3/14/2013 (updated 3/14/2013)

Folk rock legend Richard Thompson talks to FFS

With a trio you've got less harmonic information - you haven't got someone playing the chords all the time, so there's more space, there's more air. You have to approach that a little differently so there's a lot more melody, and a lot more unison between the guitar and the bass, for instance. In terms of writing, I write on the acoustic guitar to start with and then take it from there, so everything starts acoustically and it gets adapted to electric.

...Some people would argue that popular music these days should be considered as folk music. And then it depends on how you would define folk music - do you define it as music of the people, music of the underclass? In which case, you might say that rap and hip-hop are really forms of folk music, and popular music may be too sometimes. But then when people say folk music they mean acoustic music - or they mean traditional music. I tend to think that folk music is referring to more of a roots-based music, and popular music encompasses a lot of different styles that aren't necessarily roots-based.

Popular music is trying to be popular, and sometimes it's manipulated by the business, by managers and producers, to tweak it and make it more popular, more appealing. Sometimes that's a nice thing - if it's a Beatles record. At other times it's less pleasant, it's a more crass process. Having said all that, I do feel that right now is probably a good time for music, because what's called folk music is a lot closer to the mainstream than it has been for sometime. I think the closer that roots music gets to popular music, then it's healthy for everybody. -RT

Alice Knapp, For Folks Sake