When analyzing music and placing them into different genres, it’s important to first take a step back and break down what exactly a genre even is. A musical genre is a category of music where the songs in that group have a cohesive theme about them. A genre far extends songs simply just sounding alike. A musical genre has its own specific recognizable traits due to certain instruments, musical patterns, vocal types, and lyrical content. Different genres have different histories and originate from different parts of the world, therefore a social and cultural element directly influences genres as well. The impact of the social construct of a genre holds value for its culture and is just as important as the musical markers of the genre. Folk music is identifiable by its classic twangy sound due to it being centered around string instruments such as acoustic guitars and banjos. There usually aren’t any drums in the music, and if so it just lightly supports carrying the beat. Harmonicas can also be associated with folk music as well. Overall, it has a very simple sound that doesn’t overwhelm the listener with music and allows them to focus on the lyrics. This is because folk originated as the earliest type of “message music.” According to music sources such as FolkZone.com, folk music was first created back in the 1800s by slaves and indentured servants, singing about their hardships to cope with what they were going through. The lyrical content, or folklore, told stories and shared experiences that reflected the emotions of the current social and economic status at the time. The simple country sound and the folklore itself contributes to the reputation that “folk music is the music of the lower class.” 


There was an evident decrease in the popularity of folk music, then it was greatly revived in the 1960s by legends such as Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. These musicians used folk to embody the voice of the nation and capture the feelings and opinions of the Vietnam War. This war had a significant impact on many lives and people from different walks of life. Musicians used folklore as a tool to voice stories and protest for peace. In an article written by Kim Ruehl on liveabout.com, she also discusses how the history of African American music and musical styles from country music come together to create folklore and remain prominent features with its revival. After the heightened tension of the Vietnam War, folk music began to dip in popularity again, but never died out. It makes sense that “Sheep” by Mt Joy fits into the folk genre, as it seems that folk music popularity has always had a protest element and emphasis on the message to it. “Sheep” also musically fits into all the same categories as typical folk music with the prominent raspy voice and simple musical style; it’s just slightly modernized with electric guitars, which Bob Dylan started to do as well. Ruehl comments, “As we venture further into the 21st century, we find ourselves in another “folk music revival,” as young people across the country are warming up to old-time music and bluegrass, and solo artists-perpetuating a tradition that began in the /60s with artists like Bob Dylan … to keep alive the spirit of the contemporary singer-songwriter.” Tensions in our current political climate are certainly heightened, and social issues such as police brutality fit perfectly with being expressed on this platform, as it was historically created to do.