Holy Names University’s American Folk Song Collection is a unique resource for music teachers, parents, choral conductors and composers. On this site you can:
- Search for songs using a powerful database (Search the Collection)
- Print lyrics, musical scores, song analyses, background information and game directions
- Listen to field recordings from the Library of Congress and other sources
- View short films on the history, philosophy and teaching applications of the work of Zoltán Kodály (The Kodály Vision)
- Learn more about HNU’s Kodály Center and folk song collection (The Kodály Center)
- Locate folk song resources (Bibliography)
- Look up unfamiliar terms (Glossary)
The online collection was created by HNU faculty members, Anne Laskey and Gail Needleman, from HNU’s collection of American Folk Songs for Teaching, developed over 35 years by faculty and students at HNU’s Kodály Center. In 2000, we received an award from the Gerald E. and Corinne L. Parsons Fund for Ethnography at the Library of Congress (LOC) to research historical field recordings in the LOC Archive of Folk Culture. These recordings, transcribed and analyzed, form the heart of the online, multimedia version of the collection, created by noted arts website producer Larry Larson and consultant John Sullivan, which was launched in 2004 with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It quickly became the premier site for American folk music.
The collection contains folk songs representing most of the geographic and cultural populations of the United States. Each song has been selected for its beauty, suitability for teaching and musical versatility. All songs in the collection include lyrics, a musical score and song analysis showing how it can be used to develop children’s musical and cultural understanding.
In 2013, we received a second grant from the Hewlett Foundation to expand and enhance the site. The new site, launched in 2014, is available on mobile devices and includes expanded search capabilities, additional songs and recordings, historical and cultural information about the songs, and a curriculum guide for teachers.
New songs are added to the collection on a regular basis, providing an ongoing resource for teachers, parents, and all those interested in introducing young people to the rich tradition of American folk music.
Holy Names University Project Team
Anne Laskey, Professor of Music
Gail Needleman, Lecturer in Music
Arwen Lawrence, Hispanic folk music consultant
Hajnalka Bardos Klieman, Graduate Assistant
Sarah Hawley-Snow, Graduate Assistant
David Fike, Vice President for Academic Affairs, 1997-2005
Hélène Matters, Acting Chair, Music Department, 2003-05
Toni Locke, Archivist and consultant
Elena Olkovskaya, Director of Information Technology
External Project Team
John Sullivan, Producer
Janis Walzer Larson, Photographer
Jacob Needleman, Narrator
Laurel Unwin, Karen Paulson, Christine Metzger, and the students and staff, Mustard Seed School, Hoboken, NJ
Gemma Arguelles, Convent of the Sacred Heart Elementary School, San Francisco, CA
Marta Vandulek, Secretary, International Kodály Society
Video 1 (History)
- Kodály and siblings (Photo by Sándor Fink)
Video 2 (Philosophy)
- Checking old tunes at his desk using the old phonograph (MTI Photo by Károly Gink)
- At the Lorántffy Zsuzsanna Music Primary School (Photo by László Vámos)
- Among "the musicians of the future" (Photo by István Harmath)
Video 3 (Classroom)
- Philippe Pigouchet's "Heures à l'usage de Paris," 1497.
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Peggy A. Bulger, Director
Joseph C. Hickerson, Head of the Archive of Folk Culture emeritus
Judith A. Gray, Folklife Specialist
Todd Harvey, Folklife Specialist
Jennifer A. Cutting, Folklife Specialist
Ann Hoog, Folklife Specialist
We have made every effort to determine the copyright status of each song and recording included on this website, to identify the copyright owner, and to secure permission where necessary. We hope that copyright owners will pardon any omissions or errors and will notify us so that corrections can be made.
All other text, analyses, musical transcriptions, curricula and materials other than recordings as discussed above are © 2015 by the Kodaly Center at Holy Names University and are intended to be used solely within the educational context of this website. Any other use, including redistribution of any kind, requires written permission from the copyright holder.