Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Gloria. Gloria Wonders, “What is folk music?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Gloria!

Do you have a favorite type of music? Maybe you like dancing to a snappy beat. Or is rock-and-roll more your style? Maybe you’d rather hear modern rap and hip-hop music.

Do we have any Wonder Friends out there who enjoy folk music? What images do those words bring up for you? Do you think of acoustic guitars? Maybe soft, quiet music that adults in your life enjoy? In reality, folk music is so much more than that!

Folk music can refer to two types of music. The first is traditional types of music that have been around as long as music itself. The second is a modern notion of folk music that arose during the 1960s in the United States. 

Traditional folk music is often old music by unknown songwriters. Usually, this folk music has been passed down for generations. Some describe it as the music of the common people. It tells stories in a way anyone can understand. Traditional folk music bonds people together. It has more to do with culture and history than entertainment.

The 1960s brought the United States a folk music revival. A new style of folk music developed. This style is sometimes called contemporary folk music. Contemporary folk music is made by acoustic instruments and meaningful lyrics. Often, these songs reflect the social changes taking place at the time they’re written.

Contemporary folk music is a more recent development from the United States. But traditional folk music can be found all over the world. Just about every society has its own customs and traditions expressed in the form of folk art. That includes folk music, folk dance, and folk tales. Folk art is passed down through the generations. And it varies widely from country to country. That means folk music from one country might sound completely different from folk music from another country.

That’s one of the things that make folk music so interesting to many people. No all of it sounds the same! Spend some time listening to traditional folk music from a few different cultures. Then, check out contemporary folk music, too. You never know—you may find your new favorite music style!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is super cool and really, really long!