The Scholars Who Seek to Classify and Preserve Folk/Ethnic Music Are

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The scholars who seek to classify and preserve folk/ethnic music are often the same people who are the music’s biggest fans.

Defining Folk/Ethnic Music

In musicology, the terms “folk music” and “ethnic music” are used to describe various types of music by people who share a common culture or tradition. Folk music includes traditional folk songs, folktales, and folk dances, while ethnic music includes traditional music from a particular ethnic group.

What is Folk Music?

Folk music is the music of the people. It is passed down through the generations by word of mouth, and is often about the everyday lives of the people who sing it. Folk music can be about love, loss, work, or play. It can be happy or sad, serious or funny. Folk music is usually sung in the languages of the people who sing it.

There are many different types of folk music from all over the world. Some examples of folk music include American folk songs like “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” and “home on the Range”; Appalachian mountain music like “Wildwood Flower” and “Sittin’ on Top of the World”; Chinese folk songs like “Mo Li Hua” (Jasmine Flower) and “Wo Zhou Nan Guo” (I Crossed a Thousand Mountains to Find You); Cuban folksongs like “Guantanamera” and “La Bamba”; Irish folk songs like “Danny Boy” and “Whiskey in the Jar”; Italian folk songs like “Santa Lucia” and “Volare”; Mexican folk songs like “La Cucaracha” and “La Bamba”; Russian folk songs like “Kalinka” and “Stenka Razin”; Scottish ballads like “Barbara Allen” and “Loch Lomond”.

Many traditional folk songs have been passed down for centuries, and some have even been written down. However, most folk music is learned by ear. This means that it is not written down in sheet music, but is instead memorized and passed on from person to person. Folk musicians sometimes improvise or add their own original verses to traditional tunes.

What is Ethnic Music?

Ethnic music is music typically associated with a certain ethnic group. In some cases, it is music passed down within a family or community, while in others it is music created by a professional composer for public performance. Music can be classified as ethnic based on its subject matter, its use of traditional instruments, or its style of composition. Many times, it is a combination of all three.

Ethnic music often has cultural and historical significance. For example, folk songs can tell stories about a people’s history and way of life. They can also be used to teach children about their heritage. Ethnic music is also significant because it can help preserve the traditions and values of a culture.

There are many different types of ethnic music from around the world. Some examples include American folk music, Celtic music, Chinese music, Indian classical music, Japanese gagaku, and Kurdish music.

Classification of Folk/Ethnic Music

Many scholars believe that music should be classified and preserved in order to prevent it from being lost. Folk and ethnic music is often passed down from generation to generation, and is an important part of many cultures. Music scholars have been debating the best way to classify and preserve this type of music for centuries.

The Various Types of Folk/Ethnic Music

There are many different types of folk and ethnic music from around the world. Here are just a few of the more common genres:

Celtic music is a genre of folk music that originated in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. Celtic music is characterized by its use of traditional instruments such as the fiddle, bagpipe, and accordion, as well as by its distinctive melodies and harmonies.

Reggae is a genre of Jamaican popular music that originated in the late 1960s. Reggae is characterized by its slow, relaxed beats and its focus on social and political issues.

Blues is a genre of American popular music that originated in the African-American communities of the Southern United States in the late 19th century. Blues is characterized by its soulful, emotive vocals and its use of improvisation.

Jazz is a genre of American popular music that originated in New Orleans in the late 19th century. Jazz is characterized by its syncopated rhythms, improvisation, and blues-influenced harmonies.

The Various Instruments Used in Folk/Ethnic Music

The various instruments used in folk/ethnic music include guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, accordions, harmonicas, and pianos. Drum machines are also used in some cases. Folk/ethnic music is often performed solo or with a small group of musicians.

The Significance of Folk/Ethnic Music

The scholars who seek to classify and preserve folk/ethnic music are often drawn to it because of its simplicity. Folk music often uses the same chord progressions, melodies, and rhythms over and over, which can make it seem repetitive. However, this repetition can also be seen as one of the strengths of folk music.

The Importance of Folk/Ethnic Music

Folk and ethnic music play an important role in the lives of people around the world. For many, it is a source of identity, pride and community. It can also be a source of income for performers and a way to preserve cultural traditions.

The scholars who seek to classify and preserve folk/ethnic music are often faced with the challenge of maintaining the integrity of the music while also making it accessible to wider audiences. This can be difficult, as folk/ethnic music is often passed down through generations by oral tradition and is not always written down.

However, the effort to preserve and promote folk/ethnic music is important, as it can help to keep cultural traditions alive and give people a sense of connection to their heritage. It can also provide opportunities for people to experience different cultures and gain a greater understanding of the world around them.

The Influence of Folk/Ethnic Music

The scholars who seek to classify and preserve folk/ethnic music are unintentionally participating in a colonialist enterprise. By classifying music according to its geographic or ethnic origin, they are reinforcing the notion that there is a hierarchy of musical genres, with Western classical music at the top and folk/ethnic music at the bottom. This hierarchy is based on the false assumption that Western classical music is superior to all other types of music. In reality, there is no such thing as superior or inferior music; there is only music that we like or dislike. Folk/ethnic music is just as valid and worthwhile as any other type of music.

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