While folk music is based on themes ranging from political protest to nostalgia for an earlier time, one of the unifying characteristics of almost every folk song in every sub-genre is that of togetherness. For those who themselves play, this is often celebrated by jamming with others.
While this can be done in any space from a living room to a forest campsite, it’s highly desirable to have your own dedicated, soundproof space in which to play music. In the first place, especially if you live in the city, the sounds of motorcycles revving and police sirens dopplering into the distance can easily knock the atmosphere down a notch or two. Acoustic instruments can easily be overwhelmed or at least have their sound spoiled by too much ambient noise. If you go into a new environment, this is very noticeable, but otherwise we simply filter it out mentally. You would most likely be surprised at how differently a truly quiet room sounds.
Another reason is to be able to make recordings reliably: custom CDs make great gifts, but less so if you can hear your neighbor starting a chainsaw in the background. Finally, although this may seem a little selfish to say out loud, it really is sometimes necessary for you and your friends to have a little privacy from your family. A reasonable amount of alone time will make everyone happier over the long run.
If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room or basement that you can convert into a studio, you will be happy to know that all that’s required is a few hundred dollars, some basic DIY skills and a weekend’s work.
The first thing to know is that noise easily enters (or escapes) through any gaps in the walls. If you don’t actually want to brick up the windows, window inserts and noise-absorbing curtains can do a decent job of reducing the amount of sound entering from outside without blocking the view. Acoustic curtains can also be hung in front of the door, while installing a door sweep takes care of the gap underneath.
The next step is to improve the walls’ sound insulation by lining them with some kind of material. The cheapest option is to simply cover them with thick, heavy blankets, which will already help a great deal. At the other end of the price scale, professional-quality sound tiles not only damp noise from the outside but also improve the room’s acoustics.
If you choose to use a wall lining specifically designed for sound absorption, pay close attention to its STC rating. The higher, the better, with an STC of 50 being very good.
Beverages and Snacks
Nobody wants to be delegated to go down to the kitchen to make sandwiches for everyone else. Likewise, having to walk two steps for a cold beer is far preferable to having to leave your private space when you’re trying to relax.
A toaster oven makes many delicious snacks possible, and one of the best ones available can be had for under $100. A bar fridge is obviously a necessity, after which an appliance such as a blender or espresso machine will be all you need to turn your music room into a little self-contained paradise.
Since you and your friends will likely be spending many hours in this room, comfortable seating is important. Chairs with armrests are obviously inconvenient for holding some instruments, but a sofa is almost mandatory – it’s pretty difficult to take a nap sitting upright. The only problem here is that stuffed chairs take up a lot of space and are inconvenient to move to another room. The more seating you provide, the less space remains for things like ping pong tables.
As far as decoration goes, the best guideline is always to let your style fit your personality. Looking at what others have done on Pinterest is a good place to start, but remember that this room is supposed to be your own space. Don’t be sidetracked by someone else’s theory about interior decorating, or allow the decor to interfere with the room’s comfort factor. Building a bookcase along one wall is always a good idea, though, as it’s the perfect place to display mementos, photographs and other random junk.