Relations between place and music

What type of music you listen to or the type you are exposed to often depends most on where you are. Different physical and cultural regions all have varying musical preferences, and can heavily influence those who grow up in these areas. Even within genres we have sub-genres, that can often have distinct differences and very picky fan-bases. Differences in playing styles, popular instruments and other factors can change vastly, even if its just one valley over.

In class this week one of the main topics we discussed was background and “authenticity”. Bluegrass is considered an Appalachian tradition, but some of its founding fathers weren’t even from the area. Bluegrass players from western Kentucky, or even upstate New York could be found touring throughout the Appalachians attending festivals and recording sessions. Visiting bands from as far away as Japan would appear at the bluegrass festivals, to share their own interpretation and love of the music. This brought many people to ask; do you have to be from a certain place to be considered “bluegrass”? What do you have to do to be considered an “authentic bluegrass musician”?

While it is true that certain music is associated with certain cultural or regional backgrounds, you shouldn’t be limited or judged for the music you play just because you are different. Songwriters and performers produce music that people can enjoy, it shouldn’t be limited by needing a seal of approval for being “100% authentic”. Besides, one persons idea of an authentic sound could be completely different from mine or yours. Instead of focusing on where the music is coming from, look at what is saying and what the musicians are trying to convey.

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