A folk song is a song that finds the widest possible publicity in and through a social group. Folk songs can be distinguished by musical, linguistic, social and historical characteristics. Common language, culture and traditions featuring them. The textual and musical appearance here has different regional peculiarities, but it is not always spatially allocate.

  • 2.1 music practice
  • 2.2 definition of art song
  • 2.3 Mutual Interference
  • 3.1 Romanticism and 20th century
  • 3.2 Song of Germany
  • 3.3 folk song researchers and Volksliedkompilatoren
  • 3.4 folk song collections


Johann Gottfried Herder coined in 1773 the term folk song and led him into the German language. In an exchange of letters on Ossian and the songs of ancient peoples, the term was first used by him in translatable based on Thomas Percy's popular song. The term folk song initially had another connotation than today. He described not only the lyrical genre whose characteristics are slight singability, coming from the people and anonymity, but meant primarily a then new, populist conception of lyric poetry in general, the deposed against the artificiality of Poetry in the Age of the Baroque and Rococo which was based on scholarly knowledge and refined education. Poetry is rather divine origin, according to Hamann, " the mother tongue of the human race ", which expressed itself through natural immediacy.

Folk songs deal mostly concrete, recurrent or everyday situations, events and moods of daily life. The poetry can be removed from the "usual and harsh reality" of joy and gladness, love and death, farewell and travel, foreigners and longing and show themselves in an idealized way and form, for example in the presentation idyllic images of nature or a tragic love between a prince and princess. Folk songs can fulfill various functions - in the form of work song ( working time) or stalls song ( work areas or professions characterizing ) or wedding song (about congratulating bride and groom or the " holy covenant " morally Indicative).

The numerous " species " reflect the content and thematic spectrum: Love, Wedding, drinking, child and Lullaby, work, dance, workers, students, soldiers, and sailors' songs; Furthermore, occupational, oriented to religious festivals songs, home, trips and hiking songs, based on time of day morning and evening songs, seasons, farewell songs, joking and mocking songs. The traditional song narrative content in a dramatic form of presentation is the folk ballad.

To be distinguished is the folk song of popular music.

Folk song as a folk music

Folk music is a collective term that does not have a specific form of music, but on a music practice within specific social contexts. Also, can hardly be said of identifiable musical styles within the folk music, but rather of Typiken because folk music is not liable discourse norms and no written record subject, such as the Western art music. For Johann Gottfried Herder of the literary- poetic aspect at the forefront of data collected by him songs and poems was partly known authors he often published without attribution in 1778 under the title " folk songs ". As a " folk singing " designated Georg Gottfried Gervinus reciting predominantly by lay people from the local population.

A unique, clear deferrable version of the terms " folk music / folk song" is difficult. Folk music is today a largely historical term and can only partially apply to the current musical practice. A rule of thumb is that folk music traditions there still are each most alive, where a certain distance to modern technological and economic structures there. These are and were predominantly rural areas. In Europe, concerns the regions that can be considered the periphery to the sophisticated, partly hochindustrialiserten heartland, such as parts of Eastern Europe. In Germany takes a certain special position in this regard, a South German and Alpine space.

After a historical definition of Hugo Riemann in 1882 is a folk song " a song that has arisen among the people (ie the poet and composer are not known), or one that has passed into the vernacular, or, finally, one that, folk standard ', that is simple and leichtfaßlich, composed in melody and harmony. " After Alfred Götze a folk song is a song that is " naturalized in the song of the layer of culture people in long memory moderate tradition and in its style so or was that who sings it, the individual right of an author in word and manner feels nothing. " a modern definition of Tom Can makers is: " folk songs are in the minds of members of a sociological group omnipresent media, are subject to the currents of tradition, culture epochs, power relations and thus never accept solid forms could take documentary or material ."

