Compton's Article on Folk Music
For students looking to get a historical perspective of folk music, there are few better sources than Compton's encyclopedia. Compton highlights the diversity of styles and histories that comprise folk while also providing examples of its international reach and information on impacting folk performers.
Definition of Folk Music
Although it may seem limited, folk music actually comprises many genres and connotes many meanings. This page works through the various definitions of folk music throughout history and the present. Newcomers will applaud the comprehensive information available while seasoned veterans can critically evaluate folk's many meanings.
Folk Alliance is an organization devoted to preserving and promoting folk music and dance, which is deemed increasingly fragile in a technological world. Folk alliance is composed of artists, people in the recording industry, and anyone actively interested in preserving the cultural diversity of folk experiences.
Folk Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and America
Research the roots of much contemporary music by understanding the folk music of the British Isles and America. This concise site categorizes folk music by country and by theme and contains the lyrics to some old-time favorites. Get a good lesson in history by visiting this site.
Folk Music 101: What is Folk Music?
About.com guide Hugh Blumenfeld attempts to sort through the many definitions of folk music but doesn't attempt to arrive at any one conclusion. This site is extremely useful because it provides links to the different contestable styles of folk music rather than just being a mere laundry list of terms and definitions.
From "acoustic" to "zither," this dictionary defines the terms of folk music. The site also contains an entertaining "folkie profile," plus a list of "main terms" (famous names, instruments, music theory, etc.) that contain numerous hot-button links to related entries.
Library of Folk Music Links
I doubt that you'll find a more thorough online resource for folk music than the FolkLib index. Its site is extremely Spartan and it might not be the most user-friendly or descriptive place around, but it carries a tremendous amount of just about everything folk-related. While other sites may just have links to artist's sites, this page hooks you up to biographies written about them and downloadable videos of their performances, when available.
Links to Ethnomusicology, Folk and World Music
This is an invaluable resource for students of world music. Find direct links to the institutes that focus their efforts on covering the folk and world music scene. The links are organized by useful topics like geographical region, music styles, and record labels worldwide.
Singer/Songwriter Directory: Folk Music
If you have the time to browse, this site features thirty-five pages of links to the personal homepages of folk-music performers. Although the pages aren't well organized, you will be rewarded with your persistence because there are brief descriptions of every artist's accompanying links.
Listen to nearly 700 sound recordings of American folksongs from the archives of the Library of Congress. These 1939 recordings represent a broad spectrum of musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs.
Woody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song: Correspondence, 1940-1950
Woody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song: Correspondence, 1940-1950 highlights letters between Woody Guthrie and staff of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center) at the Library of Congress.