Folk Music in Europe vs Folk Music in the US

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A discussion of the differences between folk music in Europe and the United States, and how each has influenced the other.


Folk music is an important part of the musical heritage of both Europe and the United States. Although the two regions have their own distinct musical traditions, there are also some similarities between the two.

In general, European folk music is more traditional and conservative than its American counterpart. European folk music is often based on ancient melodies and rhythms, while American folk music tends to be more innovative and experimental.

American folk music is also more likely to be influenced by other genres, such as blues and jazz. In contrast, European folk music often remains true to its roots, with a focus on traditional instruments and sounds.

Folk Music in Europe

Folk music in Europe has a rich and varied history, with each region having its own unique sound and style. Folk music in the US, on the other hand, is more often associated with the music of the Appalachians or the cowboy songs of the west.


Folk music is music passed down through the generations in a society, often without being written down. It includes songs, instruments and dances that are unique to a particular culture.

Folk music has existed in Europe for centuries, and each country has its own unique style. In the United States, folk music is also very popular, but it has its own distinct history.

Folk music in Europe can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when minstrels would travel from town to town, performing songs and stories. As time went on, this tradition evolved into what we now think of as folk music.

Folk music in the United States has its roots in the music of the British Isles and Ireland. Early American folk musicians would often play songs from these countries, as well as create new songs about their own experiences.

Today, folk music is still very popular in both Europe and the United States. Each continent has its own unique style of folk music, which is reflective of the cultures that live there.


Folk music in Europe has many different characteristics that set it apart from folk music in the United States. For one, the music is often much more acoustic in nature and relies heavily on traditional instruments like the fiddle, accordion, and guitar. Additionally, European folk music often tells stories or captures the history of a particular region or country, which is something that is not as common in American folk music. Finally, European folk music tends to be very danceable and upbeat, making it perfect for festivals and other lively events.

Notable Performers

There are many Folk music performers in Europe who have made a significant impact on the genre. Some of these performers include:

-Bob Dylan: Dylan is one of the most influential and renowned folk musicians in history. His songs often deal with social and political issues, and he has been a major voice in the American Folk scene for over 50 years.
-Joan Baez: Baez is another highly influential folk singer, known for her beautiful voice and her commitment to social justice. She has been arrested numerous times for protesting various issues, and she has been a major force in the American Folk scene since the 1960s.
-Simon and Garfunkel: Simon and Garfunkel were a hugely successful folk-rock duo in the 1960s and 1970s. Their music often dealt with personal and Relationship issues, and they are still highly respected today.

Folk Music in the US

The United States is home to many different cultures and ethnic groups, each with their own unique music and traditions. One type of music that is enjoyed by people all over the world is folk music. Folk music is a genre of music that is passed down from generation to generation and is typically associated with a particular culture or region.


Folk music in the United States has its roots in the music of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Other countries with strong folk traditions, such as Italy, Greece, Spain and Scandinavian countries, also influenced American folk music.

The first people to settle in the United States came from England and brought with them their traditional songs and tunes. Irish and Scottish immigrants also brought their music with them when they came to America. These early folk songs were about religious subjects, love, work and home. Often, they were sad songs about hard times or lost love.


Folk music in the United States is varied and has been influenced by many cultures. The music is often passed down orally from generation to generation, and sometimes the songs are written down and published. The music is a mix of many different cultures, including English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, German, African American, and Native American. The early folk music of the United States was primarily influenced by the British Isles. Folk music in the United States often includes ballads (narrative songs), work songs (songs sung while working), chants (rhythmic songs), spirituals (religious songs), and lullabies (songs sung to babies).

There are many different types of folk music in the United States. Some common types include bluegrass, country, Celtic, Appalachian, Cajun, and blues. Folk music in the United States has been influence by many different cultures over the years.

One of the most influential types of folk music in the United States is bluegrass. Bluegrass is a type of country music that originated in the southern mountains of Appalachia. It is a mix of English, Irish, Scottish, and African American influences. Bluegrass instruments include the banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and bass. The best-known bluegrass artists include Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and Lester Flatt. Bluegrass is often described as being fast-paced and high-energy.

Country music is another type of folk music that is popular in the United States. Country music originated in the southern mountains of Appalachia as well. It is a mix of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Germanic ,and African American influences. Country instruments include the guitar , banjo , fiddle , mandolin , piano , Dobro steel guitar , and upright bass . The best-known country artists include Patsy Cline , Hank Williams , Loretta Lynn , Johnny Cash Merle Haggard Willie Nelson George Strait Garth Brooks Reba McEntire Alabama Shania Twain Brooks & Dunn Faith Hill Tim McGraw Toby Keith Alan Jackson Carrie Underwood Brad Paisley Blake Shelton Jason Aldean Keith Urban Florida Georgia Line Zac Brown Band Lady Antebellum Rascal Flatts Little Big Town Sugarland Midland Brothers Osborne LANCO Chris Stapleton Maren Morris Sam Hunt Brothers Osborne Kane Brown Ashley McBryde Kacey Musgraves Mitchell Tenpenny Runaway June Jordan Davis Lil Nas X Dan + Shay Old Dominion Scotty McCreery Chris Lane Margo Price Yola accumulation Clint Black Patty Loveless Travis Tritt Alan Jackson Dwight Yoakam Vince Gill Emmylou Harris Rodney Crowell Pam Tillis Confederate Railroad Travis Tritt Joe Diffie Johnny Cash Rosanne Cash Waylon Jennings Kris Kristofferson Willie Nelson Dolly Parton George Jones Tammy Wynette Randy Travis Josh Turner Keith Urban Keegan McInroe Jon Pardi Midland Luke Combs Granger Smith Cole Swindell Brantley Gilbert Cody Johnson Dustin Lynch Eric Church Jake Owen Jason Aldean Kane Brown Kenny Chesney Kip Moore Lady A Maddie & Tae Dustin Lynch Maren Morris Old Dominion Randy Houser Sam Hunt Thomas Rhett Trace Adkins Tyler Childers Zac Brown Band Brett Eldredge Brothers Osborne Chase Rice Dustin Lynch Dylan Scott Florida Georgia Line Granger Smith Hardy Jason Aldean Jon Pardi Kane Brown Keith Urban Kelsea Ballerini Kenny Chesney Lady A Mitchell Tenpenny Morgan Wallen Nashville Obscure Parks Brothers Prismaticism RaeLynn Reasons Sheppard Sheryl Crow Sister Hazel Southern Strut Tamara MorganThe Cadillac Three Trent Harmon Tyler Hubbard Tyler Rich William Michael Morgan Zac Brown Band ZBB

Notable Performers

In the United States, folk music is often associated with bluegrass music, which is a form of country music. Some of the most famous performers of folk music in the US are The Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger. The Carter Family was a country music band that recorded some of the first commercial country music, and their songs are still popular today. Woody Guthrie was a singer-songwriter who wrote songs about the working class and social justice. Pete Seeger was a musician and political activist who helped popularize folk music in the US in the mid-twentieth century.


In conclusion, there are many similarities and differences between folk music in Europe and the United States. Both regions have a rich history of folk music that has been passed down through the generations. However, there are also some distinct differences between the two styles of music. European folk music is generally more relaxed and mellow, while American folk music is more energetic and upbeat.

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