The currently widespread in many media concept of " folk music " applies basically only as a branch of the music industry and media world and shows unreal domestic and rural idylls on sound and image carriers, as well as on television. The so communicated by the media, choreographed and stylized performances are difficult to distinguish valid from other media-transmitted music genres. Starting points for distinctions would be more than that different audiences are targeted and various optical and show "sound -related " characteristics. Especially in the latter case, however, blur the boundaries between what is commonly considered as Folk Music, Pop and Rock. This is then the same for the mediated AV media " folk music " in other countries, for which the even younger market technical term "world music " was found - here the indifference already lies in the concept itself

Folk Song Title

A text unikate Music Tie in folk songs there is not. Since the 19th century, but one can point to a certain extent " settled " folksong strain which represents itself in the printed collections of songs. But even here there are difficulties. On the one hand in terms of the text, on the other hand - as a result - which title the song now bears. In addition, folk songs arise from the vernacular and thus are of course bound dialect. For its further spread by printed collections, they were then partly translated into High German, or other high-level languages ​​.

In collections of songs can often be seen that folk songs have no fixed title. So the song title is often simply formed from the beginning of the first verse, for example: " the funny days are coming now ." The song with the beginning of "I do not know what it means " it is, however, known with this first verse as the title as well as the Lorelei. So song collections have sometimes two tables of contents: one by song starts and one after titles. Song Title beginning and can cover, but need not do so.

Creator question

On the question of who brings the lyrics and melodies of folk songs, from an ethnological perspective, no definitive answer is possible. The fact that folk music was first passed through continuous vocal tradition, that is about hearing and imitation, it was in a continual process of variation and new creation. More important than the question of the origin appear as brown therefore the uptake and proliferation and thus the enculturation or embedding in a particular community concerned cultural expressions. In this case, an original tune very well be one of the music of the middle class, such as a catchy melody operetta. Béla Bartók has found something in his extensive research on the Hungarian folk song and speaks of imitation shoots, which was attributed to a wistful look up to culture higher social standing layers.


During the collection and research of folk songs following characteristics of the folk song were highlighted:

  • Its origin from the people influenced by characteristics such as a native language, origin and cultural identity ethnic group;
  • Thus connected the anonymity of its creators, the work term as the art song is inappropriate;
  • Its easy singability transported communities rather than isolation;
  • Its widespread use - created by first oral handing down - corresponds
  • Its variability. due to " Umsingen " regarding text and melody, such as shape and form for culturally or regionally typical forms

Music practice

In his inner musical features can be the folk song as a substrate or preserved original form of art song look. For the description of the above-mentioned substrate speaks initiation by the art music. For the term archetype is the fact that the folk song mostly in its tonal language and shaping a stage show that has already stood the test of art music at any given time. This can be seen for instance in

  • Scales small Tonvorrates ( pentatonic or less)
  • Especially in songs a small Ambitus
  • Simple melody line form, or even a
  • In metric / rhythmic respects free design. This is the folk song but as elocution expression of a social group and its characteristic for a time and social development stage lyrical and musical horizon and communication need.

Demarcation to the art song

The folk song can be to the effect delimit the art song that be a unique text - music - bond is not mandatory. Field research of ethnomusicologists as well as recordings of composers have proven that already belonged melodies emerge with various texts, which can also be thematically different. Likewise, the vocal habits are dependent on the situation or depending on the assets of the singer. Also in the sense of form, there is great variability; often different from what we know as through-composed art songs. The presentation of a song may already be on the immediately repeated singing strongly deviate from the " first version " within the meaning of the speaker remains the same song. On the other hand, even mere change of perspective in the narrative structure of a song ( - textes ), sometimes regarded with almost uniform musical material and musical shaping by the lecturer as different songs. A, Umsingen ', the vocal abilities of a singer / in accordance with, has often been observed ( Oktavversetzung when sound in height or depth is not reached).

Mutual Interference

Also, mutual interference, emigration can be identified. Within Europe, but can be paralleled in the music lying geographically separated peoples notice. This is especially true tonräumliche and formal design methods. In the folk music of Bartók research this phenomenon is a key result.

