The Difference Between Folk and Country Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A lot of people think that folk and country music are the same genre. While they are both Americana music, there are some key differences between the two.

Folk Music

Folk music is a type of traditional and usually rural music that used to be passed down by word of mouth. Folk music is often about the stories of the common people, and it often has a strong sense of community. Country music, on the other hand, is a type of music that developed in the United States in the 1920s. Country music is often about the stories of the working class, and it has a focus on instruments like the guitar and banjo.


Folk music originates from the common people of a region or country. It is passed down orally from generation to generation and often exists in several different versions within a community. The music is usually about the everyday lives of the people, their hopes and dreams, their love and sorrow, and celebrates important events such as weddings and births. Folk songs can be sad, happy, funny, or serious.

Country music also has its roots in the folk tradition. It developed in the rural southern United States in the early 20th century and was influenced by African American music, as well as Scottish and Irish ballads. Country music is about the lives of rural Americans and often tells stories of love, loss, heartache, and redemption. Like folk music, it can be sad, happy, funny, or serious.


Folk music is a genre of music that is typically passed down orally from generation to generation. Folk music is traditionally associated with rural communities and the working class, and is often seen as a symbol of national identity.

Country music is a genre of music that originated in the southern United States in the early 20th century. Country music is a mix of folk, blues, and pop, and is often associated with images of the American heartland.

Country Music

Country music is a genre of music that originated in the southern United States in the 1920s. It typically consists of ballads and dance tunes with simple forms, folk lyrics, and harmonies mostly accompanied by string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars, and fiddles.


The origins of country music are often traced back to the 1920s, when it emerged from a combination of folk music, blues, and gospel. It was most popular in the rural south, where it was often played on stringed instruments like the banjo and fiddle.

In the 1930s and 1940s, country music became more popular nationwide thanks to the rise of radio and recording technologies. It was also during this time that the genre began to evolve, with artists like Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers adding elements of blues and western swing.

Country music continued to grow in popularity through the 1950s and 1960s, with artists like Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton becoming household names. In recent years, the genre has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to a new generation of artists like Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley.


The biggest difference between folk and country music is probably in their instrumentation. Folk music is often acoustic, with guitars, banjos, and harmonicas being the most common instruments. Country music, on the other hand, is often electric, with violins, electric guitars, and steel guitars being more common.

Another big difference is in the lyrics. Folk songs are often about stories or characters, while country songs are often about love and heartbreak. Country songs also tend to be more positive than folk songs; they often have a happy ending, while folk songs can be more tragic.

The two genres also have different origins. Folk music has its roots in the oral traditions of different cultures, while country music has its roots in American popular culture.


There are many different types of music out there, and it can be difficult to keep them all straight. Two genres that are often confused with each other are folk and country music. Though they share some similarities, they are actually quite different. Here is a closer look at the two genres.


Though the terms “folk” and “country” are often used interchangeably, there are some important distinctions between the two genres. Both forms of music have their roots in the oral tradition, and both grew out of the music of the common people. Folk music is, by definition, the music of the folk—the regular people, as opposed to the aristocracy or other elite classes. Country music, on the other hand, developed from a mix of folk and popular traditions.

Both folk and country music are often based on stories andballads that were passed down from generation to generation, and both often make use of traditional instruments like acoustic guitars, banjos, and fiddles. Folk songs tend to be shorter and simpler than country songs, however, and are more likely to be about personal experiences or everyday life. Country songs, meanwhile, often tell stories about love, loss, and heartbreak—often with a focus on rural life or small-town values.

Though there are certainly overlap between the two genres—and many artists who bridges the gap between them—there are also some key differences that set them apart. The next time you’re in the mood for some toe-tapping tunes, be sure to choose the style that best suits your mood.


Folk music is typically rooted in the traditions of a particular region or culture. The songs often tell stories about the everyday lives of the people in that culture. Folk music has been passed down through the generations by people who simply know the songs and teach them to others. This type of music is usually performed by acoustic instruments, such as guitars, banjos, and mandolins. Country music is a type of folk music that originated in the southern United States. It is often characterized by its storytelling, simple melodies, and twangy guitars. Country music has been influenced by various other genres over the years, including blues and rock n’ roll.

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