Folk Music in The United States


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Folk Music and Cultivated Music                                            87

1.  Using folk music without essential changes or additions. This usually consists of harmonizations of folk songs with an accompaniment sometimes designed to bring out the folk style, and at other times evidently composed so as to hide the pecuHarities of that style and make the song conform to the standards of cultivated music. The former method is exemplified by the harmonizations of Hungarian, Slovak, and Rumanian folk songs by Bela Bartok; the latter by those of the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh songs by Beethoven. In all of these the original folk melodies have remained undisturbed in their original form, and the composer has contributed only a harmonic setting, inspired, in the case of Bartok, by the songs themselves, and in Beethoven's arrangements, by the composer's own style of harmony.

2.  Using folk melodies which have been changed somewhat to conform with the system and structure of cultivated music. Examples of this category are rarer than of the other two. They are most commonly found where the traditional material is in a style considerably removed from that of the cultivated composer. In the American Indian songs used by American composers, for example, certain pitch differentiations can not easily be reproduced on European instruments. The original Indian material may then be changed so that it can be played by piano or orchestra. Changing the instrument without changing the music itself also comes under this category of arrangement. Similar changes may be made for rhythm and other elements of music. A famous example of this type of folk song use is the second theme of the first movement of Tschaikowsky's Fourth Symphony, based on a folk song, "The Beech Tree."

3.  Composing music imitating a folk style. This category is probably of the greatest interest and may be the most common. Composition of folk-like music, often necessitating some kind of analysis by the composer, ranges from individual motifs and themes to full-length symphonies, as well as such short forms as songs and instrumental character-pieces.

For a professional composer to become something of a folk-composer, which is what happens in the latter category, involves either saturation with a folk style through long contact with the

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