The true definition of folk music is a bit cloudy; everyone seems to have their own interpretation of what it represents. For me, when I thin of folk music, my mind usually conjures up sounds and images of ancient Pagan or Celtic songs and rituals, with a bit of country thrown in. I expect the instruments to be acoustic, mostly woodwind with eerie harmonics that make me think of a blustery night in the forest under a full moon. This of course is just my imagination running away with me, and a rather narrow view of the genre.
The official definition of traditional folk music is that it is composed by the unknown lower-classes, and passed on through word of mouth, rather than being written down. It is associated with folklore, superstition, country dancing, and the uncultured. This is a rather derogatory description considering how beautiful and enchanting folk music can be.
Image from en.wikipedia.org
In the twentieth century, however, a man called Cecil Sharp founded a folk revival after taking an interest in a group of morris dancers. He started a dance club, published three volumes on the subject, then went on to write song books for teachers and students. In 1911 Sharp founded the English Folk Dance Society, which promoted the traditional dances through workshops. This later merged with the Folk Song Society in 1932 to form the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).
Image from gibbandlucas.tumblr.com
Today the organisation work to keep folk traditions alive by promoting modern and traditional singers, bands, and dancers. Many of their members perform at Cecil Sharp House on Regent's Park Road in London. For example, David Glibb & Elly Lucas will be playing on the 16th January at 7.30pm. The BBC Folk Award nominees rework folk music with a contemporary style; their gig marks the opening of Elly's photographic exhibition, Folktography: A decon/reconstruction, which is also at Cecil Sharp House.
All these events cost between £5-£16, but there is also a free Access all Areas show on the 15th February from 2.30pm. It celebrates the completion of Cecil Sharp House's new lift installation. It features the Wolk dance company, Folk in Motion, who will perform a fusion of folk and street dance especially choreographed for wheelchair users.