JOMC 50 Student's Research 
Folklore in Appalachian Music 
guitar banjo

Synopsis:  Many variations of folklore, including crafts, folk tales and music can be found throughout the Southern Appalachian mountains. Much of this folklore can be traced to the homelands of the many immigrants that moved to the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries, while some originated in the Appalachian region itself. I chose this topic because after living In Boone, N.C. for two years I was exposed to Appalachian music and folklore on a regular basis. Something with such a long history that is still very alive in some rural areas fascinates me. Much of the music today was influenced by Appalachian music, so tracing the roots have been quite interesting. The Web has produced several helpful sites for information, although much of folklore research involves getting out there and talking to people. The web is especially helpful in connecting scholars of folklore so that research can be shared and evaluated. Although this research does touch on some aspects of Appalachian folklore, it is not as comprehensive as it could be. Keep this web page in mind, as I will be updating it as my research uncovers new things! 


World Wide Web Sources  computer graphic

Appalachian Music and Arts
www.whistlepig.com

Various links to different aspects of Appalachian culture. In regards to music in specific, the site detail music festivals and event, traditional Appalachian instruments such as dulcimers and guitars. The music page also has reference to the historical folk traditions of Appalachian music, which would be very helpful for my topic. Other links focus upon traditional craft and other artifacts of cultural relevance.
Creator: W.P. Internet Consulting 

Native Ground Music=-=Your Source for music of America's Past!
www.circle.net

This page features actual musical recordings, as well as sheet music with lyrics. Several categories of music have been divided into different links like Civil War music, rural music etc. This would be a useful site to obtain actual recordings of past Appalachian musician or a particular song of interest through their "song list." The only downside is that this is a commercial based page and so most of the material would have to be purchased.
Source: Colourfield/ Alex Alford. 

West Virginia's Appalachian Music and Literature
www.acess.k12.wv.us/wshcool/CAWhtm/index.htm

This is an excellent site for information about West Virginia's contribution to Appalachian music. Although the page has various links to different aspects of music and literature, the music page is broken down into different categories, which makes finding specific information much easier. There is also particular attention paid to folk traditions and Appalachian music, along with additional references, so this is a good web site. 
Created by Avis Caynor and Renee Wyatt. 

ASCAP: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
www.ascap.com

Great web page for finding out the names of composers of music. This could be really helpful if you wanted to know whom the original creator of a song was for research. Sometimes the author may still be alive and you could possibly arrange and interview, which would be a great resource. If you surf long enough you will find links to specific musicians as well as songs lists.
Source: ASCAP 

Hillsweb--Appalachia's Magazine
http.//ncweb.martin.k12.ky.us/hillsweb/index.htm

Wow! Awesome web page produced by high school students. The purpose of this page is to preserve Appalachian heritage, while dispelling the stereotypical myths that accompany history (I like that). A wealth of information about all aspects of Appalachian culture, including music and where some of it comes from. Well done web page with great information.
Source: Hillsweb (Bobby Allen) 


Other Reference Sources:  book


Conway, Cecelia. African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia: A Study of Folk Traditions. 1995. 

Conway's work deals with African influence in Appalachia. African influenced rhythm is apparent in much of Appalachian music from the beginning of the 19th century and beyond. The banjo, one of the Appalachians most popular instruments, came from Africa, as did some folk songs. Conway does a nice job explaining the context of African influence in and around the Appalachians.

Day, Douglas Turner. In the world of my ancestors: the Olive Dame Cambell Collection of Appalachian folksong, 1908-1916 1994. This is a good source for specific songs. Rather than detail the time period in general, Day focuses more upon actual songs that were sung by his ancestors. Very good for research on a specific song and the possible regions it may have spread to.

Fitzgerald, Nora. "The timeless Doc Watson; country innovator never left his roots." The Boston Globe. 2 March 1998. sec C, p.15.

Any discussion of Appalachian Music's evolution must involve Doc Watson at some point. Mr. Watson is a living legend of Appalachia who has actively supported keeping musical heritage alive. This article gives a summery of just this, with some nice quotes as well.

Ritchie, Jean. Singing Family of the Cumberlands, 1955. I was turned on to this biographical account of an Appalachian family while studying Appalachian music at Appalachian State University. (ASU has an excellent collection on Appalachian music as well) This is an excellent source from a nonacademic point of view. The book contains detailed accounts of a typical Appalachian family and how music affected their lives. Excellent for tracing some old ballads, as well as how technology and modern life has changed Appalachian culture.

Sharpe, Cicil. English folk songs from the southern Appalachians: comprising 274 songs and ballads with 968 tunes, 1952.

This is a great place to start any research for Appalachian ballads and folk songs. Mr. Sharpe wrote several books on English ballads, many of which were brought to the New World with European settlers. Mr. Sharpe's Appalachian study revealed the heavy influence of ballads upon early Appalachian culture, as well as how these folk songs and ballads changed over time and location.


General comments: 

For the purpose of research on Appalachian culture, I think the Web and print sources can work well together. Because of the long history of Appalachian music, print sources will always be of major relevance. Similarly, the revival of interest in folklore in the Appalachian region occurred in the 1950's and 60's. All of the great studies done during this period were before the time of electronic information sources, so they will have to be found in books. However, the web also offers some interesting insights into current Appalachian culture, as well as that of the past. In many cases these web sites can lead research in a positive direction. When used together, the Web and print sources provide great sources for research. 


Home | Research | Resume | Portfolio | JOMC 50UNC
Contact me at nichols3@email.unc.edu This page was updated on 11.21.98.