English Folk Music

England’s Folk music has a long history. The United Kingdom, like the United States, underwent a Folk music revival in the latter half of the 20th century. The term Folk music originated in England, with the British taking the German word “volk”, meaning people, and slightly changing it to Folk music, in order to represent that Folk music was the music of the common people who couldn’t read, and so told their stories and tales through song.

Not very much is known of traditional Folk music in England before the 19th century, due to the lack of written manuscripts of their songs. What is known is that in the 16th and 17th centuries, Renaissance influenced musical styles were those most appreciated by the nobility and royalty in England. In the 19th century, with the Industrial Revolution, the brass band became popular, and as people moved in mass from the countryside growing herbs to the cities to work in factories, the Folk music industry in England changed just as rapidly. The music hall was developed, and became the prominent place where the new style of Folk music was played for over a century. In the country, traditional Folk music remained for a while longer, but eventually it too was taken over by the new forms which had become popular in the cities: comic operas, hymns and songs among the most popular.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Folk music became that of light classical composers, whose popularity was increased with the invention of the radio, so their music could be spread. Operetta and musical comedies were also extremely popular in this area.

However, after World War II, a more romantic style of music became popular. In the 1960s, a combination of political activism in folk music and “electric folk”, using instruments such as the electric guitar to play folk music caused uproar in England. However, the popularity of Folk music did not decline, and instead continued to increase until the early 70s, when new forms of music such as disco became popular. In the 80s, a new revival began in which folk music was combined with punk rock and political protest. It remains popular to this day, though not quite as popular as it was during the 50s and 60s.

English Folk music has had a long history over thousands of years. Many individual regions of England have their own traditional Folk music styles and traditions which have survived through the years, though are not very well known, nor very popular other than the region in which they originated. Yorkshire, for example, has its own Folk music style, as does Sussex. However, the popular English Folk music, which began during the industrial revolution and evolved today to become what it is, a rock-style politically charged style which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, is popular around the world, much like the Folk music of the United States.