a dream and I thought it true" by stessily
- SADLY STESSILY'S HUBS ARE CURRENTLY OFFLINE. HOPEFULLY THIS IS A TEMPORARY SITUATION BEFORE REPUBLICATION IN DUE COURSE
Jewish Music: Klezmer Style Folk Music
This hub relates the story of Jewish klezmer music, an ancient style of folk music which is most identified with Eastern Europe but which with the migration - enforced or otherwise - of Jews across the world, has taken hold and found new form in other cultures. And it seems klezmer has embraced the influence of other musical styles too, such as Gypsy music and jazz music, and as such the range of klezmer music has expanded and diversified. I must admit that it's not my own personal favourite kind of music, but it does have a very distinctive sound which appeals to many (think 'Fiddler on the Roof' if you want a quick idea of the best known example of klezmer). This hub is a well written guide to the form, explaining its roots and the instruments which typify klezmer, as well as presenting four videos which give a very good illustration of the range of the music.
Jewish Music: Klezmer Style Folk Music by akirchner
Traditional Chinese Musical Instruments
I love Chinese music, and I love the unique sound of traditional Chinese instruments, although here in the West, very few of us are familiar with the different types, with their strange shapes and stranger names. So this hub is extremely welcome. It gives a comprehensive guide to most of the main instruments and their distinctive sounds, Especially helpful is that each and every instrument is shown in video recordings, so one can learn to distinguish the sounds which each instrument makes. One can watch a beautifully tranquil video of a lady playing a Xiou bamboo flute on a river raft, listen to the extraordinary and lovely Chinese lute, the Pipa, and the Chinese dulcimer or Yang-qin, and enjoy what is for me the most evocative of all - the Erhu Chinese fiddle. (I would love to be able to play this!) In total, seven different instruments are shown in performance. This, I think, is a magical hub, which I have no hesitation in promoting.
Traditional Chinese Musical Instruments by Haunty
'Walzing Matilda' is undoubtably one of the best known folk songs in the world, and also one of the most quintessentially Australian songs ever written. This page has a recording of a lighthearted version of 'Walzing Matilda' as sung by Rolf Harris, with an introductory explanation of the characteristic local vocabulary which is sprinkled throughout the song. In 1972 a song called 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda' was written. This was a protest song about the maiming of soldiers in senseless war, and it is quite beautiful to hear. A version of this song is also included in the hub, and in connection with this, there is a brief mention of the ANZAC day march in which old soldiers from Australia and New Zealand pay tribute to fallen comrades. The combination of all these elements in this hub makes it an enjoyable page to read. In the three years since joining HubPages, True Blue Wizard has only written two hubs. I wish he would write more.
Waltzing Matilda by True Blue Wizard
- SADLY THIS HUB IS CURRENTLY OFFLINE. HOPEFULLY THIS IS A TEMPORARY SITUATION BEFORE REPUBLICATION IN DUE COURSE
A List Of Philippine Folk Songs
In this list of ten favourite hubs I definitely wanted to include a few which illustrate the music of other cultures. Granted, many more are to be found under the 'World Music' category on HubPages, but I choose this hub because the songs are very clearly rooted in folk music. In this case, it is the sweet music of the Philippines, and the appeal of this hub is threefold. Firstly, there is the simple interest in hearing music which most of us in the West will not know. Secondly, the songs presented in video form with lyrics written down in text either in the original language or with translations, include cultural references to such things as local fruits and farming, which make them more interesting to those who are unfamiliar with Philippines life. The third appeal of this hub is that the four folk songs played are children's songs, and as such they have a charm and a joyousness which should bring a smile to the face of anyone who listens to the recordings. (One delightful song about planting rice is actually sung in English). The author of the article is Filipino by birth, and having sung them at school, clearly knows these songs well. A real fun hub.
A List Of Philippine Folk Songs by precy anza
American folk music: before and after Harry Smith
This hub provided what in a sense is the pivotal centre of this hub review, in that all that has gone before could be regarded as traditional or world folk, and all that comes after may be the result of the folk revival in the mid 20th century. By the account of the hub featured here, much of the credit for that revival can be laid at the door of Harry Smith. Prior to Mr Smith's 'Anthology of American Folk Music', the music of Tin Pan Alley, of jazz and dance bands and classical music, was all that was really considered to be respectable. Other music - rural or ethnic - was categorised as 'hillbilly' music or 'race' music. Harry Smith's Anthology of 1952 presented a whole collection of obscure musical records which broke down many of the barriers of class, culture and race. This hub suggests that Harry Smith may have had a major influence not only in the development of modern day folk and folk rock, but in the whole musical revolution of the time, including the rise of rock and roll, and the musical influences of folk on the protest movements of the '60s. Whatever the significance of Harry Smith, this hub makes for a very interesting read on the the major changes in society that took place in the middle of the 20th century, and the role of music in those changes.
