The Origin and History of Bluegrass Music

Blog - The Origin and History of Bluegrass Music

“Kentucky Waltz”, “Cabin on the Hill”, “White House Blues” and “Under the Double Eagle” – these are some your most favorite Bluegrass songs that make you want to dance to the strumming of the acoustic guitar.

Like other genres, bluegrass music has a very rich origin and history and has been an iconic symbol of American musical heritage. There are hundreds of Bluegrass artists and bands that showcase the uniqueness of bluegrass music.

What is Bluegrass Music?

Bluegrass music is a form of American country music that is influenced by Irish, Scottish, and English traditional music. Later on, it was incorporated with jazz elements influenced by African-American music. Bluegrass music can be subdivided into three – traditional, progressive and the neo-traditional.

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How did Bluegrass Music Start?

The earliest forms of musical genres were considered to be the roots of bluegrass music. In the 1600s, people from Ireland, Scotland, and England migrated to America and brought dance music and ballads. Settlers began to create music about their daily life experiences. This music is called “country music” or “mountain music”. With the invention of the phonograph in the 1900s, this country music had been showcased all over the United States.

Between the 1920s and 1930s, Monroe brothers were one of the most popular acts. Bill Monroe played the mandolin while Charlie Monroe played the guitar while they create music. However, they parted ways in 1938.

In 1939, Bill Monroe created a band called “Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys”. Blue Grass Boys were Monroe’s companions from his home state of Kentucky known as “Bluegrass state”. This band created a new form of traditional country music. They experimented with mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, and bass. They also explored various vocal selections. Their unique and powerful sound set their music apart from other musical genres.

Their first appearance was on the Grand Ole Opry stage in 1939. From then on, they became one of the most famous touring bands. In 1945, Earl Scruggs, a banjo player joined the band. His style complemented the music of Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys and widely known as “Scruggs style”. From then on, “bluegrass” music was invented. Bill Monroe was considered “the father of bluegrass music”.

gras - The Origin and History of Bluegrass Music

However, Scruggs departed from the band and joined Lester Flatt to create their own group called “The Foggy Mountain Boys”. They added the musical instrument Dobro into their band format. Dobro was invented by the Dopyera Brothers in the US and was widely known to be a major instrument in bluegrass music.

From 1958 to 1969, Flatt and Scruggs introduced bluegrass music to the whole United States through radio, national television, and major appearances in schoolhouses, coliseums, and universities.

In 1960, the “bluegrass festival” was created. In 1965, Carlton Haney, from Reidsville, North Carolina initiated a week-long bluegrass music festival held in Fincastle, Virginia.

Since then, bluegrass music was widely accepted by the people of the United States and has gained instant popularity around the world. Now, there is the International Bluegrass Music Association with bands and artists from over 30 countries across the globe.


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