• Learn More About English Folk Songs
Grade 6, Log On
England is a region of Great Britain, a large island of the western coast of Europe that also includes Wales and Scotland. Though the terms English and British are often used incorrectly, English people live in south and east part of the British island. The city of London is found in England and has been its capital since Roman times.
What is a Folk Song?
A folk song is music that does not have a known composer and is passed from person to person by an oral (not written) tradition. Folk songs often change each time they are performed, so the words, melody, or even rhythm might be different depending on who sings the song. Folk songs are also usually performed by amateurs.
The lyrics of English folk songs can be about almost any subject: love, death, a game, gossip, a place, or a holiday, to name just a few. Some folk songs, called ballads, tell long stories, while others are shorter, nonsense songs that make people laugh. Before radio and television, nearly everyone sang folk songs for entertainment, maybe at night in the kitchen after a long day's work or at celebrations with family and friends. By the 1920s, most people in England had a gramophone, an early type of record player, to listen to folk songs and other recorded music.
How do you think the gramophone might have changed folk music in England?