National and bound states claim ownership of any folk music, even with qualitative highlights or purity requirements, are therefore absurd. The below-mentioned migration of a melody by various regions and their Wandelungen from folk song about a string quartet set of Haydn and on to the German national anthem is an eloquent example of this.

History of Research

Already in the early days of German scientists employed with the collection of folk tales and songs. It is more difficult in the musical tradition. That historical folk music is available today, especially ethnomusicology is due to. This strand of musicology is still relatively young and found his first heyday at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Researchers such as Béla Vicar, Zoltán Kodály, Béla Bartók, Erich von Hornbostel, Constantin Brailoiu, to name but a few, were the first who were troubled with a scientific claim, music to the people directly, abzulauschen '. For this they were already too technical possibilities, such as the Edison Phonograph (after Thomas Alva Edison ), are available. But many composers produced records directly to the people. We know that, for example, by Modest Mussorgsky, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Nikolai Rimsky -Korsakov or Percy Grainger. What then is present is a musical text which can use its music practice only imagine yet.

From the earlier history can be very fragmentary close to the respective folk music. For obvious reasons, records are scarce: the people it has not made ​​and among scholars probably was little interest. One can assume, however, that V.A. In the Middle Ages the boundaries between folk music and "high culture ", which was essentially the church music, also were quite fluent. Thus, for example, probably always been a part of the ecclesiastical framework included music, so to speak " with out " arrested and then released - and especially vernacular - umtextiert, umgesungen. And also brazenly and verhöhnender way. So we can even also some if mostly "only" texts, preserved in sources such as the Lochamer songbook, the Jena songs handwriting or the Carmina Burana. However, as regards the practice of music, one can only draw conclusions from visual representations, especially on the use of instruments which were largely excluded from the liturgical music practice (especially wind instruments ). Justly famous is the travelogue of Giraldus Cambrensis (1147-1223), which tells of volksläufigen Musizierpraxen in Ireland and Wales.

Romantic and 20th century

Song of Germany

Sometimes the folk-song melodies go over into other genres of music. Thus, from the old Bohemian procession song Ubi est spes mea? ("Where is my hope ?") First in the 16th century, the chorale " My dear Lord, I thank thee! ". Over 200 years later formed Joseph Haydn in 1797 from this the melody of the Austrian imperial anthem " God Save Franz the Emperor ". Haydn himself solves this tune again from the text and makes it the center of the " Emperor Quartet " (Op. 76 No. 3). Furthermore, the melody in variants and variable message appears as a folk song in the Croatian area. Whether it's changing relations between Haydn and folk melody was here - and if so, what they were - is unclear. 1841 seals Hoffmann von Faller life of Haydn's melody, the verses of the song Germany. Since 1922, it is officially used as the German national anthem. Also the widely known German canon, " O how well I do in the evening " has evolved from the old Bohemian procession song out.

Folk song researchers and Volksliedkompilatoren

  • Anke Stephan Brand
  • Béla Bartók
  • Rolf Wilhelm Brednich
  • Friedrich Briegleb
  • Albert Brosch
  • Franz Wilhelm of Ditfurth
  • Ludwig Erk
  • Wastl Fanderl
  • Michael Fischer
  • Sepp Gregor
  • Erich von Hornbostel
  • Eckhard John
  • Ernst Klusen
  • Zoltán Kodály
  • Rochus Freiherr von Liliencron
  • Waltraud Linder- Beroud
  • John Meier
  • Dimitrija and Konstantin Miladinov
  • Heinrich Möller
  • Christian Nützel
  • Tobias Reiser
  • Konrad disc Erling
  • Wolfgang Steinitz
  • Horst Steinmetz
  • Wolfgang Suppan
  • Béla Vicar
  • Alfred Voelkel
  • Tobis Widmaier
  • Walter Wiora
  • Zach Erwin Meier
  • Viktor Zack

