Appreciating Classic Bluegrass Music

Appreciating Classic Bluegrass Music

Appreciating Classic Bluegrass Music

Bluegrass music draws its roots all the way back to mountain or country music, both of which were apt names for a genre that mostly developed from small towns, villages, and other rural regions. Besides country music, traditional or folk themes were also large influences on classic bluegrass artists. In order to fully appreciate the beauty and depth of the original tunes of bluegrass, one must identify the very forces that shaped them into what they are now.

Bill Monroe

Although it’s possible that there have been other artists before Bill Monroe that had played the same style of music which he was known for, the popularity of bluegrass music can be solely attributed to Bill Monroe. Music was in Monroe’s genes. His mother and maternal uncle, “Uncle Pen” and to whom he dedicated a song once, both instilled in the Monroe brothers a passion for music. At home, the family jammed together with Bill picking up the mandolin since his older brothers had already “first dibs” on the guitar and fiddle. But this would be a fortuitous incident in the end as Bill Monroe’s popularity was largely due to his virtuosity for playing the mandolin as well.

Monroe first appeared in the public eye as part of the Monroe Brothers. It was an act solely between Monroe and his older brother, Charlie, on the guitar. They enjoyed great success for over a decade before splitting to pursue their own musical careers.

It was then that Bill Monroe organized what would be the most famous bluegrass band of all, The Blue Grass Boys. Monroe and his band enjoyed a huge following on the Grand Ole Opry but the group was also active in other music scenes. They dabbled with experimental vocal styles, including duos, trios, and solo performances. It is all thanks to the Blue Grass Boys as well that the primary lineup for a bluegrass band was established, and this consisted of members playing the banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and guitar.

Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt

The pair was once a part of Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and they added a new flavor to the band’s music. It was around this time that Scruggs also became famous for his unique three-finger-picking method for playing the banjo. In 1948, the two parted ways with the Blue Grass Boys to form their own band, The Foggy Mountain Boys. The band was the first to introduce the use of the resonator guitar or Dobro in bluegrass music.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: