ABSTRACT

Bluegrass music emerged from a melding of musical forms circulating within the Appalachian mountain region around the turn of the 20th century. A novel invention at its inception, what came to be known as “bluegrass” by fans, performers, and the recording industry in the 1940s and 1950s grew out of traditional folk melodies and songs brought to Appalachia by settlers from the British Isles, Scotland, and Wales. Early pioneers of the genre like Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys blended these traditional sounds with church gospel vocal styling, and musical elements borrowed from popular modern styles as varied as blues, jazz, swing, big band, ragtime, and minstrel music. Over time, bluegrass evolved into a distinct, original form of “traditional” American string band music that flourished in the upland South and industrial cities of the North in the mid-20th century and continues to be performed and recorded by musicians around the world today.