What is every country's representative folk song?
#1
Not sure whether this might be best placed on another section of the forum but here goes.
I have been reading up the definition of folk music on wikipedia and would be interested to know what one folk song would members think worthy of being truly representative of each country of the world?
This question might cause one to define/redefine what essentials make up a folk song in the first place!
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#2
Well, for the US, I think the obvious, and I would guess most mentioned would be "This Land is Your Land." But that answer to me is rather banal, so I am nominating "American Pie" by Don McClean.

I think that a folk song is basically a song that (1.) "everyone knows," that has become so much a part of our collective psyche that the original singer/writer has been forgotten and the song is sort of assumed to "always have been there." Added to that is the idea (2.) that the song somehow embodies a collective feeling of hope, a common idealism, or some other universal feeling, be it uplifting and positive, or not (see "American Pie"). And/or (3.) includes a message of patriotism and pride on one's homeland or tribe (see "This Land is Your Land.")

With all that in mind, I think that the canon of folk songs of the future will also include songs like "The Sound of Silence" and "All you Need is Love."

Interesting topic. I'm interested in the offerings from other countries.
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#3
the Netherlands:

Boudewijn de Groot - Avond
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI5fsTZydW8

People's choice for years on end. It has no political meaning, just a sort of love song and the passing of things.
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#4
(14-04-2019, 06:09 PM)jozz Wrote: the Netherlands:

Boudewijn de Groot - Avond
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI5fsTZydW8

People's choice for years on end. It has no political meaning, just a sort of love song and the passing of things.

Jozz,

Well, maybe a bit off the mark, but here is Leylim Ley, a Turkish song sung by Glykeria, a renowned Greek singer. Probably the most representative song of the handful of Greeks who still live in Turkey. They shared the same music before the infamous population exchanges of 1923. 

Don't think it has any political undertones these days, just serves to illustrate that many Greeks and Turks share a common history. There are estimated to be only about 2000 Greeks still living in Istanbul, but there were considerably more than that when the recording was made. Found a version with an accordion in it (if and when you can hear it).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvd4LjfJgUk
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#5
Hi Phil,

I know some people think that "The Wild Rover" is an Irish song, but it is most certainly English. Everywhere I play it, people seem to know the words.

"The Greenland Whaler" is less well known, but still popular in some folk clubs. "Cushy Butterfield" is a lively little folk song, but heard mostly in North East England.

It is doubtful if any one folk song could truly represent a nation, as regions vary so much.

I don't imagine my contribution will be of much help, but it may just contribute something to the debate.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#6
I agree with Stephens ''it is doubtful if any one folk song could be truly representative etc etc.

It also occurs to me that we may be taking about both songs and tunes ( with no words) which opens a wider debate.

in the folk 'tune' world winster gallop is /may be a widely played 'English' folk tune and is certainly widely used by ceilidh bands and morris musicians.- but whether its representative of a nation or anything else is questionable.

As an English player of Scottish music Scotland the Brave ( it dows have words) and Cock of the north ( aunty mary had a canary) comes to mind but may be well off the mark.

'Folk' music has a very wide spectrum and is not in any way like 'national anthems' . Tunes crop up in different countries more or less the same but with different names one example being the Irish tune ''rattling bog'' very like and based on the song 'the bog down in the valley oh' There is an English version, a canadian version and a French Breton version these being the result of emigration though this series of countries.

Also the same tune can crop up with different words.

All of which probably adds very little if anything to this debate!

george
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#7
(14-04-2019, 05:26 PM)Tom Wrote: Well, for the US, I think the obvious, and I would guess most mentioned would be "This Land is Your Land."  But that answer to me is rather banal, so I am nominating  "American Pie" by Don McClean.  

I think that a folk song is basically a song that (1.) "everyone knows," that has become so much a part of our collective psyche that the original singer/writer has been forgotten and the song is sort of assumed to "always have been there."  Added to that is the idea  (2.) that the song somehow embodies a collective feeling of hope, a common idealism, or some other universal feeling, be it uplifting and positive, or not (see "American Pie").  And/or (3.) includes a message of patriotism and pride on one's homeland or tribe (see "This Land is Your Land.")

With all that in mind, I think that the canon of folk songs of the future will also include songs like "The Sound of Silence" and "All you Need is Love."

