Defined as any music transmitted orally, or without a known composer, folk is one of the oldest genres of music prevalent today. Folk has played an important role in communities, uniting people in a shared love of music. The Adirondacks is no exception. Since the 19th century, when pioneers began to settle in earnest the land that would become the Park, folk music has permeated the Adirondacks. To explore the growth of Adirondack Folk through the years, visit our Timeline.
Using videos and interviews, we have prepared a way to immerse yourself in the culture of Folk Music Then and Folk Music Now. Here, you can not only watch this site's authors perform and discuss musical samples from the 19th and early 20th century, but you can get acquainted with the Adirondack Bluegrass League, one of the best examples of popular folk in the park today.
Folk music permeated many aspects of Adirondack culture, from the job site of a hardworking lumberjack to community social events. Folk music lends itself especially to the Adirondack lifestyle because many settlers didn't have the time to cultivate a high level of musical theory knowledge. Most Adirondack folk musicians were amateurs for whom music was an escape, not an occupation. Visit Folk Theory to learn more about the musicality of this music genre.
Folk songs were passed orally from person to person, without the aid of sheet music. Instead of a concert hall, the venue for Adirondack folk was the family living room, or a logging site, or a community center. Many Adirondackers played a stringed instrument or sang along. To meet some of the main players in Adirondack Folk, then and now, check out Figures in Folk.
This site serves as a practical guide to all things Folk in the Adirondacks. We hope you enjoy your exploration, and come away with a deeper appreciation for folk music and its role in the park.