Psych folk: Wikis


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Psychedelic folk
Stylistic origins Electric folk
Progressive folk
Psychedelic rock
Psychedelic pop
Cultural origins Late 1960s, early 1970s
Typical instruments Acoustic guitar, Percussion
Derivative forms Neofolk
Freak folk
New Weird America

Psychedelic folk or psych folk is a loosely defined music genre that originated in the 1960s through the fusion of folk music and psychedelic rock. It retained the largely acoustic instrumentation of folk, but added musical influences common to psychedelic rock and the psychedelic experience.



Psych folk generally favors acoustic instrumentation although it often incorporates other instrumentation. Chanting, early music and world music influences are often found in psych folk. Much like its rock counterpart, psychedelic folk is often known for a peculiar, trance-like, and atmospheric sound, often drawing on musical improvisation and Asian influences. Its lyrics are often concerned with such subjects as the natural world, love and beauty and try to evoke a state of mind associated with the effects of psychedelic drugs.[1]



The first musical use of the term psychedelic is thought to have been by the New York based folk group the The Holy Modal Rounders on their version of Lead Belly's 'Hesitation Blues' in 1964.[2] Psychedelic music spread rapidly in the beat folk scenes of both the east and west coast of the mid-1960s.[3] San Francisco produced bands such as Kaliedoscope, It's a Beautiful Day, Peanut Butter Conspiracy and H. P. Lovecraft.[3] From New York city's Greenwich Village came groups such as Jake and the Family Jewels and Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys[3] and from Florida Pearls Before Swine. Many of these psychedelic folk groups followed the Byrds into folk rock from 1965, and are, as a result, more widely remembered, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.[4]

From the mid-sixties, partly as a result of the British Invasion, this trend ran in parallel in both America and Britain and as part of the inter-related folk, folk rock and rock scenes. Folk artists who were particularly significant included the Scottish performers Donovan, who combined influences of American artists like Bob Dylan with references to flower power, and the Incredible String Band, who from 1967 incorporated a range of influences into their acoustic based music, including medieval and eastern instruments.[5][6] There was a brief flowering of British and Irish progressive folk in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with groups like the Third Ear Band and Quintessence following the eastern Indian musical and more abstract work by group such as Comus, Dando Shaft, Trees, Spirogyra, Forest, and Jan Dukes De Grey.[7]

Decline in the 1970s

In the early 1970s psychedelia began to fall out of fashion and those folk groups that had not already moved into different areas had largely disbanded. In Britain folk groups also tended to electrify as did acoustic duo Tyrannosaurus Rex which became the electric combo T-Rex.[8] This was a continuation of a process by which progressive folk had considerable impact on mainstream rock.[9] Others, probably influenced by the electric folk pioneered by Fairport Convention from 1969, moved towards more traditional material, a category including Dando Shaft, Amazing Blondel, and Jack the Lad, an offshoot of northern progressive folk group Lindisfarne.[7] Examples of bands that remained firmly on the border between progressive folk and progressive rock were the short lived (and recently reunited) Comus and, more successfully, Renaissance, who combined folk and rock with classical elements.[7]


A resurrection of psych folk appeared after the rise of indie rock during the 2000s, with the New Weird America movement, which also saw the rise of the stylistically similar genre of freak folk. Early proprietors in the period include Davenport, No Neck Blues Band, and Sunburned Hand of the Man. Also, Animal Collective's early albums identify closely with freak folk as does their collaboration with veteran British folk artist Vashti Bunyan,[10] and The Microphones/Mount Eerie,[11] who combine naturalistic elements with lo-fi and psychedelia. Both artists received significant exposure in the indie music scene following critical acclaim from review site Pitchfork Media[12][13][14] and soon more artists to began experimenting with the genre, including Grizzly Bear[15] and Grouper,[16] both of whom have also been well received

See also


  1. ^ Van Waes, Gerald. "A Brief Overview of Psych-Folk and Acid Folk, from 60s until now". Retrieved 2009-07-01.  
  2. ^ Hicks (2000), pp 59–60.
  3. ^ a b c Auslander (2006), pp. 76.
  4. ^ Unterberger (2002), pp. 183–230.
  5. ^ Scaruffi (2003), pp. 54.
  6. ^ DeRogatis (2003), pp. 120.
  7. ^ a b c Scaruffi (2003), pp. 81–82.
  8. ^ Sweers (2005), pp. 40.
  9. ^ Macan (1997), pp. 134–5.
  10. ^ "Splendid Magazine reviews Animal Collective (featuring Vashti Bunyan): Prospect Hummer". Splended. September 13, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  11. ^ "Splendid E-zine reviews: The Microphones". Splendid. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  12. ^ "Animal Collective: Sung Tongs". Pitchfork Media. May 2, 2004. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  13. ^ "Animal Collective / Vashti Bunyan: Prospect Hummer EP". Pitchfork Media. May 15, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  14. ^ "The Microphones: The Glow, Pt. 2". Pitchfork Media. September 10, 2001. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  15. ^ "Grizzly Bear Feeds on Psych-Folk". The Harvard Crimson. February 11, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  16. ^ "Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill review". Mojo. December 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  


  • Auslander, Philip (2006). Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-06868-5.  
  • DeRogatis, Jim (2003). Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-0-634-05548-5.  
  • Hicks, Michael (2000). Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06915-4.  
  • Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509888-4.  
  • Scaruffi, Piero (2003). A History of Rock Music, 1951-2000. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-29565-4.  
  • Sweers, Britta (2005). Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-515878-6.  
  • Unterberger, Richie (2002). Turn! Turn! Turn!: The '60s Folk-rock Revolution. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-703-5.  

External links

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