Transforming folk

Innovation and tradition in English folk-rock music

By Rob Burns

Transforming folk

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8533-8
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: February 2012
  • BIC Category: Music, Theory of music & musicology, Music, MUSIC / General, The arts / Theory of music & musicology


English folk-rock, a former progressive rock music style, remains a stimulus for further change in folk music and has enabled English folk-rock to become regarded as popular music by a new audience with diverse musical tastes. From musicological and historical perspectives, this book maintains that folk music performance continues to be influenced by rock and other popular music styles. From a cultural studies perspective, this book also demonstrates how the popularity of folk music presented at world music festivals has stimulated significant growth in folk music audiences since the mid-1990s and consequently the UK is experiencing a new phase of revivalism - the third folk revival. The book contains contributions from Martin Carthy (The Imagined Village), Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention), Ashley Hutchings (The Albion Band), Gerry Conway (Fairport Convention) and Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span).


"A thoughtful and engaging musical, social and cultural exploration of English folkrock,Transforming Folk will be of interest and value not only to those wishing to explore the genre, but also to any scholars with interests in English and British history and culture,folk and folklore, as well as notions of tradition, identity and authenticity regardless of place of origin"

(Donna Weston (2014) Musicology Australia, 36:1)


Rob Burns is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Otago, New Zealand.


1. Setting the scene
2. Selling England by the song
3. Ploughshares to Stratocasters
4. Tradition and authenticity in adaptation processes for English folk-rock
5. Performer perspectives of audience reception of English folk-rock
6. The third folk revival
Appendix 1: Stylistic diversity at United Kingdom rock music festivals
Appendix 2: Examples of performance differences in folk songs recorded by traditional folk singers and by English folk-rock performers

Sign up to our newsletter
and receive 20% off all future book orders