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The heritage of country music

Posted on 19 December 2018

The relationship between country and British folk music is explored by York researchers

In a new research paper in the International Journal of Heritage Studies, John Schofield and Aleen Stanton (a former Masters student on whose dissertation this study is based) explore the heritage of country music. Beginning with the realisation that country music has significant and growing popularity in the UK, the authors investigate key relationships within country music, and specifically its relationship to British folk music.

Exploring this relationship through musical composition, alongside ethnographic and geographic discussion of its core elements (its origins in the folk music of the British Isles, manifestations in North America, and presentation to audiences and its cultural significance on both sides of the Atlantic), the authors counter the view that UK Country is little more than just "dressing up and playing at being cowboys".

Rather, the study reveals a significant material and intangible heritage through historical migration, inherited song forms, shared lyrical themes, common instrumental soundscapes, and performance styles. This transatlantic back-and-forth heritage is a circular conversation, analogous to the Country tradition of songs sung "in the round."

This research adds to the range of genres whose heritage John has been researching over the past few years, a range that also includes hip-hop, punk and techno.

Read the full article at