Interesting topic.  I'm interested in the offerings from other countries.
Hey Tom. Sometimes obvious is best. This Land is Your Land is a great song. Personally, I think any song that has the line "Took the Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry", is in the hall of bad lyrics along with America's "for there ain't no one for to give me no pain."  IMHO Undecided
We Shall Overcome or Shenandoah aren't bad choices, either.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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#8
The anthems of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and that of the Republic of Ireland are all relative to my own upbringing.

The unofficial Scottish anthems "Flower of Scotland" and "Scotland the Brave", are IMHO both spoiled by being undisguised rants directed at our English neighbours, with some pretty oppressive lyrics.

The Northern Irish anthem "Londonderry Air" unfortunately contains the word "London", so we just all call it "Danny Boy", to avoid offending residents of Northern Ireland who are republicans. They don't like being reminded of the days when their country was under foreign control and subsequently partitioned.

   

The anthem of the Irish Republic "Amhrán na bhFiann’ ", translated as "Soldiers are We" is a direct reference to the Irish fight against the English for their independence. It is played in Northern Ireland to stir up religious hatred against Protestants, and if played in the west of Scotland would be likely to start a religious riot. 

So there are 4 representations of what are not exactly "folk songs", but which overwhelm any effort to promote an innocent catchy tune as a national emblem of pride in either Scotland or any part of Ireland.

All of those tunes are played worldwide, largely by people who are keen to perpetuate their Scottish or Irish roots, usually in all innocence of their political and religious connotations directed at England.

The answer to which folk tune was the most representative of either country is beyond my knowledge, as it is for the vast majority of the others who live here.

If you go to a folk club here in the Scottish borders be sure to take a field dressing with you, as the number of English who were slaughtered in the local folklore probably exceeds the current population of New York. Yet cross over the border and they're singing about beautiful valleys, flowers, and pretty things. Can't remember the names of any of the tunes though, as they're not gory enough!  

You could maybe ask the UK government for advice on what is the most popular English folk song, but it might take 100 years or so for them to decide! (if you're lucky!)
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#9
France is peculiar in that many areas do not seem to have a folky repertoire, or rather, it has become lost over time.  I have discussed this with French musical people and they say that it may be due to France being "unified" by Napoleon.  French became the national language - use of other languages such as Breton, Norman etc were supressed to the point of being considered illegal. French nationalism was promoted to the detriment of regional customs, music etc.  Some areas/regions have kept their original dialect/language going, like Breton, Occitan, Basque - Alsace is peculiar in that it has basculed back and forth between Germany and France.

The Bretons are very keen on their folk music as no doubt are the Basques and those who live in the south-west.  Perhaps Paris has kept "French" traditional music going ?  I don't know.

So, John, I'm not sure I have any idea of what the French would consider to be their most popular folk song.  They would be in complete agreement.  After all, as de Gaulle is reported to have said "How do you govern a country which has 246 different varieties of cheese ?"
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#10
Eddy Yates said:

"Personally, I think any song that has the line "Took the Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry", is in the hall of bad lyrics along with America's "for there ain't no one for to give me no pain."

Well, you have a valid point there Eddy! "Bad lyrics" maybe, but so much more interesting than "This Land." I'll go with your suggestion of "Shenandoah."
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#11
I'd nominate 'Greensleeves' for England - everybody knows it, and it's a bit whiny and miserable, which is quite typically English.

Germany doesn't have one single folk song, in my opinion, because the regional differences are much stronger. Hamburg, for example, would have a sea shanty for its folk anthem, whereas Bavaria might well be "In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus" i.e. all about beer.
<URL url="http://jubjubceilidhband.co.uk/">The JubJub Ceilidh Band</URL> and <URL url="http://www.kirstenbaron.co.uk/">Me</URL>
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#12
(15-04-2019, 01:36 PM)Corsaire Wrote: France is peculiar in that many areas do not seem to have a folky repertoire, or rather, it has become lost over time.  I have discussed this with French musical people and they say that it may be due to France being "unified" by Napoleon.  French became the national language - use of other languages such as Breton, Norman etc were supressed to the point of being considered illegal. French nationalism was promoted to the detriment of regional customs, music etc.  Some areas/regions have kept their original dialect/language going, like Breton, Occitan, Basque - Alsace is peculiar in that it has basculed back and forth between Germany and France.

The Bretons are very keen on their folk music as no doubt are the Basques and those who live in the south-west.  Perhaps Paris has kept "French" traditional music going ?  I don't know.

