Music originates from Stone Age. Music has always been an important part of any culture and society. The music of a civilization depicts its culture, thoughts and believes. The history depicts musical traditions in ancient cultures if Egypt, China, Mesopotamia and many more places. The Greeks used several musical instruments like cymbals, drums, lyres, horns and harps. Plato and Aristotle suggested music to maintain the discipline of mind. In Europe during the post- roman times the church was the dominant body influencing the development of music. Hymns and soothing melodies became popular during this time.
The Pre historic music did not involve any kind of writing but only sounds of clicking and imitation of natural sounds. These are more sounds than music. Ancient music is the advent of writing. The oldest song was written in cuneiform that was composed around 4000 years ago. Bagpipers created music with pipes that indicate polyphony. Later several string instruments were introduced to create music.
Role of folk music in society
The village society had a melodious social life. People used to gather to sing and make merry. Through this few of them acquired the technique of handling the instrument. They were not formally educated but tried to create music to depict their lifestyle in a melodious way. Many times epic was narrated through music among the mass. In village gathering, folk music played an essential part. The famous forms of music were known as ballads. Ballads were narratives that have repetitive lines. Epics were sometime narrated in heroic form. These were quiet long and required few hours to complete a song. Other forms of songs were based on work, lullabies, love and other kind of lyrical songs. Many times alphabets and numbers were taught to children through music that are commonly known as rhymes. Proverbs and riddles were included as lyrics of these songs. In times of celebrations and festivals music was accompanied by dance. Later during the 19th century in several parts of Europe folk songs were not popular anymore. Old people mostly sang them. During this time, folklorists started to publish these folk songs for the urban audiences. Few alterations were made from the raw version of the folk song to make it presentable to the urban audience. The music had accompaniments of piano. The composers were famous names like Johannes Brahms, Joseph Canteloube and Antonin Dvorak. These folk songs after composition with added music are used in theaters and concert programs. In theatres choirs are used for recreating folk music. In the 18th Century, the ballads contained stories of crimes and accidents. These qualified to become popular music. During 20th-century folk culture nearly declined due to several social movements. At the end of the 20th century, folk rock emerged with variants in mainstream rock.
Folk songs are mainly anonymous. They originate in the society and spread by the word of mouth. They have diverse origins and affect the community at large. It is a depiction of life in oral tradition. It passes from generation to generation and changes with dialects and contemporary times. The factors that change the song are forgetfulness, creativity and ways of expressions. Thus, new styles evolve in folk music in Europe. The acceptance or rejection of the form of folk song is dependent upon the society and its norms and social values. The expression of the singer sometime transforms the entire meaning if the song. The performances made along with singing narrate the folk song. Sometimes the tune of the song is changed for convenience. The initial singer might have sung it on a very high note with a special focus to some words by repetitions. The later singer might wish to express the song in a lighter note and change the tone and the mood of the song.
Music Style and Culture
There is a distinctive style of folk music in Europe. The tone and voice is harsh, tense and involves a great deal of ornamentation. The singers are trained specifically to sing in that style. The tone and the music will vary every time in means of class and ethnicity. Influence of European Music on English culture can be significantly visible through folk music. There were two basic styles of singing in European folk music. Thus was named by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok. The two styles are- tempo giusto and parlando-rubato. In tempo giusto an even tempo is maintained along with metric patterns. Parlando-rubato, stresses on words and is highly ornamented. Based on this, three singing styles evolved- Modern European, modern European and Eurasian. The Eurasian is commonly seen in Southern Europe, Ireland, Britain, Middle East and South Asia. It is a form of ornamented solo singing. The old European style is more relaxed and produces full voice. It is often seen in central, northern and eastern parts of Europe and is used for group singing. The modern European form is popular in western and urban Europe having a modern European style.