The Basics of Writing a Folk Song

What is Folk Music?

Folk music can be found across all musical genres and in all cultures. It has been a method of entertainment for numerous generations and it has been a means for people to record memorable events that have happened in their lives or in their communities. Folk songs have long been used by musicians to address political and social issues and situations.

Folk songs aren’t just used to deliver political and social messages. They tell us stories and entertain us; often teaching a lesson that otherwise may have been forgotten. Many folk songs have been handed down from generation to generation and carry with them bits of history along with reminders of where we came from and who we are today.

The First Steps to Writing a Folk Song

Folk songs are intensely personal to those who write them, and that should be one of the first things that you consider when you set out to write a folk song. What are you trying to convey with the song? Is it intended to be a message for other people about a situation that you feel strongly about? Or perhaps you want to tell a story about your heritage or culture? Maybe there’s a legend that you would like to translate into a musical piece. The following steps can help you along your way.

Research: If you intend to write a folk song, it’s important that you know your topic. If you’re writing about politics or social issues, watch the news, read the paper, and stay on top of what is going on. Jot down key points for later reference. If you intend to create a song about your culture, or if your intention is to write about a legend or a historical figure, visit libraries and cultural centers to learn all that you can.

Go with the flow: Writing music is not the same as writing a research paper or a business report, you need to encourage your creative flow. Write down a few key phrases that relate to what you want your folk song to be about. Consider them as you go about your day. Carry them with you in a small notebook that you can use if you are inspired by new lines for your song. Try and visit locations that relate to or remind you of the song that you’re creating. Write down lyrics that come to you, even if they’re just snippets, so that you can consider them later.

Start looking for the tune: As you begin to write down the lyrics for your song, also take the time to consider what kind of tune that it should be set to. What emotions are you trying to convey? Think about what kind of music would best suit your song. Play around with different tones by humming notes to see if you can determine exactly what kind of tune that your song needs. A pocket recorder can be very helpful at this stage so that you can record any notes or tunes that seem appropriate.

Building the Tune

Once you have a general idea of the feeling that your song is intended to evoke, it’s time to start creating the melody. If you know how to play a musical instrument such as a guitar or keyboard, the creation of your tune will be a lot easier. Try playing around with different keys to see what emotions are evoked, switching up your strumming or keyboard rhythms to express different feelings. You can also develop a melody with the use of your voice. Start out by singing random notes and playing around with them, switching between flats and sharps, high notes and low notes. Eventually, you will come across a melody that suits your song.

Creating the Lyrics

Now that you have your basic melody down, it’s time to put your song together. The most common folk song structure is four-line verses, rhyming the 2nd line with the 4th line. Typically, a chorus is included between the verses. Or if you want something different, it is also common for folk songs to be arranged in a one-part song format, where the chorus is omitted and a repeating line is included at the end of each verse. Both of these methods are intended to make the song easy to follow as well as easy to remember.

Gather up all of the lyrics that you have jotted down and start putting them together to create your verses. Even if your initial efforts aren’t producing the desired result, this stage of the writing process will often guide you in creating your finished song. Rearrange your wording and tweak your verse layout to help build the song structure. Sing the phrases repeatedly to get a feel for them and to aid you in developing lyrics that have a natural flow and rhythm.

Finishing Touches

Once you have the general layout of your song completed, with verses in place and choruses or repeating lines written, it’s time to finalize your song. Start by reading and then singing the song through several times. Does it have an easy natural flow? Does it evoke the feelings that you intended? Does it convey your message? Don’t be afraid to edit your song. Often when working on a song, it’s easy to become so attached to what you’ve written that it’s hard to remove any parts that don’t seem to work. Change or remove any lines that don’t seem to flow easily in the song in order to prevent break-ups in the storyline or the melody.

After you’ve got the song to a point where you feel satisfied with it, practice singing it until you’re able to do so in a smooth manner. Then, if you intend for it to be accompanied by a musical instrument, continue to practice singing the song along with the music until you are able to sing along in a natural, appealing manner. Now, share the song with family and friends to continue a tradition that has been a source of entertainment and enlightenment for generations!

Top Signs That You’re A Country Music Die-Hard

There are a large number of people out there that love country music and then there is a group of people out there that take their love of this type of music to a whole new level. So exactly how do you tell those that like country music from those that love country music, let’s take a look at a few of the top signs? To help better identify those that are avid lovers of country music.

Can Relate to the Song

The first sign is that you can really relate to the lyrics of the song. There are certain people that when they hear a country music song, can really relate to it as they either have had the events happen or feel the same way.

You Want to get up and Dance

When your favorite song comes on the radio or the jukebox, you can’t help but get up and want to dance. This urge to dance will all but overtake you and lead you to the point that you can’t do anything else. This is something that only a true Country Music fan can relate to and understand.

You know every lyric to your favorite Artist

When you can sing every song to perfection, then you very well may be a fan of country music and more than just like it. There are those fans that know their favorite songs more than the artist does. This is a sign that the person takes their country music seriously.

Your Boots are on display at every opportunity

When you have the chance to show off your cowboy boots, you take the chance and do it as many times as possible to let people know that you are an avid country music fan. Every country music lover has at least two or more sets of boots that they will show off at every chance.

You have a pickup truck in your driveway and you never haul anything

If you have a truck in your driveway and have never even hauled anything then you might just be a country music lover. Even if you don’t have a need for a pickup, you have one in your driveway and keep it clean and show it off as much as you can. This might mean your love of country music is greater than an occasional instance.

All of these are great ways to see if a person does, in fact, love country music or if they are just an occasional listener. The more of these that you can say yes to will mean the better your chances are that you love your music loud and proud. It is okay to let this love show as you are a proud member of the country and you like it that way. Even in a bar, you show your country music love by ordering one of three drinks that just go well with the loud country music.

Although it can be difficult to accurately describe what it is that sets American folk music apart from other types of music, one characteristic would be that it is generally a traditional form of “community music.”

Folk music is sometimes performed by duos, trios and musical groups, but the genre is most frequently performed by solo artists. Even though it is not exclusively an acoustic form of music, this art form is commonly performed with acoustic, non-amplified instruments, particularly acoustic guitars. Acoustic guitars are so synonymous with folk music that they are often referred to as ‘folk guitars.’

The United States is a very large country that is home to many different regional cultures and influences. Consequently, a wide range of regional folk music styles are indigenous to different parts of the nation. Cajun, Appalachian, African-American-inspired, bluegrass and sea shanties are just some of the types of regional folk music styles that can be found in America.

Most folk music songs tell stories of some sort, and the lyrics can suggest lots of imagery. As a music of the people, folk music often commemorates historical events and occasions that are relevant to specific cultures. Many of these songs have been in existence for more than a century and the composers of the songs are largely unknown.

Folk music maintains similarities with some varieties of country music, but also shares some musical traits with the blues format. The songs are often presented in a narrative voice and feature catchy melodies that appeal to a broad spectrum of listeners.

In the mid-20th century, folk music became especially popular in America and major artists began to sing more often about political and social issues.

Through the years American folk music has been fused with other types of music by some artists. In addition to traditional folk music, there are now sub-genres such as alternative folk, contemporary folk, folk-rock and folk-country.

While folk music has never attained the mass-appeal of more commercial types of music, this type of entertainment is still alive and well. College and community radio stations throughout America regularly devote airtime to the genre, and live performances of folk music are well-attended by people of all ages.