So, John, I'm not sure I have any idea of what the French would consider to be their most popular folk song.  They would be in complete agreement.  After all, as de Gaulle is reported to have said "How do you govern a country which has 246 different varieties of cheese ?"
Sally,

The Germans allow people around the area of Flensborg/Flensburg to be educated in either Danish or German schools, and there is no "bar" to use of the Danish language. I do believe that German is required to be taught as a secondary language, but there isn't a lot of red tape. 

First time I was in Brittany I was very keen to hear Breton being spoken. When I actually heard it (on the radio) I couldn't tell if they were speaking French or Breton, as a lot of the sounds were identical. When you consider that here in Scotland Gaelic sounds nothing like English and native Gaelic speakers have a distinct English accent when they speak in that tongue, I felt that the Bretons had been shortchanged somehow. 

From what I've heard of the French version of Catalan, there is also no mistaking that the speaker is French. Did Napoleon maybe decree that regional languages had to be spoken with a "standard" French pronunciation, as that's what it sounds like to we foreigners. Alsatian does have a German ring to it, but even Ch'ti like De Gaulle, so proud of their "separate" status, all tend to sound as though they are just practising another language with strong French accents. 

Even Basques have Spanish or French sounding accents depending on which side of the border they live. Whilst that is not in itself unusual, the oldies chastise the kids for sounding too French or Spanish. 

I would say that these days we're all gradually moving towards less distinctive regional speech, and the minority languages are struggling to maintain a foothold. 

I haven't lived in the Glasgow area for 45 years. Most older people here in the Borders can identify me as a "west coaster", but the youngsters often haven't a clue where I'm from. They know I'm not local, but that's about the size of it. The Hawick accent is basically Scottish with a smattering of northern English words, but these days the kids are deliberately trying to sound as though they are big city Glasgow or Edinburgh types, and the "alien" north of England words are dying out. 

"Ee ken, mye gairden yince haid thry trys, bit mah fither hoyed yin doon, so oor jist left wi' the tway". If you could say that perfectly they knew you were a local. Personally, I never bothered, same as the local youngsters. "Fowk these dyes jist caw spike guid Inglish" (as they say in Hawick).
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#13
(15-04-2019, 04:31 AM)Eddy Yates Wrote:
(14-04-2019, 05:26 PM)Tom Wrote: Well, for the US, I think the obvious, and I would guess most mentioned would be "This Land is Your Land."  But that answer to me is rather banal, so I am nominating  "American Pie" by Don McClean.  

I think that a folk song is basically a song that (1.) "everyone knows," that has become so much a part of our collective psyche that the original singer/writer has been forgotten and the song is sort of assumed to "always have been there."  Added to that is the idea  (2.) that the song somehow embodies a collective feeling of hope, a common idealism, or some other universal feeling, be it uplifting and positive, or not (see "American Pie").  And/or (3.) includes a message of patriotism and pride on one's homeland or tribe (see "This Land is Your Land.")
Hey Tom. Sometimes obvious is best. This Land is Your Land is a great song. [...]
We Shall Overcome or Shenandoah aren't bad choices, either.

"This Land" is a good choice, but I don't know... it's just so recent. I feel like any official US folk song should be older than that. Then again, we are a relatively new country. "If I had a Hammer" would be another good one of similar vintage.

"We Shall Overcome" is another fine candidate, Eddy. I'm not sure if kids these days know "Shenandoah" anymore though.

Then there's "Yankee Doodle", "Oh, Susanna", "She'll Be Comin' Around the Mountain", and all that stuff. Can't forget "Kumbaya" either.

No wait... I've got it. This is the correct answer: "Home on the Range"

(14-04-2019, 05:26 PM)Tom Wrote: With all that in mind, I think that the canon of folk songs of the future will also include songs like "The Sound of Silence" and "All you Need is Love."

Not to mention "Sweet Caroline" and "Don't Stop Believin'" Cool
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#14
Trying to be helpful to our American Cousins, may I suggest a folk song that our folk group performed in the early sixties as a possible candidate?

We often sang "The Wreck Of The Old 97", which I would play on Clarinet with Guitar and Vocal accompaniment.

I confess that I do not really understand the nuances which make one song "folk" and another "country", but I have always considered the Old 97 to be a folk song.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#15
Good fun, compadres.
I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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#16
A lot of the American folk songs are what we learned in the UK as children.  If you go back far enough, I imagine US folk music will have its roots in songs the immigrants brought with them - and we know how popular Irish music is !