American folk music: before and after Harry Smith by allpurposeguru
Top Ten Folk Artists of All Time
Who are the top ten folk artists of the 20th century? Everyone with an interest in the genre will have their own ideas, although the ten most influential would certainly include most of those featured in this hub. Names like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan have already acquired a legendary status within the business. Others who are discussed in this selection include Odetta and The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Joni Mitchell, and - my own favourites - Peter, Paul and Mary, and Simon and Garfunkle. Most of these artistes and composers came to prominence around or shortly after the period of Harry Smith's 1952 Anthology discussed in the previous hub, and most have a lasting legacy. This hub by Quiline gives brief biographies of the careers of all these famous acts, together with some of their landmark compositions, and as such acts as an introduction to the names who shaped folk music today.
Top Ten Folk Artists of All Time by Quiline
- SADLY QUILINE'S HUBS ARE CURRENTLY OFFLINE. HOPEFULLY THIS IS A TEMPORARY SITUATION BEFORE REPUBLICATION IN DUE COURSE
The Wurzels, Scrumpy and Western Music
OK, the previous two hubs reviewed have looked at some of folk music's best exponents and how the genre has developed and even played a rather significant role in civil rights and the development of society. Other hubs in this review look at the poignance of folk music at its best. But music is also about fun, and folk music can be great exuberant fun. I considered two hubs under this criterion. One was Get With the Program and LearnYodeling: How to Yodel for the Non-Yodeling Yodeler, a real fun hub with a charming video. (I don't even like yodelling, but the hub would get possibly a mention under '10 favourite comedy hubs'!) The other, which I've decided to feature here, is a hub about a band called The Wurzels who bring laughter to their music. The Wurzels, from the 'West Country' of England, sing about such subjects as farming and cider drinking, and they sing in the distinctive dialect of the region, with a boisterous style and a smile on the face. Some songs are originals, and others are rewrites of popular tunes, with a subtle change of words to suit the folksy agricultural tone of the group. One of the songs recorded here - 'Morning Glory' - is a genuinely impressive melody, but watch the three live recordings too which iantoPF has put together, as these give a real flavour of the good humoured stage performance. Not sure what my American friends may make of this very eccentric English act, but this is a nice review of the history of a comic folk band!
The Wurzels, Scrumpy and Western Music by iantoPF
The Unthanks-A Wonderful English Folk Band
Jools99 has written some nice hubs introducing us to folk bands whose names may not be familiar to the majority. Two hubs - one featuring an American band 'The Weepies' and one featuring a British band 'The Unthanks' - caught my eye. All About The Weepies covers the history of Deb Talan and Steve Tannen who make up the Weepies. I've chosen to highlight the second hub about The Unthanks, as they are probably the less well known to the majority of readers. The Unthanks come from Northumberland in the north of England, and their voices and songs have a pleasant tone to them presented here in four video recordings. A fifth recording features one of these songs as sung by Joan Baez, which gives the listener an interesting contrast in styles. This hub provides a service in introducing good music which many will be hearing for the first time, and hopefully it will attract a few more fans to the Unthanks.
The Unthanks-A Wonderful English Folk Band by Jools99
Gone Fishing with Old Uncle Bob
I chose this hub because it illustrates one of the best features of HubPages, which is the opportunity for creative artists to exhibit their work. Here HubPage member Tom Cornett presents his reminiscences of 'Uncle Bob', an elderly relative with whom he would often go fishing - it was the favourite past time of Uncle Bob. The reminiscences are three things at once - affectionate, poignant and amusing. But then there is the song to accompany the story, and this can be accessed via a link on the hub page. 'Gone fishin' ', which is composed by the author of the hub, is quite lovely, and deserves a wide audience. But I would go further than this; the link to 'Gone fishin' ' brings up an entire album of songs by Tom - who sings folk songs under the pen name, Larkin Williamson - and listening to the album leads to the discovery of a singer-songwriter of real ability. From the link to 'Gone Fishin'', click on 'music' (top left below 'main artist page' and this brings up fourteen of Tom's songs. Click on each song in turn to listen. They are labelled as 'traditional country' rather than folk, but the distinction I guess is blurred, and good music is good music, and Tom's voice is as good as any I have ever heard in this genre. Full stop. Discovering this artist and HubPage member has been a joy of this HubPage review.
