antedating "folk music"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 11 14:46:48 UTC 2013

1859 D'Avenet (or is it "D'Aveney"?) is especially interesting because it
refers to the music of church-bells as "folk" (i.e., peculiarly national)

The term seems to have been unknown outside the tiny circle of British
antiquarians and academics familiar with the work of the Grimm brothers in

OED's 1870 "Folk-Song and Folk-Speech of Lancashire" seems to be the first
exx. of "folksong" in the modern sense (fuzzy as that is).


On Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 9:23 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: antedating "folk music"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Excellent antedatings, Jon!  The "folk-" compounds are interesting; some
> of them were inspired by W. J. Thoms's coinage of "folk-lore," others were
> formed on German models.
> Fred Shapiro
> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of
> Jonathan Lighter [wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM]
> Sent: Friday, January 11, 2013 7:53 AM
> Subject: antedating "folk music"
> OED: 1889  (G. B. Shaw).
> 1852 Andrew Hamilton _Sixteen Months in the Danish Isles_  II (London:
> Bentley) 46: The melody was sufficiently simple, and, doubtless, as old as
> the words; it had a slight cast of the wildness almost inseparable from
> folk-music; but on the whole the ballad airs are in general not so original
> as  other kinds of Danish popular music.
> 1859 H. D'Avenet in _Notes & Queries_  (2nd Ser.) VII (June 4) 451: This
> class of artizans [bell-founders], the great purveyors of folk-music.
> 1861 Richard Grant White _National Hymns_ (N.Y.: Rudd & Carleton)  29: Of
> airs properly national, it should be remembered, the composers are not
> known. They are found existing among the people, who are ignorant of their
> origin. They are, to borrow a German-phrase, folk-music.
> The term seems not to have become generally familiar till after 1900.
> JL
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