John - I didn't know about Flensburg, and I lived in Hamburg for 3 years !  The local dialect, Plattdeutsch, is till spoken in northern Germany particularly in coastal areas/ports.  It has some similarities to Dutch and is pretty incomprehensible to most Germans.  

There is a popular "folk" sea song in France which didn't originate here (Santianna) but was translated into French and made popular by Hugues Aufray in the 60s.  It's in most sea chanty singers' repertoire and has been translated into Dutch and German and no doubt other languages.

Germany does have traditional folk music, but much seems to have become lost over the years, not helped by the Hitler régime.  As said, a lot of the songs are regional rather than national.  I remember folk groups in Germany in the early 70s trying to revive the songs.
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#17
Many "representative" folksongs in Belgium, depending on where you are from. But "Ik wil deze nacht in de straten verdwalen" (Tonight I want to get lost in the streets) by Wannes van de Velde is a nice song that has originally been accompanied by just an accordion. (If anyone is interested I have an arrangement for accordion ensemble.)
Another famous Belgian folk song is "Op de purperen hei" (on the purple heather) by Armand Preud'homme (composed in 1941). This song has an alternative text in the Netherlands, called "Ni kniezen ni zeuren" (no moping no whining).
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#18
I am not at all certain that there is any one folk song/tune that defines an entire country. Perhaps one may find a song/tune that defines a certain region of a country but not the entire country, unless you want to include national anthems as "folk" which somehow doesn't seem quite right.

Here is the USA, the original inhabitants which we call Native Americans or American Indians, certainly have songs or chants but those would be unfamiliar to most non Native Americans. Here, we are a blend of nationalities and I think that most of them do have some sort of ethnic song/tune that would identify them, at least to themselves.

If I had to pick one song that every American would know, it might be "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" a 1908 Tin Pan Alley song by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, Jr which has become the unofficial anthem of North American baseball, but even that may not be known by all Americans.
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
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#19
Stephen said:

"We often sang "The Wreck Of The Old 97", which I would play on Clarinet with Guitar and Vocal accompaniment."

I have heard this song, but I have never played it. It's a good song, but I confess I know none if the words and suspect most Americans won't either. I think there is a lot of overlap between folk and country. I suspect that if you could list the top 10 songs played now at weddings you will find the folk songs of the future.
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#20
(16-04-2019, 02:05 PM)Tom Wrote: Stephen said:

"We often sang "The Wreck Of The Old 97", which I would play on Clarinet with Guitar and Vocal accompaniment."

I have heard this song, but I have never played it.  It's a good song, but I confess I know none if the words and suspect most Americans won't either.  I think there is a lot of overlap between folk and country.  I suspect that if you could list the top 10 songs played now at weddings you will find the folk songs of the future.

One amusing thing that is possibly just taken for granted, is that the lyrics of most English language "pop" songs tend to be sung in a standard "American" accent, whether the singer is from Norway or New Zealand. 

Whilst there is no doubt that a lot of North American folk music evolved from traditional music taken there by immigrants, the trend was reversed towards the middle of the 20th century, when the rest of the world took to the music that had been created there.

In our "Irish" part of Scotland, American Country and Western largely suppresses the more "normal" Scottish music found elsewhere in the country. Our house was full of my father's records of Box Car Willie, Slim Whitman, etc, and we all learned to play "cowboy" music on the harmonica. 

In case there are doubters among you, just imagine a beautiful sunset across the prairies of West Central Scotland,  where the red slag heaps of West Lothian make their subtle transition to all the beautiful shimmering shades of the black coal "bings" in the sweeping plains of North Lanarkshire. Sadly the intense red skies have gone forever, since most of the big steel works have closed down. 

Kilts? Accordions? Bagpipes? You must be joking.

To those of you North Americans who are of "Scotch-Irish" descent, this is actually where your folk music originated. The Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow, Scotland! You stole our music so we stole some back!:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vuQZ6gviq8

Occasionally cowboys from other parts of Scotland are invited along. This guy was from "Peh City" (Dundee), but sadly died a few years ago. The clue that he may not be a true Scot (like many of us) is in his name, Michael Marra. He was a very successful folk singer in Scotland, but maybe this was his day off. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj-azlKk8Ng

Thought y'all might want to hear an American tune sung by a guy with a Dundee accent.
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