Folk Music in The United States


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66                 An Introduction to Folk Music in the United States

sultants in folk song and folklore.

Most of the ethnic groups have semi-official organizations which try to insure the preservation of the folk music heritage.^ Choirs and bands are led by specialists in folk music who, although they participate in the folk tradition, are often trained professionally and have at least a semi-professional status and also specialize in teaching folk music. Thus, although they are instrumental in preserving the musical folk tradition, they are also responsible for some of the differences between rural and urban folk music.

Another aspect of most rural folk songs is communal recreation, the development of variants by creative change on the part of the singers. We are not at all sure whether communal re-creation operates in urban folk music. The indications are that it is weaker than in the country and that standardization is more general. A partial reason must be the rather frequent use of printed folk song collections, albums, and records. Another is the development of specialists who standardize their versions and develop conscious musical behavior.

Musical instruments tend to play a larger part in Detroit folk music than in the rural material, probably because of the preponderance of instrumental music in the city. The instruments themselves have not increased in number, but they are used often, both for solo and accompaniment, and proficiency on an instrument is demanded of most folk singers. The songs which must be sung unaccompanied tend to decline more rapidly than the others.

Most of the folk music of the ethnic groups seems to retain its original function to some extent. Wedding songs are still performed at weddings, dance songs are used for dancing, etc. However, the music of folk songs tends to become more important to the members of the ethnic groups than the song texts and their functions. According to some informants, the quality of a tune is a greater factor in the survival of a song in America than are its words. It is also interesting that folk dancing and knowledge of its details are more wide-spread than mere singing.

Individuals who speak a foreign language as well as EngHsh, and who are thus members of two folk cultures, at least poten-

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