A collection of terms related to folk music, plus some mini-biographies, musicology terms, trivia, and miscellaneous facts and figures.(last updated .11-08-2008)
© Bill Markwick, Feb/97 Toronto, Ontario Version 3.00
If you'd like to see additions or corrections, please contact me ASAP and I'll begin the edit. E-mail: [email protected].
*** Folk music is an art form for everybody. ***
Folk, or roots music, is intensely loved by its fans and practitioners, so much so that it forms a subculture with a particular lifestyle, especially in English-speaking countries. Because of the large number of fans and their varied preferences, it isn't possible to paint an absolutely accurate portrait. However, there are certain similarities that tend to bind all folkies together in common. Some of these personal characteristics are detailed in folkie profile.
For obvious reasons of limited space, this document is limited to the folk music and folk subculture of North America and Britain. There'll be some Canadian bias.
About the references to folk musicians: I've listed some of the best and most famous; please accept my apologies and explanation if your favorite isn't there. I hope to include many more in future updates.
Quick Start a brief list of some main entries that branch to other related information. The full index lists all the entries.
:Famous Names* Baez, Joan, Carthy, Martin, Child, F.J., Dylan, Bob, Elliott, Jack, Guthrie, Woody, Kingston Trio, Leadbelly, MacColl, Ewan, Ochs, Phil, Paxton, Tom, Seeger, Pete, Weavers.
*General Interest* ballad, blues, Child, F.J., communal origin, electric folk, folk dance, folksong, definition, folk process, folk revival, oral tradition, Sharp, Cecil, song family.
*Instruments* autoharp, bagpipes, banjo, concertina, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, melodeon, psaltery.
*Music Theory* chord, diatonic, do-re-mi, harmony, interval, inversion, key, key signature, mode, octave, pentatonic scale, parts of music, progression, scale, vocal ranges.
*Music Technology* formant, harmonic series, monitor, perfect pitch, pitch, reverb, temperament.
*Historical* carol, Gregorian chant, Guido d'Arezzo, hexachord, historical accuracy, moldy figs, Playford, ritual.
*Sources* books, collectors, Internet folk, magazines.
ABOUT THE FILE
"In lexicography, nothing is ever simple."
Eric S. Raymond, Author/editor, "The Jargon File"
In the case of contentious issues, I've tried to present multiple points of view, but occasionally I'll take sides. I'm responsible for opinions that buzz out at you.
Many of the musical terms, like rubato, are not in common use among folkies, but they do turn up in textbooks and articles about folk music. Musicologists use technical terms that are hard to find.
Spelling is (mostly) Canadian Press style.
There are some old dialect words defined thanks to the Child collections. Don't expect the meanings to be definite; Child mostly explained them in the context of specific ballads. Many of the words marked as Scottish are also found in northern England.
I strove for accuracy in dates for births and deaths, but various books give conflicting numbers (if they give them at all).
Each song or tune *title* (not the lyrics!) in any entry (or in its own entry) is in Appendix A, Songs and Tunes Mentioned.
(For lyric-hunters, see Digital Tradition under Internet folk).
And lastly, my apologies to those who are left-handed: all references to instrument playing assume that the player is right-handed.
8va (also "8ve") a symbol placed near a note to indicate that it is to be played one octave higher or lower; a line pointing up or down is used to show which. The advantage is the minimizing of leger lines.
12-string a guitar with six pairs or courses of strings - see guitar for more information.
98 the song "On Board a 98" refers to a 98-gun ship of the line.
A&R to Axton, Hoyt
bacca pipes to byre
ca to cymbal
dactylic to dynamics
Easy Rider to ey
Fahey, John to furlong
gabenlunzie to Gypsy scale
ha to hyper
iambic to IWW
Jack-in-the-Green to just intonation
Kalb, Danny to kye
LaFarge, Peter to lyrics, online
MacArthur, Margaret to My Grandfather's Clock
Nancy to nylon strings
Oak Publications to overtone
PA to Pythagorean scale
quadruplet to quodlibet
R&B to Rush, Tom
sackbut to syrinx
tablature to Tyson, Sylvia
Uillean pipes to ut
vamp to von Schmidt, Eric
wab to Wyatt, Lorre
xylophone to xylophone
yan, tan, tethera to yowes
zither to Zimmermann, Charles
Songs and Tunes Mentioned
The Folk File: A Folkie's Dictionary Copyright © 1993-2009 Bill Markwick, All Rights Reserved.