Bluegrass music is perhaps one of the most misrepresented genres in the industry. Blue grass originated before the doowop era giving it a dated label. Much like the seashell game, the facts and details of bluegrass have been left to the way side. Living in a time where the sounds of the nineties are classified as an oldie but goodie, it is not surprising to hear bluegrass referenced to as country music.
While this is not a grave error, it is an inaccurate description. At a glance, the two musical genres are similar giving way to some generalizations. The most common reference to Bluegrass is the terms “hillbilly” or “backwoods” due to the origins of the tunes. This leads people away from the classic and nostalgic music Bluegrass was derived from.
The Beginning Elements of Bluegrass Music
Bluegrass is a compilation of instruments and lyrics that are known to get you moving. Fast paced beats and foot tapping tune often take the stage at events and celebrations. There is a festive flair that offers a vibrant energy to any room you hear Bluegrass playing. If you think back to the Old-time music, you will hear a sensation of notes that are not accompanied by instruments through the entire song. The harmony was mostly vocal with the complements of a chosen rhythm piece or the dazzle of a chorus tone. You may be familiar with the famed “Man of Constant Sorrow” written by Burnett who was a blind fiddler from Kentucky. The songs most notable role was renditioned by the Soggy Bottom Boys in the popular film O’Brother Where Art thou which depicts a genuine sense of Old- time style.
As with several musical genres, Folk had a tremendous influence on Bluegrass. The tale of legends was strummed along with a symphonic vocal presence. This is where country music and Bluegrass tend to cross paths. Country is the songs of life and experiences. The focus stems on the story much like folk music. Old -time and Folk figuratively merged to produce country. Bluegrass adds an element from the music lineup that draws the separating lines.
A Third Element of Bluegrass
With Old-time tidings and a presentation of folk in its repertoire, bluegrass holds a third element that lets it stand alone in the crowd. Jazz has helped to develop and shape the music industry. From blues to the swinging songs we know and love, Jazz was an inspiration for Artists through history. It also has given Bluegrass the innovative edge that makes it a sensation. In the hills of the countryside, instruments were given a new kick that combined all three styles together. Blue grass is smart and soulful with plenty of stepping beats.
Country tells a story whereas bluegrass plays it. There is a heavier hand in instruments defining the sides of the two music genres. Bluegrass has Celtic ties that have come together in a modern musical society. If you listen closely, you can pick out where one legacy ends and the next of musical lore begins.