Contemporary Folk Music

About our Project

How did we choose our topic?

When we were told to chose a topic to research we had actually started with different topics. This semester has been the song lyrics semester. As a group we knew we wanted to investigate a musical topic. Originally, I (Taylor) was curious about wartime songs, a lot of which are folk songs, and their themes. Interestingly, the week before we had to decide on a project topic Mako had been listening to some Japanese folk songs with her parents.

When there was a folk song revival in the United States there was a parallel movement in Japan, according to her parents. It lead us to seek out whether or not something similar happened in other countries. Since Mako also speaks Italian and knew a few Italian folk songs, we decided to look at Italy as well. I (Taylor) speak Spanish as well so there we had our languages: English, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish.

Link to Wikipedia

What is our focus?

For our project, we decided to focus on the period of the second folk revival from around the 1960s on where there were large musical, political, social, and counterculture changes. We looked at songs from US artists such as Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, etc. and compared the folk revival in the US and other English speaking countries to parallels in the other countries and languages we worked with, which includes Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

We were interested in seeing the global trend in contemporary folk music by comparing and contrasting the themes that are present in the songs. The three themes we chose to focus on were political, regional, and social themes. Within the song lyrics we looked at nouns and marked up subthemes if there were any referenced by the nouns, and related those subthemes that were present to the overarching themes of the songs.

Why did we choose this topic?

As linguistic majors we knew we wanted to have a topic that would be of interest to linguists. We believe that our research falls within sociolinguistics and we are hoping that the results of our research show some implications of similarities in cross-cultural social states within the timeframe of 1960s to the present.

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