How Do You Learn Folk Songs?


Quick Answer

To learn folk songs, research folk song repertoire and listen to folk singers and recordings of folk music. Online archives and general websites devoted to folk singers and folk song literature such as FolkAlley.com and WoodyGuthrie.org are useful as learning tools.

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Full Answer

FolkAlley.com is one place to begin learning folk songs. FolkAlley.com streams live folk music around the clock. The website is also a source of all things folk music, including history, past and present folk singers, news, techniques for budding folk musicians and folk song repertoire.

The Woody Guthrie website is another place to begin learning folk songs. Guthrie, a giant of American folk music, wrote more than 100 songs that have since become folk standards, such as "This Land Is Your Land." WoodyGuthrie.org contains a library of lyrics for every song Guthrie sang and recordings of many of the songs as well.

The American Folklife Center contains collections of folk songs in its various archives. One such collection is the Robert Winslow Gordon collection, which encompasses repertoire that Winslow, a folklorist, researched during his field work in the early 1920s. Some of the music that Winslow researched survives in the form of sheet music and free recordings, and some of the free recordings are available on the American Folklife Center website.

The Missouri State University Max Hunter Folk Song collection comprises nearly 1,600 Ozarks folk songs that Hunter recorded between 1956 and 1976. The collection includes sheet music and corresponding sound recordings.

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