5 Facts About British Folk Music

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


5 Facts About British Folk Music
1. British folk music has its roots in the music of the people who were living in Britain before the Romans came.
2. The first written record of British folk music dates from the 12th century.
3. In the 16th and 17th centuries, British folk music was influenced by the music of the Renaissance and the Baroque.
4. The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on British folk music.
5. British folk music

The Origins of British Folk Music

Folk music has been around in Britain for centuries, with its roots stretching back to the early Middle Ages. It’s a genre that’s often been shaped by the country’s history and has been passed down through the generations. Here are five facts about British folk music.

The Celtic Influence

British folk music has its roots in the music of the Celtic people. The Celts were a group of people who lived in present-day Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany (a region in northwestern France). Their music was passed down orally from generation to generation and was very different from the music of other European cultures.

The Celtic sound is characterized by the use of traditional instruments like the fiddle, accordion, bagpipes and harp. Celtic music is often joyful and lively, with a strong rhythm that is perfect for dancing.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a renewed interest in Celtic culture and music. This was partly due to the work of researchers like Cecil Sharp, who collected and published traditional songs from the British Isles. Sharp’s work helped to preserve Celtic folk music and make it popular again.

Today, British folk music has undergone a revival thanks to musicians like Bob Dylan, Pentangle and Fairport Convention. These artists have updated traditional folk songs with modern sounds and instrumentation, making them appeal to a new audience.

The Anglo-Saxon Influence

The Anglo-Saxon’s arrival in Britain in the 5th century had a significant influence on the development of British folk music. The Anglo-Saxons were a warlike people and their music reflected this, with songs about heroism and battle. Many of these songs were passed down from generation to generation and are still sung today.

The Anglo-Saxons also brought with them a love of storytelling, which is reflected in the traditional folk songs of Britain. Many of these songs tell stories of love, loss, and betrayal. The Anglo-Saxon influence can still be heard in modern folk music, with many artists incorporating themes of love and loss into their songs.

The Instruments of British Folk Music

Many instruments are used in British Folk music, with the most popular being the fiddle, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and whistle. The guitar, mandolin, and bouzouki are also common. The bagpipes, bodhran, and uilleann pipes are less common, but still used in some folk music.

The Fiddle

The fiddle is a key instrument in British folk music, and most traditional folk bands will have at least one fiddle player. Fiddles come in many different sizes and are played with a bow, making them similar to violins. The sound of a fiddle can range from sweet and mellow to fast and lively, which makes them perfect for dancing.

There are many different regional styles of fiddle playing in the UK, as each area has its own traditional tunes. Some of the most popular regional styles include the Scottish Highlands, Irish jigs and reels, and English Morris dancing.

The Bagpipes

The bagpipes are a type of musical instrument that have been around for centuries. They are most commonly associated with Scottish culture, but they actually have a long history in other parts of the world as well.

There are many different types of bagpipes, but the most common type is the Highland bagpipe. This type of instrument is made up of three parts: the chanter, which is the part that you blow into; the drones, which are the cylindrical pipes that produce a constant sound; and the bags, which store air and allow you to control the flow of air through the instrument.

Bagpipes are traditionally played outdoors, and they are often used in military and ceremonial settings. They can be accompanied by other instruments, but they are typically played solo.

If you’ve ever heard a bagpipe being played, you’ll know that it’s a very distinctive sound. The Highland bagpipe is perhaps the most iconic type of bagpipe, and it’s certainly one of the most recognizable musical instruments in the world.

The Guitar

Guitars are often used in British folk music, especially in American-influenced styles. The most common type of guitar used is the acoustic guitar, although electric guitars are sometimes used as well. Guitars can be played solo or in accompaniment with other instruments.

The Styles of British Folk Music

Broadly speaking, there are five distinct style of British folk music. These are: Celtic, Anglo-American, Music Hall, Traditional and Contemporary. Celtic folk music includes the folk music of Wales and Scotland. Anglo-American folk music includes the folk music of England and America. Music Hall is a type of British popular entertainment which began in the Victorian era. Traditional folk music is the music of the British Isles which has been passed down orally. Contemporary folk music includes both traditional and modern styles.


Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, to describe orally transmitted popular songs. Traditional folk music also includes most indigenous music.

