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Monday, February 15, 2010

folk music folk music (haagsuitburo/flickr)

In my opinion, the influence of folk music on classical music is often underrepresented. Music History is taught as a linearly-evolving thing, perhaps diverging along French and German lines (Ned Rorem famously divided all Classical Music into “French,” and “German,” regardless of the composer’s nationality). There’s more to composers, however, than their arty predecessors.

In concert works of the 20th and 21st centuries, the influence of all types of non-classical music can be heard. One of concert music’s most influential antecedents has been folk music, of every conceivable shade and origin.

This week, we’ll concentrate on the influences, both subtle and overt, that folk music has had on classical music. Some composers have incorporated folk music into their work as a sort of homage to their native culture; others employ folk elements as a kind of exoticism; still others, much to their chagrin, have had the terms "folk" and "classical" thrust upon them.

To live as a music lover now is to listen to great quantities of massively different things from around the world. With all this globalization, do you think that different traditions of folk music are being saved or destroyed by new, diluted forms?

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Comments [7]

Vance Maverick

"Tzigane" -- perfect. Great piece, and also plays theatrically with the "folk music" trope from 19thC classical music.

I'm thinking that "folk music" is (at an ideal level) music propagated directly, from player to player, as opposed to music mediated by institutions (classical music), notation (classical or, say, military), or recordings. But since 1900, or anyway 1945, recordings are ubiquitous -- every musician learns from recordings. So we get the second level of "folk music", which identifies stylistically with a tradition that was once propagated directly, or which we can at least imagine that way. I can hear Cape Breton fiddle music played by people who've never been to Canada.

Feb. 17 2010 06:18 PM
Vance Maverick from San Francisco

To Gary's question, "folk" elements are a sort of trope in classical music, dating back before Herder but proliferating after. Lots of examples in Haydn, also here and there in Bach (I'm thinking of various quodlibets). Does "L'homme arme" count as a folk tune?

Feb. 16 2010 05:57 PM
Jason Raphael from NYC

Sometimes, things take an unexpected turn. Or so it seems.

Josef Marais was a professional violinist in South Africa who seemingly left the world of classical music and in mid-career, returned to the Hottentot fables of his childhood.

His broadcasts from Studio Blue at NBC brought us Songs of the Veldt with the "Bushveldt Boys" who as Bob Sherman once noted, were members of the NBC Symphony under Toscanini.

Feb. 15 2010 06:59 PM

I just recently got into Bartok. Pretty much the skeleton of his work is all folk music.

And Leonard Bernstein, going beyond even Copland by using his Bar Mitzvah haftorah trop in the second movement of the Jeremiah Symphony.

Feb. 15 2010 03:46 PM
Richard Friedman from Oakland, CA

Nadia:
Thanks so much for playing the music of Ann Southam. This Canadian composer, now in her 70s, is not as well known as she should be. And thanks to Eve Egoyan's recordings hopefully she will be. I've been featuring her music on MUSIC FROM OTHER MINDS on KALW here in San Francisco (http://otherminds.org/mfom).

Also, that recording you played of Berio's FOLK SONGS really shows how much the work was intended for Cathy Berberian, and only Cathy Berberian. It was really not a very convincing performance.

Still, you're doing an excellent job. Keep the music coming. I used to listen to WQXR when I was a kid in NYC. It was how I acquired my musical education. But it was WNYC who actually broadcast Varese's Ionization in the 50's for the first time. QXR become o so boring eventually. What a transformation!!

Feb. 15 2010 02:40 PM

Ives, Vaughan Williams and Bryars, all on a Monday. How cool is that? Great program today, thanks!

As to your question, Nadia, globalization in art forms tends to help various idioms actually define themselves more clearly. Practitioners learn more about what they're doing when there's contrast with what others are up to. So dilution isn't a problem, but audience retention might be at local levels. How are you going to keep them down on the farm, once they've heard Paris? ... Berlin? ... Tokyo? ... Cape Town? ... Moscow? ... Warsaw? ... Helsinki? ... Bogota? ... Havana? ... Athens? ... Hong Kong? ...

Feb. 15 2010 02:04 PM
gary gach from russian hill

as always another great theme

question : did western aesthetics make division between " folk " music as unpolished versus "high" art ? ( herder coined the phrase ). ¿ similar to what happened in ancient china with its "music bureau"?

& how much borrowing ever since from one to the other ( ornette quotes stravinsky , bartok quotes magyar folk tunes )

ever notice how the themes in dvorak's serenade for strings sound like folk songs but are really composed by him

interesting topic here & look forward to your adumbration note by note

c! c! c!

Feb. 15 2010 12:35 PM

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