Folk Music (folk song, popular folk music), in the original sense meaning anonymous works or art music that have become popular tunes, in a wider sense meaning popular tunes with contents similar to those of folk songs.
Folk music is closely inter-related with art music, whereby an important part in mediating between the two types was played by church music and schoolmasters, who carried art music to remote villages. Austrian folk music pertains to the Alpine type with the Ländler, Yodelling Song and Schnadahüpfl as main genres, which are supplemented by general genres of German folk music, such as ballads, soldier´s songs and religious folk songs, all of which were composed in major-minor tonality. Instruments are mainly the violin, double bass, harp (particularly in the Tyrol), zither, dulcimer, accordion (particularly the diatonic button-key accordion), wind instruments (clarinet, horn, trumpets, single-handed pipes, etc.), guitar and guimbard (Jew's harp); instrumentation varies according to the regions. Folk music is also closely related to customs (feast days and seasons, working world, etc.).
The value attached to folk music changed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when research and collection activities commenced. Pioneering work was carried out by Archduke Johann and by J. von Sonnleithner as well as by M. Ziska and J. M. Schottky, whose collections were compiled between 1811 and 1819. Other extensive collections were compiled by A. von Spaun, R. Sztachovics, V. M. Süß, W. Pailler, A. Schlossar, and J. Gabler. J. Pommer, the father of a more recent trend in Austrian folk music, founded, in 1889, the "German Folk Song Choral Society" and, in 1899, the journal "The German Folk Song" ("Das Deutsche Volkslied"). Pommer marked the change from amateurism to scholarly research of folk music. He developed the "production theory" of folk songs (according to which folk songs originate anonymously and spontaneously within the people), which was opposed by J. Meier´s "reception theory" (suggesting that folk songs were mostly produced at a higher cultural level and "sank" down to the common folk). Pommer played a leading role in launching the initiative "The Folk Song in Austria", which was founded in 1904 by the Ministry of Education (under W. von Hartel) to research folk songs in the times of the monarchy, and which was the predecessor of the "Österreichisches Volksliedwerk" (founded in 1949). The society takes great interest in collecting and recording folk music and publishes the yearbook "Jahrbuch des Österreichischen Volksliedwerks" (since 1952) as well as "Corpus Musicae Popularis Austriacae" (COMPA, since 1993), which, following the spirit of 1904, aims to give a general survey of folk music in Austria.
Well-known researchers and collectors of folk music include A. Anderluh, Walter Deutsch, K. Horak, K. M. Klier, R. Zoder, L. Schmidt, H. Commenda, G. Kotek, K. Liebleitner, G. Haid, W. Suppan, and R. Pietsch. The founding of the Institute of Music Folklore at the Musikhochschule in Graz by W. Wünsch in 1963 marked an important step in folk music research in Austria, and was followed by similar institutions in Vienna (1968) and in Innsbruck (1987).
In everyday language, popular folk music is frequently called folk music, and used in this sense it includes the Wiener Lied songs and certain trends in Kärntner Lied songs. Pop folk groups with great popular appeal such as "Schürzenjäger", "Kasermandln", "Original-Oberkrainer", "Stoakogler" reach wide sections of the population owing to mass media coverage (e.g. broadcasting on television of popular music events such as "Musikantenstadl", "Grand Prix der Volksmusik"). The great national and international success of this genre, which is uniform in both form and content, tends to threaten regional characteristics and to stunt the dynamism of traditional folk music. Since the middle of the 1980s, folk music has repeatedly been a source of inspiration for "Austropop" and rock music (Light Music).
Literature: Jahrbuch des Österreichischen Volksliedwerks, 1952ff.; L. Schmidt, Volksgesang und Volkslied, 1970; R. Zoder, Volkslied, Volkstanz und Volksbrauch in Österreich, 1970; W. Deutsch et al., Volksmusik in Österreich, 1984 (incl. extensive bibliography); Corpus Musicae Popularis Austriacae, 1993ff.
References to other albums: