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Bluegrass: A Definition

Bluegrass is so much more than just a genre of music. As outlined in the Introductions and in “High Lonesome,” Bluegrass music is the voice of an entire region. Unlike today, when music preferences vary greatly between generations and genders and religions and races, Bluegrass in the 40’s and 50’s was the music. Parents, children, grandparents, neighbors, everyone listened to Bluegrass–and many people played. It was (and perhaps still is) the unifying characteristic of Appalachia. The distinct combination of banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, dobro, & fiddle made for a new and unusual sound in the 40’s, one only fitting for such an unique region. The genre was soon incorporated into Christianity with Bluegrass Gospel music. This music defined the people of Appalachia and their lives, unlike any music in today’s world. It described their pastimes, hardships, daily life, faith, family, and region. Bluegrass is not a genre of music; it is a culture.


1 comment to Bluegrass: A Definition

  • Harvey,

    I believe you have done a very good job defining bluegrass. I completely agree with your statement that bluegrass often defines the people that are playing it or listening to it. You also mention bluegrass being a culture, this has been represented throughout the readings and films. Bluegrass seems to not need a commercialized culture currently, it has its own devoted, tight-knit community. The only thing I see somewhat conflicting with your post is that bluegrass is now worldwide. The film hit on a movement into Japan along with California; however, I do agree with you that Appalachia is the home to bluegrass.


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