Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

The folk & traditional music of Europe, Africa & the Americas explored.

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204 WESTERN FOLK MUSIC IN THE AMERICAS
are safe in assuming that the presence of the Negro culture in Amer­ica is one of the important factors that make Anglo-American folk music distinct from its British counterpart.
The American folk music scene is a fitting one for closing a sur­vey of folk and traditional music in the Western continents, for it shows us many of the things that are typical and interesting in folk music everywhere—the preservation of archaic forms, the creation of new styles under the impact of acculturation, special developments due to particular trends in cultural values, and the growth of a spe­cial kind of folk music culture in the modern city.
One of the things that our consideration of folk music in the Americas and, indeed, of folk and traditional music everywhere, has shown is the condition of flux in which the material is constantly found. Change, brought about through intercultural contact and through the creative elements within each society, has evidently been present in even the simplest cultures, and it has increased in rapidity as the world's traditions are thrown into contact and conflict with each other as a result of the accelerating Westernization of the en­tire planet. Will it be possible for traditional musics to survive and to retain some measure of the distinctiveness which has characterized them in the past? Prognostication is not our task here. But if we con­sider folk music as merely the product of the rural, unlettered classes, and if we consider "primitive" music as nothing but the product of backward peoples, we are bound to find that the traditions in which we are interested are receding and will eventually disappear. On the other hand, if we can retain an interest in the musical cultures of na­tions and peoples rather than of a musically professional elite, and if we are willing to bend our definitions of folk and traditional music to include such things as "popular" music, jazz, and urban folk song, we may be in a position to investigate the kind of music which will replace, in its social function, the folk and traditional music of the past and present.
While we must perhaps concede the eventual disappearance of traditional musics in the present sense of the concept, we should not assume that this demise is imminent. For many decades, some collec­tors have pursued their material with the attitude of a last-minute rescue operation, proclaiming the doom of authentic folklore. And indeed, since traditional music is always changing, something of it must always be disappearing. Nevertheless, each year brings new dis-







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III