The author does it by examining each and every quality given to folk music from the past till now, by referencing other scholars’ works and presenting his own approaches and views of folk music by bringing together every far-fetched and simple idea. Bohlman never goes on to define what he actually means by folk music, nor does he give his own definition he thinks would be best suited. Bohlman does lead off with chapters on folk music origins, oral tradition, and classification.
Questions of identity of folk music are very close to Bohlman though – a chapter just based on how music performers assert, dispose, and combine regional boundaries in this vast planet of multitude of different identity settings. He illustrated with many specific and eye-opening musical examples from his study and fieldwork in this book. Some chapters also depicted the role of the individual musician in spreading and educating people on folk music as compared to the vast spread and existence of pop music in Western cultures.
He describes why folk music should flourish now in the present and how to mix oral transmission properly with this process.
He also emphasized on valuable “cannons” of folk music – ‘The folk music canon consists of those pieces and forms of musical behavior constantly shaped by a society to express its cultural particularity and the characteristics that distinguish it as a social entity,’ just to illustrate one to show his credibility on the knowledge and importance of folk music. These ‘canons’ give glimpses into the situations and processes they describe and are useful for learning about the varied life of modern folk music.
Bohlman’s final chapter, ‘Folk Music in the Modern World,’ offers the Middle Eastern perspective, with its vast varied people, music, and processes, like a metaphor for the variety of folk music existing currently in the modern world. It was relieving to learn that older definitions of folk music that many would currently revise or discard are alive in the hands of many performers and audiences fueling modern folk music revival.
The book is highly informative and unbiased. Surely, it wouldn’t agree with everyone’s views. I do expect to read this book often when I want to learn about music of different regions, due to its credible citations and due to its plethora of ideas on folk music. I would think it is a significant piece of literature in contribution to the study of folk music and many should give it a read. I found this book to be highly influential and expressive. It gave me views on folk music that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. I learned a great deal on how folk music came to be and how it spread throughout separate regions and how it influences other types of music and learning. This book can be transferred across various music disciplines as well. It has helped me to interpret different kinds of music that I learn to play on piano and how different connotations and styles can be used for that one song.
Folk music also enhances music learning in myriad of ways according to the book and learning multiple types of folk music expands your music vocabulary and knowledge in such a way that sometimes it can even be used as a fusion element to add a different style and your own twist to certain songs. I enjoyed reading this book and learning about various cultural sounds cross-compared, It has taught me how versatile sound and music really is! The inspiration for music can come from anywhere, and different combinations of musical sounds can be used to form many kinds of folk music (each specific to their own of course). Each type of folk music also teaches one about its region and culture. I learned a great deal of Iranian culture just by reading this book.
It gave me information on Iranian traditions, their outlook on life, their festivals and celebrations and what they celebrate music for in their lives. It was so different from what I know about western or Indian music. Indian music is known quite well known for its folk and traditional music and how it describes and celebrates the various flavors of India. It is not uncommon to see the slow and gradual decline of folk music with the advent of new technology in industrialized places. But maintaining the traditional folk music specific to one region only makes it that much more vital and important, because it is that one sound that helps that region retain their originality and the way they represent themselves distinct from any other region!