Bluegrass music

Bluegrass is one of the most important American folk music styles and is part of the broad genre of country music. Most typical feature is the pure acoustic sound image, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, dobro, bass and possibly singing consists nowadays of banjo. The mandolin and guitar substituting the drums and create percussive "chop " Beats on the offbeat. The harmonies in the vocals are mostly guided closely in third - and fifth- harmonies. Here, the verse is alternately sung and played the solo instrument. Plays the mandolin solo, then takes on the fiddle or the banjo the task of Chop Beats.


The Bluegrass originated in the years 1937 to 1945 in the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee. At this time experimented mandolin player Bill Monroe with Old -Time Fiddle and hillbilly pieces, Anglo-American ballads, Afro-American dance music and traditional gospel harmony singing. He formed from an enriched Swing and blues elements form of country music.

Towards the end of this period, he hired the young banjo player Earl Scruggs, who had perfected the three- finger style of his home state of North Carolina to high speed and precision, thus significantly made ​​dynamic the band's sound. The band was called " Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys ," as reminiscent of the "Bluegrass State" of Kentucky. The term Bluegrass refers to the blue-green due to the nutrient- rich soil leaves of meadow bluegrass. The new style was therefore referred to by the media later than bluegrass.

The awareness of the Bluegrass Boys was increased by their appearances in the well audible, the weekly radio program " Grand Ole Opry " in Nashville Tennessee's capital city, at the Bill Monroe from 1939 until his death in 1996, remained a member. To her early repertoire included the " Muleskinner Blues" and later gecoverte by Elvis Presley " Blue Moon of Kentucky ".

With Bill Monroe's guitarist Lester Flatt Earl Scruggs in 1948 founded the Foggy Mountain Boys, which reached except with the then unparalleled Banjo innovations still with original texts and later also with the Dobro as a lead instrument broader audience circles and also the television audience.

More style- musicians of the Bluegrass of the early years were the banjo player Don Reno and the pairs of brothers Carter and Ralph Stanley, Bobby and Sonny Osborne, Jim and Jesse McReynolds and Hylo Brown and bands like the Timber liner.

Contemporary Bluegrass

At the end of the 1950s and beginning of the 1960s there has been an increase to performances by bluegrass bands at universities and at folk festivals such as the Newport, Rhode Iceland. Through these contacts, the more commercial and südstaatlich embossed Hillbillies with a hitherto by Alan Lomax, Charles Seeger or his sons Mike and Pete Seeger funded cultural music scene bluegrass grew not only a state wide market base, it also came to the influx of innovative younger musicians such as Byron Berline Bill Keith, Peter Rowan, Clarence White, Tony Rice and David Grisman.

Since the late 1960s, other musicians such as the Grateful Dead resort to the Bluegrass. This resulted in new styles such as jazz and Newgrass Grass. The early 1980s held Bluegrass in a poppier version and some with percussion accompaniment back stronger way into commercial country music, as the so-called Neo - traditionalism won influence. Since the turn of the century more, new bluegrass bands came on, like the Infamous Stringdusters who unite in their music and old-time and Americana. Since the late 90's also Dolly Parton turned increasingly to the Bluegrass.

The role of the five-string banjo in the bluegrass

The 5- String Banjo is the indispensable tool in all bluegrass bands. While most banjo players in Scruggs - style playing, are embedded in the melody notes in predominantly the background chord taken Fülltöne, was developed by Bill Keith and Bobby Thompson independently in the 60s, the so-called melodic style, in which all the notes played the melody or nuances the melody tones are. Today, outstanding musicians of this style is Béla Fleck.

Bluegrass Today

Bluegrass was the early nineties again popular; contributed to, among others, the soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? with. About Internet radio stations such as can hear the music world today. Since 1991, the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, which is operated by the International Bluegrass Music Association and stylistic influences on annual artist distinguished recording exists.

Important contemporary musicians of the genre ( in parenthesis reference CD ):