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Bluegrass

Focus On: Bluegrass Music

The Daily Music Break will offer a page of links on various forms of music during 2013.

To kick it off, here is a basic overview of bluegrass music — courtesy of Wikipedia — and five additional links:

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of Appalachia.[1] It has mixed roots in ScottishIrish and English[2] traditional music, and also later influenced by the music of African-Americans[3] through incorporation of jazz elements.

Immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland arrived in Appalachia in the 18th century, and brought with them the musical traditions of their homelands. These traditions consisted primarily of English and Scottish ballads&—which were essentially unaccompanied narrative—and dance music, such as Irish reels, which were accompanied by a fiddle.[4] Many older Bluegrass songs come directly from the British Isles. Several Appalachian Bluegrass ballads, such as Pretty Saro,Barbara AllenCuckoo Bird and House Carpenter, come from England and preserve the English ballad tradition both melodically and lyrically.[5] Others, such as The Twa Sisters, also come from England; however, the lyrics are about Ireland.[6]Some Bluegrass fiddle songs popular in Appalachia, such as “Leather Britches”, and “Pretty Polly“, have Scottish roots.[7] The dance tune Cumberland Gap may be derived from the tune that accompanies the Scottish ballad Bonnie George Campbell.[8] Other songs have different names in different places; for instance in England there is an old ballad known as “A Brisk Young Sailor Courted Me“, but exactly the same song in North American Bluegrass is known as “I Wish My Baby Was Born”.[9] (Continue Reading…)

 

Here is Bill Monroe — the Father of Bluegrass Music — performing Uncle Pen.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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