Folk music is almost as hard to define as chipmusic is. You have a feeling you know what it is, but if you start to explain it you’ll run into trouble quite easily. “Yeah, so you have to use certain instruments, but, eh, it’s not like you have to use those instruments. And not all music made with those instruments belong in the genre. Because there are typical aesthetical elements. Or atleast some people say that. Yeah, maybe it’s more like a community or lifestyle… so…”
Dragan of Bodenständig 2000 sometimes calls chipmusic home computer folk music. And he has a point. Some people say that folk music are basically traditions developed by “uncultured people“, as opposed to the people who talk about art, philosophy and culture all the time. People who just sort of do what they do, without talking too much about it. Stuff that develops almost naturally within a group at a specific time, using certain musical technologies (mechanical, digital, whatever). Most likely, this is how we’ve played with sounds together for centuries, before it was even packaged under the term “music”. In that sense, folk music is perhaps a retronym just like chipmusic is. And to me it makes all the sense in the world to call chipmusic folkmusic. But not to most other people.
But anyway. Balún posted a jibaro (Puerto Rican folk music) song made on C64 in 1987, which led @gusandrews to ask for more folk chipmusic. So I saw that as an opportunity to continue my quest to examplify various chipmusic genres. CrillFactor suggests that bag pipes sound similar to square waves, and I’ve atleast heard one (unreleased) chiptune by Nemo that mimicked this sound.
Minusbaby suggests reggaeton, which makes me think of Super Guachin but even more so Meneo who’s electrified many dance floors with his Gameboy reggaeton noise dance nudity. Reggae could also be thought of as a contemporary folk music, and there’s a book coming out soon about 8-bit reggae actually.
For me personally, growing up in north Europe, folk music means something else though. In ye ol’ colonialist Europe I guess black folk music is often labeled as “world music”. I made a song called Volksing once, which was supposed to capture that uncultured brutal schlager singalong folk style we have over here. Much white, very barbarian. Something more mature in that vein would be for example Bud Melvin and Mark DeNardo. It also makes sense then to mention Manou, Dorothy’s Magic Bag and 386DX here, I think. Maybe even the industrial Amiga poet Arvid Tuba.
But this is all contemporary folk music. How about the oldschool traditional kind? I’m talking about things like Education of the Noobz (by Dragan in Bodenständig) and Rugar. Melodic, emotional and something quite different from dance music, pop music or singer/songwriter stuff. I don’t think there’s much of that in the chipscene, since it was always dominated by danceable music. We’d have to go digging through games and demos to find more of this.
My head hurts a bit when I think about that though. If you have any suggestions, I’d be very grateful if you comment. Here are some suggestions where to start. For some reason it’s all Amiga music, and most of it is from Finland. Probably because their folk music is ze best! (though I don’t know what it is)
Pic Saint Loup – West History (more like country, I guess)
Dizzy – Johdattelupolska (and also Alternative samba, Fanatic Waltz, Girl from Ipanema)
Oh yeah, and if you want to play these songs I think the easiest way is to use VLC.