Adapting Contemporary Repertoire to the Folk Aesthetic

Rich Hatton, a Suffolk/Norfolk based musician and music educator tells EATMT about his project which he is currently working on playing contemporary music in a Folk style.

When it comes to getting young people involved, folk music has somewhat of an image problem. Whilst folk instruments themselves have an aesthetic that can easily inspire a young musician, the associated repertoire doesn’t often enjoy the same appeal; this is not to say that traditional folk repertoire is lacking. Rather, young people naturally gravitate towards playing music that they listen to or hear on a regular basis! 

Sometimes all it takes is a foot in the door, to get started on an instrument and explore familiar repertoire before moving further into the folk world. This ongoing project (Adapting Contemporary Repertoire to the Folk Aesthetic) aims to encourage exactly that, currently covering popular music from Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden & Kurt Cobain, game soundtracks including Age Of Empires II and Stardew Valley, film soundtracks including The Last Of The Mohicans (itself heavily influenced by a Scottish folk tune), and some classical music too, with an ambition to extend into new territory.

As a music educator, working in schools in Ipswich, I’ve already had great success in getting students interested in the accordion, banjo, ocarina and harp through this material, and that is hopefully just the beginning. Through guided discovery of folk instruments we can help students discover a life-long love for folk music and the brilliant folk music communities around the country. As folk music enthusiasts we should be careful to respect and maintain our core traditions, but also remember to respect the ever changing nature of what constitutes ‘folk’ music, encouraging young people to get involved and bring their own values and influences into the mix!

The first published performance part of this project is a Folk version of Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’:

If any instrumentalists (or vocalists!) would like to get involved, model their skills as folk musicians, and help invoke the spirit of folk music in the younger generation, please do get in contact at or @richspectrumsounds on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.

Rich Hatton, October 2023