Gone Fishing with old Uncle Bob by Tom Cornett
- SADLY THIS HUB IS CURRENTLY OFFLINE. HOPEFULLY THIS IS A TEMPORARY SITUATION BEFORE REPUBLICATION IN DUE COURSE
A TEMPORARY NOTE ABOUT 'IDLE' HUBS
During the compiling of this hub review, a new policy on HubPages has meant that 'low traffic' or 'idle' hubs would be de-listed from search engines such as Google, and even from Topic searches on HubPages. Whilst the policy is well-intentioned (to increase the reputation or performance of HubPages in the Internet community), it does mean that some very fine hubs are no longer accessible through searches on Google, or through the Topics category here. (Indeed, I would not have known of their existence had I compiled this review a few weeks later, after the new policy came into effect). The policy has affected two of the hubs featured here, as well as two others which I almost included in the final selection. The two which I almost included are a moving personal song by Scrittobene called 'She Came Home', and a nice hub introducing French singer Anne Legras. The two featured hubs which are de-listed are 'Waltzing Matilda' and 'Gone Fishing with Old Uncle Bob'. As you can imagine from my comments in the respective reviews, I find this disappointing and would hope that you feel able to visit and read these hubs in order to bring them back to the notice of the search engines. They all deserve that. Thanks.
Two of my own hubs fall into the folk music category - Hope you can check them out
- The Folk Song Greensleeves
This page relates the history of one of the most famous melodies in the world of music, and one of the most ancient too - a melody with links to Tudor England, a melody with heartfelt lyrics, and a melody which provides me with my username
- Connie Dover; composer and singer of traditional Celtic and American Folk
This page promotes the talent of one of the world's very finest performers of traditional songs, and composer of some of the most beautiful music of recent decades. My own sllde show videos accompany the songs.
A NOTE ON COPYRIGHT
In order to make this page attractive and well presented, and to give a much better indication as to the reviewed hubs' content, I feel it is necessary to include one photo from each hub. Usually these will be public domain images. If they are copyright work, I will inform the author, and seek permission. Although my intention is only to increase visits to the hubs, if authors do not wish me to use the photos, I will of course, happily remove any copyright pics, or would be happy to use an agreed alternative image if requested.
A LINK TO ALL MY OTHER PAGES
- Greensleeves Hubs on HubPages
As well as HubPage Reviews, I write travel guides, film reviews, articles about science and astronomy, and short stories and poems, as well as pages about many other subjects. All can be accessed here.
I'D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR COMMENTS. THANKS, ALUN
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on October 12, 2012:
Thankyou Derdriu for your comment. It's true that relatively few hubs have been written about folk music from the rest of the world beyond the USA and the UK. Some of course are included under the topic category of 'World Music', and some may have been hidden by HubPages new 'idle hubs' policy as such articles are sadly less likely to attract very much traffic from Google. Still, it would be nice to see a much wider range of international music represented. I'm convinced there is a huge reservoir of beautiful music out there that most of us have never heard.
As always Derdriu, I thank you for your visit and votes. Much appreciated. Alun.
Derdriu on October 12, 2012:
Alun, It's expected that Celtic and English language speakers would dominate the category. In fact, "Lord Franklin" and "Waltzing Matilda" are amongst my favorite folk songs although no performer comes anywhere near to articulating Franklin's saga as do Mícheál (with Kevin) and Sinéad.
It's interesting that the category includes hubs such as you've found on Chinese and Philippine music. In looking quickly at the category, it's a bit disappointing to find basically nothing -- other than one on Bulgaria, another on France -- from the rich traditions preserved throughout Eurasia, Latin America, and the Mediterranean. Perhaps this will change now.
I'm happy that you include Stessily's hub because her music-related articles are amongst my favorites.
Respectfully, and with many thanks and all the votes, Derdriu
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 13, 2012:
allpurposeguru; Your comments on this review are very kind and thoughtfully written.
One of the great pleasures of writing reviews such as this is to be able to introduce other HubPage members to good pages to enjoy.
But I also benefit. With the writing of this review there are some performers and some songs which I have been introduced to, and which I have enjoyed. And on other pages - very notably yours - I have been introduced to knowledge about people and events which have a significance of which I was previously unaware. Creatively and information-wise, therefore, I have benefited. It's also been interesting to see the many diverse approaches which different hubbers have used to write about a topic like folk music.
Thank you for the votes and for sharing allpurposeguru. It's much appreciated. Alun.
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 13, 2012:
Brian; your suggestions all seem like good, interesting hubs. I wanted for this review to limit my selections to the 'folk music' topic category on HubPages, but maybe a 'Blues Music' review may one day be forthcoming.
David Guion from North Carolina on September 13, 2012:
Alun, you have done everyone a favor with this hub. Thanks not only for including one of my hubs in it, not only for calling my attention to other hubs and authors I might not have found elsewhere, but especially for the spirit of community you express and demonstrate. Plus, you've given probably more than one hubber an idea for future hubs of our own. Voted up, shared--lots of clicks up there.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on September 12, 2012:
I noticed that you left out the African American tradition of field hollers and folk blues. If you swap out any of the hubs you included, consider substituting:
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 12, 2012:
Brian; many thanks for your visit and for those votes and shares! Much appreciated.
