American folk music has provided a narrative thread to the fiber of the nation since its earliest days. Folk music scholar Norm Cohen presents a thorough exploration of the many ways in which folk music genres and subgenres have arisen in different regions of America. Chapters on folk song types, folk instrumentation, and the urban folk revival set further context to the discussion, and an itemized summary of noted folksong collections serves as an additional tool for both general readers and folk music scholars.
American folk music has provided a narrative thread to the fiber of the nation since its earliest days. Forms ranging from New England sea chanteys to Pennsylvania Dutch worksongs helped shape life in the Northeast. Appalachian ballads evolved in the South, as did slave spirituals that served as codes for the Underground Railroad. Folk ballads on lumbering and mining grew in the Midwest and Northwest, while cowboy ballads emerged across the Great Plains and the West, and railroad songs accompanied expansion along the American frontier. Folk music scholar Norm Cohen presents a thorough exploration of the many ways in which folk music genres and subgenres have arisen in different regions of America. Chapters on folk song types, folk instrumentation, and the urban folk revival set further context to the discussion, and an itemized summary of noted folksong collections serves as an additional tool for both general readers and folk music scholars.
The Greenwood Guide to American Roots Music series includes volumes on musical genres that have pervaded American culture. Each volume explores the different ways that selected genres, such as folk music, have evolved naturally in different regions and scenes thoughout the nation.
“Aiming to present an overview of the field of American folk music that stresses breadth rather than depth, Cohen offers considerable information not easily found elsewhere, particularly about the differences in musical traditions of various regions and ethnic groups. In so doing he contributes significantly to the discussion Kip Lornell began….Highly recommended. All collections; all levels.” – Choice
“This is an attractively presented and enthusiastically written work which essentially serves as an introduction to the diversity of regional styles in American folk music. Beginning with an explanation of the origins, styles and instrumentation of folk music, the author then proceeds to discuess American folk music region by region, concluding with a chapter on folk music in urban settings. The book is less a study than a guide to folk music for students and enthusiasts….[f]or its beautiful illustrations; its suggestions for further reading, listening and viewing; its helpful appendices and song lyrics; and, above all, the obvious enthusiasm of Norm Cohen for his subject, this book is worth obtaining (possibly alongside its companion volumes) for library shelves.” – Journal of American Studies
“The book will appeal to the general reader with an interest in American folk music, as well as to the secondary school student who need to learn more about the subject.” – Reference Reviews
“Cohen is a deft folklorist who knows the traditional academic literature, but he is also most interested in such commercial products assongsters, sheet music, and recordings, all products of the industrial age, with which folklorists might quibble. He has always made a strong case for connecting the past and the present as part of the country’s folk music legacy, and his current exploration is a mature defense of this approach. Indeed, it will be of immense value not just tonewcomers to the topic, but also to scholars who will continue to study Cohen’s wide range of topics….Cohen has compiled a most valuable, detailed study of the topic, a wonderful roadmap.” – Popular Music and Society
“Cohen introduces this overview of American folk music by discussing regional differences, the influence of immigration and migration, and the folk song’s origins, function, and meaning within the community.” – Reference & Research Book News
“Folk Music: A Regional Exploration covers all aspects of American folk traditions, from differing styles ranging from blues ballads to hollers and erotic songs, to instruments, regional differences in folk music, and the evolution of songs. A thorough exploration of major and minor genres and sub-genres keeps Folk Music an in-depth study worthy of college-level classroom attention for any American music history course.” – MBR Bookwatch
About the Author
Norm Cohen is the author of Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong (1981) and Traditional Anglo-American Folk Music: An Annotated Discography of Published Recordings (1994). He has edited and/or annotated two dozen albums, and written extensively on various aspects of folk, country, and popular music. He is a retired chemist and currently teaches physical science in Portland, Oregon.