Cambridge, Ontario

What is (Traditional) Folk Music?

Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are:

  1. continuity which links the present with the past
  2. variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group, and
  3. selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.

The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music, and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.

The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character.

Adopted by the International Folk Music Council at its conference in Sao Paulo, 1954.

Sessions & Singarounds

Singarounds and Sessions occur all year round - please see the Events page and the Grand River Folk Community listings for schedules.

Sessions and Singarounds are both important parts of the Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music. These are two of the ways in which those who are not paid performers at the festival can get together for informal music making.

Both are features adopted from festivals in the British Isles and Europe. A Pub Session is a gathering of musicians who play similar styles of music. They sit down (often with a glass on hand) with no stage or PA and simply play instrumental music together in a spontaneous and often very exciting way.

The Festival's Pub Sessions are held in The Kiwi pub on Dickson Street throughout the weekend. They are hosted by specifically named musicians, but all those with an interest in playing traditional jigs, reels, etc. are welcome to join in.

Singarounds are better known in North America as Song Circles. Again, these are informal gatherings without a stage or sound system. These are held in quieter settings than the pub sessions and listening is very important. Unlike the Pub Sessions, the focus is on songs.

If you make it out to the Mill Race Festival be sure to check out our Sessions and Singarounds, listed in the official programme. And during the rest of the year watch Grand River Folk for events in the area.