Folk Music Blue Grass History and Research Analysis
Named after Bill Monroes band The Blue Grass Boys, they brilliantly performed bluegrass music which is the fusion of American southern band music, blues, and country music. Bluegrass style, however, is distinguished by its high energy, upbeat sound, and high-pitched singing. The key instruments include a 5-string banjo, flat-top guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and bass. Moreover, they are traditionally acoustic with guitar and bass carrying the downbeat that provides a rhythmic foundation. Admittedly, each instrument takes its turn and plays a unique role in creating the melody while the others are complimenting. Such music contrasts with traditional folk music, where all instruments play the same melody. Conducting a detailed investigation of bluegrass, I will be visiting local venues to sample and analyze their work. This will allow to reach a better understanding how this kind of country music differentiates itsself from other folk genres.
It all started in 1948, when the world was awakening after the World War II and when the blues, mass, and country music genres urgently needed new forms of expression (Rosenberg, 2005). Besides, the roots of bluegrass can be found in Irish, Scottish, and even traditional English music. According to Cohen (2006), this genre is a unique companion of emigrants from British Islands and African countries. Hence, description of such unexpected combination vividly indicates why bluegrass genre greatly captured an attention of so many people at once.
One could not claim, however, that one person put great efforts to lay the foundation of jazz or blues, and bluegrass genre is not an exception. Notwithstanding the above-mentioned statement, many people consider Bill Monroe to be a father of this genre. To briefly characterize bluegrass genre, one should say that it is a soft combination of ragtime, jazz, and country folk music. Before the WWII Monroe started to launch his own musical band called The Blue Grass Boys that saw the world in 1939. Besides, the key event for the band was admition of Earl Scruggs to the band as he was marvelous performer and master of unique technique to play banjo (Rockwell,2012). . In the end of the 1940s, the rise of The Blue Grass Boys, this band created a completely unique sound and instrumental style which still serves as a prototype for many modern folk genres.
Basically, one can compare any music genre with a muscle to have strong and attractive body one should train hard, eat healthy food, and keep special diet. There were much risk a bluegrass genre would be forgotten, but musical festivals of the 1960s saved the situation. The one was organized for people who loved folk music and wanted to extand their knowledge about root American music of their homeland. Due to active developing of these musical festivals in the middle and in the end of the 1960s, the genre has not only remained popular but took its expansion for many countries.
However, bluegrass instruments is a chief aspect that makes bluegrass style recognizable among other musical styles. To be specific, bluegrass is a unique music style as it always has some lead instrument while others stay in the background. This feature distinguishes bluegrass genre from any other American root music where all the instruments play together at once or one instrument remains leading during the whole composition. Bluegrasss leading instruments take turns during the song up to 10 times.
Electrical instruments, unlike in modern country music, are very rarely used in this kind of country music in question. Basically, stringed instruments form the base of this musical genre. These are violin, acoustic guitar, five-stringed banjo, and double bass. Bluegrass musician can have up to 3 acoustic guitars or several basses to provide a divestiture in his performance, or one can sometimes meet a resonator guitar. (Rockwell, 2012). Additionally, some musical bans performimg in this genre also use accordion, rarely harmonica and piano. Moreover, as experimental performance, they use several pianos or percussion instruments.
Bluegrass Genre Exploring
Nowadays, bluegrass genre is widely popular and spread not only in the United States, but all over the world. However, it is one of those young and green music styles that had been born after the World War II and managed to gain respect from fans in numerous countries. As for my personal experience, I have attended local venues where audience had a unique opportunity to listen to such prominent musicians as Peter Mulvey and Dan Bakeslee and The Calabash Club. For instance, Mulvey is one of the most famous and active musicians of bluegrass genre. He started his career in the middle of the 1990s, and today he can boast of several critically acclaimed musical albums. On the whole, Peter made great efforts to get audience acquainted with bluegrass. He is actively developing a strong national genre that is related to American traditions and overall attitude to life. It is hard to overrate the performing skills of Peter Mulvey: while I was attending a local venue, I had a chance to listen to alive entertainment. Among my favorite commotions, one should pay attention to Lies You Forgot You Told and What Else Was It? To begin with, the first song is very exponential in the context of genre diversity. According to Rosenberg (2005), the majority of bluegrass folk music songs are aimed to bring people joy, happiness, and excellent mood. This intention, however, can be easily explained with time bluegrass genre was born: after the World War II everyone needed not only financial, but moral support. Many people found all these acpects in music and even nowadays they call music a phenomenon that helped them to overcome any struggle and challanges Bartenstein, 2012). The composition Lies You Forgot You Told is not a typical bluegrass song, as it is characterized by unusual compilation of fast and old-stylish motives which usually are inherent in bluegrass genre and modern musical combos. By and large, such unexpected and up-to-date experiments give a bluegrass genre a possibility to stay popular all over the world.( Batrenstein, 2012) The second song performed by Mulvey was What Else Was It? This composition seemed to be rather philosophical and decent, but I was even more surprised with improvisations and twists Peter used to make this song unique and not like any other compositions in bluegrass genre. In fact, it can be described in three words: philosophic, playful, and very gentle. To summarize Peter Mulvey performance, it was a great opportunity to get acquainted with a new trace of bluegrass genre music and feel that cozy atmosphere and quality live music. Thus, Mulvey's song are usually about compassion, relationships, and family. (Tunnel, 1992)
As for Dan Blakeslee, his song Picture in My Wallet literally captured my attention. In my judgment, it is a prominent, complex but at the same time simple composition and is valuable for many people. It has clearly demonstrated there are not only musicians in bluegrass genre, but poets and even singers. For example, Blakeslee, an author of his own songs, has a strong and leveled voice that helps him to make brilliant masterpiece compositions out of simple songs. To describe Blakeslees activity and songs, bluegrass genre is certainly lucky to get such talented author in the portfolio. Even though Blakeslee does not tend to contemporary or alternative music, he has an intention to save traditional roots in music, thus it is explained by a desire to save and translate the history of the country for the future generations. As for topics in his songs, this musician sings about love, justice, honor, and homeland.
One more marvelous performance was presented by The Calabash Club. Everything from the band's name and to the last musical note was about traditional bluegrass. While listening to this band, it was hard to stand, that is why everybody was dancing and singing with them. Obviously, one of the bands secrets is a professional and very talented front singer who leads with her enveloping voice. Without any exaggerations, The Calabash Club can be named as the most significant representative of the bluegrass style which is famous for its incendiary, cheerful, naughty motives and dizzying music that make people forget about any problems. This band generally sings about life, relationships, and funny things they met in life. (Tunnel, 1992)
Nowadays, it has hard to overage the bluegrass genre importance in the USA. This root genre of music presents a whole era that started in the 1940s. Judging from my own experience regarding bluegrass, I have learned that folk music can be different and can raise a variety of important topics. Personally, I admire this style of music very much. A diversity of musical instruments, a unique manner and techniques, great choice of themes for songs are just a few things I found appealing about this genre. Hence, this kind of country music has a mission to appreciate and save American history upon influence of modern music and popular culture. On the whole, it is quite successful in it.
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