It seems the development of folk music into all its diverse forms has not been a straight road, and no doubt there are many unsung heroes who have contributed to the catalogue of music available today in addition to Harry Smith - many of these would make interesting or deserving subjects for webpage biography. Alun.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on September 11, 2012:
Excellent hub. Thanks. I've bookmarked it for future further study. Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared.
Perhaps for a future hub, some giants of folk music collecting that come to mind are Edith Fowke, Richard Johnston, Alan Lomax, John Lomax, and John Jacob Niles. And a big factor in the folk music revival was Smithsonian Folkways record company.
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 08, 2012:
I thank you stessily for visiting and commenting. As you say, there is a huge well of creativity on this site which is demonstrated by members in all areas of the written arts, and - in some examples on this page - the musical arts too. It's also interesting when doing a review of this kind to see the diverse ways in which an essay on a subject such as folk music can be approached - most of these ten hubs have very little in common materially or in terms of style, other than the basic fact that they all deal with folk music.
Writing the page was a pleasure in part for what it taught me about folk music, in part for the introduction it gave me to new talents, and in part for the chance to advertise these excellent hubs. Speaking of which, yours was noted down for inclusion as soon as I read it. My thanks again for your comment. Alun.
stessily on September 08, 2012:
Alun, You have created a tribute which is as informative, entertaining, and interesting as your topic, folk music, albeit as specifically covered here on HubPages. Your presentation reflects dedicated, discerning research and thus is greatly appreciated. Your approach, of exploring specific topics as covered here on HubPages, spotlights the creative vastness of this site --- both your research and your findings are impressive, especially as they testify to the quality and scope of writings on HubPages.
I am honored that you include my tribute to "Lord Franklin", the song, the singers, and the story --- all of which and all of whom continue to cast a distinctive spell upon the world's historical and musical landscapes.
Well done, Alun!
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 06, 2012:
My pleasure to include your music Tom. It's nice to read, watch, or listen to creative work which I've long been a fan of, but it's even better to discover creative work which I am unfamiliar with.
I hope that recent changes to the HubPages site have the beneficial effects intended by the staff. I certainly hope that they do NOT have the effect of driving creative artists away from the site. Hubpages needs talented composers, musicians, writers, photographers, poets and artists, and these should be encouraged as much as possible. That in turn, as you say, encourages others to take the plunge and try their hand at exploring their own talents. That way, everybody benefits.
Hope your work receives the support it should, both on HubPages and elsewhere. Alun.
Tom Cornett from Ohio on September 05, 2012:
Alun....This is a wonderful Hub. I read and learned. So much of what I've written was inspired by many of the people you mentioned. I believe the greatest part of having one's work read or heard is that the work may inspire someone to create and share their own works.
There's a good number of songs, poems and books in all of us if we simply choose to white them.
Thanks so much for including my works in your Hub. You have created a smile. :o)
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 05, 2012:
So glad you visited the Chinese music hub - that's a beautiful video of the xiao flute, so it's nice to have been able to introduce you to it. I know a little of Chinese and Thai music and love much of what I hear from those countries, but your hub about the Philippines suggests to me that I need to listen to a lot more music from Eastern and South Eastern Asia. All the songs on your hub would raise the spirit of anyone who is feeling down or depressed as they are so light and happy in tone (even if the words sometimes sing of hard work or misfortune!)
A really nice hub of yours which I hope others visit. Thanks for your comment precy anza. Alun.
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 05, 2012:
Pamela99; it was a pleasure for me to write the review because of all the different sounds and styles of music it introduced me to, as well as factual information in the hubs. Thanks for visiting and reading. I appreciate your comments very much and I'm glad you enjoyed some of the hubs. Alun.
precy anza from USA on September 04, 2012:
Thanks for pointing us out to other folk music hubs Greensleeves :) And thank you for adding my folk song hub on your review. And listening to that xiao flute is just relaxing, hadn't gone to it if it wasn't in your review. Voted up and shared!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 04, 2012:
This is a very unique hub with the great selection of different types of folk music. Very clever on your part. I enjoyed it very much and some of the hubs as well.
Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on September 04, 2012:
My pleasure Jools.
I don't often listen to music stations on the radio Jools, and one of the reasons is that the same stuff gets churned out and repeated time and time again - whatever's current, or whatever's on the playlist. One of the pleasures of checking out the folk music category on HubPages is to discover a whole lot of good music which I've never ever heard before, and your hubs have done that twice for me with the Unthanks and The Weepies and including one on this page was an easy decision. Both are excellent reviews of bands who produce good music. So thanks to you for that. Best wishes. Alun.
Jools Hogg from North-East UK on September 04, 2012:
Very interesting selection of hubs, feel like I have been all over the world in the last 20 minutes. Thanks for including my Unthanks hub, gorra love those Geordie lasses :o)