Folk song collections

With Herder also the so-called " second life " of the folk song, which is now written in folk song collections and has been codified began. This mainly texts without musical notation reproducing collections can va use literary and sociological interests, but just as valid as a source of folk care. The first folk song collections corresponded to the romantic idealization. Only in the 20th century was begun to create the collection of folk songs on the basis of scientific criteria. An interesting special case offer hand- written song recordings. An analysis of 65 manuscripts from the 19th century ( collection John Meier, German Folk Song Archive Freiburg ) illustrates various features of songs and song collections. The song handwriting is a " language structure, which can take different, each associated with certain cultural functions expression levels. " It is a testament to the Semioralität on which can be indicated reception processes of cultural values ​​and norms. The manuscripts date from Alsace and Lorraine, and are divided into three types. The manuscript of François Juving of 1848, for example, assign the personal type. Can pursue life and life of the author on his song selection. Also, problems, disappointments and hopes or problem solving are visible on the contents of the selected songs, as in the handwriting of Marie fig Spann (1867 ). Such records have the function of a soliloquy and identity work in the deal writers and writers with the roles to be fulfilled and norms of behavior. The communicative type, however, was created specifically for, or in interpersonal contact. The song records reflect the socialization ways of their authors and are characterized by creative text modifications were communicated by their own opinions. Can to the songs of Franz Lang of 1830 be life from bachelor to father of a family and pursue the atypical selection of Henriette Steiner ( 1900-1918 ) documented in the context of the historical situation the outbreak of a woman from the then customary role behavior. The anonymous type after all, is to be regarded as a section of his time recognized and deemed desirable song treasure, there are collections that document the Civil education of their authors. The repertoire therefore corresponds to that of time available printed song collections. It is a passive reception song, while the first two types of document an active song appropriation. How the analyzes of the lyric modifications of these two types of handwriting show collective knowledge is reflected: representations of history are analyzed, prejudices are broken down, tied ideological values ​​and roofed imparted in the songs of social behavior and ways of thinking.

German folk songs collected since 1914, the German folk song archive at the University of Freiburg. The Austrian Volksliedwerk is responsible for collecting research and dissemination of folk songs since 1904.

The folk song researcher Ernst Klusen collected Lower Rhine folk songs. Since 1949, collected Sepp Gregor European and non-European songs from countries where European languages ​​are spoken. After his death, this task was assigned to the company Ringing bridge eV in Bonn.

Source collections

  • Johann Gottfried Herder: voices of the peoples of songs. 1778 f ( text collection ), reprint: Reclam, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-15-001371-2.
  • Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano 's Des Knaben Wunderhorn. 1806-1808 ( text collection ). Reprint: Albatros, 2008; ISBN 978-3-491-96218-7
  • Frederick Leonard of Soltau: One hundred German historical folk songs. Leipzig 1836.
  • Ludwig Uhland: Old high and low German folk songs. 1844 ( text collection ).
  • Ludwig Erk, Franz Magnus Böhme: German songs Hort; . Leipzig 1893/94.
  • Béla Bartók: The Hungarian folk song. ed. D. Dille: ethnomusicological writings facsimile reprints. Mainz 1965.
  • J. Gregor, F. Klaus Meier (ed. ): European songs in the original languages ​​. Volume 1, Berlin 1966.
  • The Zupfgeigenhansl. . Leipzig 1913 reprint: 1982, ISBN 3-7957-4002-9.
  • Ernst Klusen: The Windmill. Lower Rhenish folk songs. Bad Godesberg in 1955.
  • Hein and Oss Kröher: These are our songs - a songbook. Books Gutenberg, 1977, ISBN 3-7632-2136-0.
  • Zupfgeigenhansel: There want a farmer to get up early. 222 folk songs. Published and edited by Erich Zupfgeigenhansel tasting cup and Thomas Friz, plans 1978.
  • Bernd Pachnike (ed. ): All my thoughts - German folk songs. Leipzig 1980, ISBN 3-596-22963-4.
  • Wolfgang Steinitz: German folk songs democratic character of 6 centuries. 2 vols, Berlin 1953, 1956.