Lesson #7: The Birth of Folk Music 

Your Destination: From its origins, folk music has been the music of the working class. It is community-focused and has rarely enjoyed commercial success. By definition, it’s something that can be enjoyed by everyone, something that everyone can understand. Folk subjects include war, work, and civil rights to nonsense, parody, and love. 

Using the handout, you can write your own authentic Folk song! 

Tool Kit: Blue Collar Ballads and pencils.

On the Path: 

Step 1:  Look online for different Folk artists and songs. One popular Folk artist during the time was Woody Guthrie 

Step 2: What makes the music they are singing different from what we hear today? What makes the songs similar? What topics do they cover? What instruments are mainly used? Makes notes on how they sing about the topics they cover. 

Step 3: Using the handout, write the lyrics to your own Folk song using the spaces provided. Once you write them, come up with an exciting name for your new folk hit.

Group Tour: Sing your new song to your friends and family, or just show them the lyrics if you’re stage shy. What do they think of your song? Can they relate to what you wrote? Can they think of any lyrics they would want to add? 

Extend Your Journey: If you are musically inclined, you can try playing traditional Folk music on an instrument of your choice, the guitar being the most common. If you are not as musical, try and find some more modern folk music that you might want to add to your own playlist. My personal favorites are The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons. 

Learn new vocabulary: Blue Collar, civil rights, mainstream culture 

Access our instructional video: Art & Music History 

Evolution of Art & Music 1900 - 1950: Part 7: The Birth Of Folk - YouTube

Find resources and visual aids:  

https://www.npr.org/2012/07/05/156301144/woody-guthries-indelible-mark-on-american-culture 

https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-folk-music-definition-artists-history.html 

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Folk_music 

Blue Collar Ballads

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