Research topic: Folk and world music

Research into folk music helps us understand how people enjoy music not only as an aesthetic object, but also as a means of expressing identity and community.

Folk music’s current status is on par with other musical genres in many countries, and its style is based on specific soundscapes with regard to instrumentation, rhythm etc. The traditional academic view, however, is that folk music is music played or listened to by "the people" and transmitted by word of mouth, thereby resulting in many different forms of musical composition. If this musical style is customary to a social group, the latter will determine what music is to be played and listened to and ultimately, what is to become part of its musical tradition or regarded as obsolete.

World music is an umbrella term created by the music industry to encompass all music genres that do not fall under the category of Western art and popular music commonplace in record stores. In practice, however, the term includes many of the same styles of music that are classified as "ethnic" music or non-European music, i.e., everything from traditional folk music from all parts of the world to art music from Asia and Africa, and pop music from Africa, Latin America and Asia. This term is also often used to describe Western pop music that incorporates non-European musical elements to produce various fusion genres.

Research in the field of folk and world music examines how people produce, use, think and talk about music, both in the past as well as in the present. Research methods range from technical sound analyses to transcriptions and musical analysis, interviews with musicians, observations of musical lives and the analysis of media debates.

This field differs from other music research in that traditional practice is just as interesting as musical composition, and there is less of a distinction between the composer and the performer.

Research projects


  • The Norwegian Collection of Folk Music
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Published Nov. 25, 2014 11:36 AM - Last modified Nov. 8, 2018 10:01 AM