Today, if you like then there is a wide range of music available – everything from rock to soothing instrumentals. Millions of people love country music and folk music as well. There could be a plethora of reasons behind it, for example, captivating stories, upbeat rhythms and most of all it is fun to dance to country music. But, do not confuse yourself – country music is not the same as folk music.  

Country Music 

So, if you don’t know about country music or modern folk music and want to know more about it then believe me you are at the right spot. Country music is rooted in American southeast and west. Once you start listening to country music – it becomes easy to relate to lonely cowboys, lost cattle, and love gone wrong. Also, country music tells tales of ordinary heroes. To make country music you need acoustic guitar, banjo, upright bass, and mandolin. The vocals part is simple ballads, danceable tunes, a folk melancholy romance. There are often two to three voices present in one song. 

Folk Music 

One difference between country and indie folk music is that country music is an offshoot of folk. There are many disparities in origin, how they sound and the theme. Believe it or not! But folk music started back in eighteen hundred. During this period American was facing revolutions and colonization. Traditional Ballard like ‘ ‘Barbara Allen’’ was actually passed down by immigrants. Folk music is unique and it is universal. Folk singers on the other hand were not professional but made music from their own potential. Folk extended to the 20th century when new types evolved. It is often remembered as the second wave of folk music or folk revival. 

Key Similarities 

Origin: First things first, stories in both folk and country music are mostly rooted in the working class. Both genres of music are about blue-collar Americans. Lastly, both music types are blended styles from Irish Celtic Melodies and English Tunes. 

Sounds: Country music and Folk Music also sound much alike with each other. Both of them have a repetition of simple melodies. And, both have lyrics that tell stories. Both music genres have a catchy chorus and memorable phrases. 

Rhythm: Folk and country music uses simple chords and melodies. The rhythm is easy to tap into and regularly encourages the listener to participate. 

Instruments: Both folk music instruments and country instruments include strings, for example, guitar, fiddle, upright brass, and mandolin. Currently, many artists also use electric guitars, dobros, and percussion instruments. 

Common Artists

  1. Woody Guthrie
  2. Carter Family 
  3. Roger Millar 
  4. Jimmy Rogers

Key Difference 

Needless to say, folk music’s breadth is far wider than country music. In other words, country music is one part of folk. Folk music is truly unique. 

Artists: There are some common artists and most famous folk music band singers that shaped this genre. Folk genre has some big names such as Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt, Mama Cass Eliot, and many other groups The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, etc. 

Theme: Many songwriters are shared their stories about mama, trains, and their time in prison. So, the main theme of country music forms includes everything starting from religion, patriotism, the south, loving, losing and sexy women and yearning for the past. 

Folk themes include songs from Bob Dylan and historical events like “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gord Lightfoot. The folk music derivative forms often work songs. It addresses issues slavery, war, backbreaking, jobs, social and political issues. 

Sounds: Folk music is simply made by using acoustic instruments. Folk musicians might use sticks, spoons, washboards, food stamps, handclaps, and finger snaps. Moreover, folk songs change from generation to generation because they were passed without any written records. 

Rhythm: Folk music is light rhythms and often has powerful drum parts. 


Lastly, both folk songs and country music roots go back to Appalachian Music. There are both differences and similarities between two musical forms. Folk and country artists have very thin lines in between and often their musical instruments are the same as well.

Before you dig deep into modern roots music, it is essential to appreciate the diversity of ideas and experience. Roots musicians, for example, Lydia Loveless, Sean Rowe, and many others have shaped our history, so we need to be a bit sensitive to complexities and other cultural possibilities. Individually or collectively- many of these people have given flesh and meaning notions of liberty, equality, and freedom”- Richard Malkovich, roots music blogger. 

American Roots Musicians Guide

Lillie Mae, Orville Peck, and others perhaps you are not so familiar with these names but they are famous musicians. And, they continue to make amazing roots music for the modern generation. During the beginning of the 20th century – folk music word was only used by scholars. Generally, they use the term ‘folk music’ to describe music made by European ancestry, often people who live in relatively isolated rural south. Now as we have moved forward, folk music now is seen as a window to look into rich cultural life. Folk music often communicates words of hope, sorrow, and convictions faced by ordinary people in their everyday lives. It was in the 1960s when folk music awareness gained its strength and quickly became famous. The artistic base for roots music increased and ‘folk music’ became popular music. Do you know about Bob Dylan? He is the one who pioneered roots music, and he was famous for acoustic performing style. Often ‘roots music’ involves a plethora of other musical genres, including blues, gospel, traditional country, and native American music. 

Roots Musicians Guide

American Literature 

American music and literature have always drawn each other as a source. They both reflect many common historical and humanistic themes. In essence, roots music echoes the concern found in American literature. If you run through all four programs of American Roots Music – you would come across true perception of roots music. In other words, roots music is powerful and basically unacknowledged folk literature. It is also perceived as a body of expressive culture that often reflects and dramatizes the same theme which is found in formal American literature. 

Roots music songs include words of empowerment, freedom in socially structured society and the importance of preserving traditions. Also, the songs from roots music help in maintaining value. Many people assume roots music is the neglected chapter in American culture, theme and often overlap with formal culture. Believe it or not! Artists of root music craft songs and this art has generally been oral instead of written books. It is passed on by word of mouth. From the view of development – literature shaped roots music in terms of how it was mediated and understood by broad American audiences. Two movements named ‘Regionalism’ and Naturalism’ of the late 19th century aroused popular interest. These movements helped in creating an interest in rural American. 


Even in song Lydia Loveless and Sean Rowe and many others – Freedom is the key theme. This is both in terms of ideas expressed in music and the use of music during social movements. History of American roots music is involving deep and collective feelings of struggle for a positive social change. Check-out song named ‘We shall overcome’, it became an anthem during Civil Rights Movement. This song is based on Freedom theme and also embodied many American’s Musical Heroes. 

Wrapping Up 

Roots Music continues to grow throughout the world and even in the 21st century it appeals and vitality is at craze. Modern folk music songs speak about current human conditions and very different historical periods. Today, when globalization is at its peak, roots music is evolving by synthesizing elements from disparate sources. Although it is hard to trace back folk music to its ‘roots’, the music continues to give voice to every-increasing spectrum American lifestyle and social change.