Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bartók, Béla. “On the Significance of Folk Music.” In Béla Bartók Essays, ed. Benjamin Suchoff, 345-47. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1976.

Contrary to popular belief, composing new works with existing folk music is a rather difficult task. Borrowing a folk melody requires not only to stay true to the original peculiarity of the music, but the unique character of the music also complicates its use in a new composition. Some have suggested that folk tunes can simply exist as musical themes in compositions if the composer has a lack of inspiration. However, the need to have musical themes in music is a nineteenth century ideal. Bach and Handel modeled their compositions after predecessors, and their new compositions were so different from their models that the originals are easily forgotten. A contemporary composer can borrow from folk music in the same way. Folk music can be used to develop musical styles without the need to force the music in conventional forms. It requires great skill and knowledge to use folk music in compositions.

Index Classifications: General, 1900s

Contributed by: Nicolette van den Bogerd

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