Bluegrass bands feature a unique and historical slice of American fokelore, dating back to the 1800s. When people moved from their native countries to America in the early days of the country, and they brought their music with them.
Many of the mountain people who settled in West Virginia, Kentucky, and mountainous Virgina, brought their fiddles and their music. The banjo was added later, as it was an instrument invented by slaves in the deep south. The Mandolin was originally an Italian adaptation of the lute, and was first heard in America in New York, but eventually made its way to the hills and folk music.
Music was a way for people to express themselves thus was taken seriously as a fabric of the life that they lived. Times were never easy in the mountains, and the music reflected that. After the Civil war it was seen that the banjo had made its way into the mountain music scene, and in the teens and twenty’s in America the string bass was added.
Today, Bluegrass music is seen as an offshoot of country music, but in actuality, country music is probably an offshoot of bluegrass types of music.
Typical Bluegrass bands of today consist of a guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, and fiddle. The songs gravitate around a somewhat humorous, but riveting story about a lost love, a hard life, or just about anything that people have to go through to get on to the next phase.
Usually the songs are upbeat, with an occasional ballad depicting intrigue in love or in life. The peppy songs will have four part harmony, with renditions from each instrument included between choruses, then punctuated with a flurry of an ending.
The guitar, banjo and mandolin pickin’ is very rapid and engaging as the songs emphasize the uniqueness of life in the hills and mountains.