Although the term is only descriptive, in some cases people use it as the name of a genre. For example, mass media have used the term “traditional folk” to describe Scottish country dancing and certain types of English folksinging and guitar playing, and “roots music” is sometimes used synonymously with traditional folk music. When Maud Karpeles and Cecil Sharp began collecting traditional songs in England and North America at the beginning of the 20th century, they were influenced by contemporary developments in anthropology and sociology.


Contemporary British folk music has its roots in the traditional music of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but has been influenced by a wide range of other genres, from jazz and rock to electronic music.

There are a number of reasons why British folk music is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. In part, it is thanks to the success of artists like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, who have brought the sound of British folk music to a wider audience.

But it is also due to the fact that more and more people are rediscovering the joys of traditional folk music, whether it’s attending a folk festival or simply downloading a folk album.

Here are five facts about contemporary British folk music:

1. One of the most popular contemporary British folk bands is Mumford & Sons, who have won multiple Grammy Awards and sold millions of albums worldwide.

2. Other popular contemporary British folk bands include The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers and The Decemberists.

3. Folk festivals are becoming increasingly popular in Britain, with events like Glastonbury and Kendal Calling attracting huge crowds each year.

4. Contemporary British folk music often includes elements of other genres, such as rock, jazz and electronic music.

5. There is a growing trend for people to create their own versions of traditional folk songs using modern technology, such as online streaming services or social media platforms.

The Popularity of British Folk Music

Folk music has been around for centuries, and it’s still going strong today. In fact, British folk music is more popular than ever. Here are five facts about this genre of music that you may not know.

In the UK

British folk music has experienced something of a resurgence in recent years, with a new generation of artists taking influence from the traditional music of their homeland and giving it a contemporary twist. From Windham Hill’s Oysterband to The Decemberists and beyond, British folk music is enjoying increased popularity both at home and abroad. Here are five facts about this vibrant musical genre.

1. Folk music has been part of the British musical landscape for centuries.

2. The term “folk music” encompasses a wide range of musical styles, from traditional ballads to more modern, contemporary soundscapes.

3. Folk music often tells stories about the history and culture of the British Isles, making it a rich source of information about the UK’s past.

4. British folk music has been influenced by a number of different cultures over the years, including Celtic, Nordic and Gaelic traditions.

5. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in British folk music, with many new artists taking influence from the genre’s rich history and traditions.

In the US

Although British folk music is not as widely known in the United States as genres like rock or pop, it has had a significant impact on American culture. Here are five facts about British folk music:

1.British folk music has its roots in the music of the British Isles, including England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

2.Folk music was traditionally passed down orally from generation to generation, and was only written down in the 18th century.

3.Folk music often tells stories about the everyday lives of the people who created it, and reflects their culture and values.

4.British folk music has been influential in the development of American folk music, and has been performed by artists such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

5.In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in British folk music, with artists such as Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers incorporating it into their own sound.

The Future of British Folk Music

There is no denying that British folk music is enjoying a renaissance at the moment. Younger audiences are lapping up the sounds of the likes of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, and even more traditional acts like The Staves are finding a whole new audience. But what does the future hold for British folk music? Here are five facts that suggest it has a bright future.

The Young Generation

Though some might say that British folk music is a dying genre, there are actually many young people who are keeping the tradition alive. Here are five facts about the future of British folk music:

1. There are many young British folk musicians who are keeping the tradition alive.
2. These musicians are often playing traditional songs with a modern twist.
3. Many young people are interested in learning how to play traditional folk instruments.
4. There are a number of youth Folk ensembles across the United Kingdom.
5. The future of British Folk music is in good hands!

The Impact of Technology

Folk music in Britain has been changing and evolving since the genre first began being documented in the 18th century. In recent years, however, there has been a particular focus on how technology is impacting British folk music and its future. Here are 5 facts about British folk music and the impact of technology:

1. Technology has made it easier for folk musicians to connect with each other and share their music.

2. Social media platforms have given folk musicians a wider audience to reach, helping to promote the genre to a new generation of listeners.

3. Technology has also made it easier for folk musicians to create new and innovative sounds by experimenting with different instruments and recording techniques.

4. Virtual reality technology is beginning to be used by some folk musicians as a way of transporting audiences into the world of their music, giving them a more immersive experience.

5. It is not just traditional folk music that is being affected by technology – modern artists who incorporate elements of folk into their work are also finding new ways to use technology to their advantage.

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