Old-time music

Old-time music

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Old-time music is a genre of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

, with roots in the folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 of many countries, including England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and countries in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. It developed along with various North American
North American
North American generally refers to an entity, people, group, or attribute of North America, especially of the United States and Canada together.-Culture:*North American English, a collective term used to describe American English and Canadian English...

 folk dance
Folk dance
The term folk dance describes dances that share some or all of the following attributes:*They are dances performed at social functions by people with little or no professional training, often to traditional music or music based on traditional music....

s, such as square dance
Square dance
Square dance is a folk dance with four couples arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, beginning with Couple 1 facing away from the music and going counter-clockwise until getting to Couple 4. Couples 1 and 3 are known as the head couples, while Couples 2 and 4 are the side couples...

, buck dance, and clogging
Clogging
Clogging is a type of folk dance with roots in traditional European dancing, early African-American dance, and traditional Cherokee dance in which the dancer's footwear is used musically by striking the heel, the toe, or both in unison against a floor or each other to create audible percussive...

. The genre also encompasses ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

s and other types of folk songs. It is played on acoustic instruments, generally centering on a combination of fiddle
Fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

 and plucked string instrument
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

s (most often the guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

 and banjo
Banjo
In the 1830s Sweeney became the first white man to play the banjo on stage. His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth-string. There is no proof, however, that Sweeney invented either innovation. This new...

).

History


Reflecting the cultures that settled North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, the roots of old-time music are in the traditional music
Traditional music
Traditional music is the term increasingly used for folk music that is not contemporary folk music. More on this is at the terminology section of the World music article...

s of the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

 (primarily English, Scottish and Irish). In some regions French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 sources are also prominent. While many dance tunes and ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

s can be traced to European sources, many others are of purely North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n origin.

The term "old-time"


With its origins in traditional music
Traditional music
Traditional music is the term increasingly used for folk music that is not contemporary folk music. More on this is at the terminology section of the World music article...

 of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, old-time music represents perhaps the oldest form of North American
North American
North American generally refers to an entity, people, group, or attribute of North America, especially of the United States and Canada together.-Culture:*North American English, a collective term used to describe American English and Canadian English...

 traditional music
Traditional music
Traditional music is the term increasingly used for folk music that is not contemporary folk music. More on this is at the terminology section of the World music article...

 other than Native American music
Native American music
American Indian music is the music that is used, created or performed by Native North Americans, specifically traditional tribal music. In addition to the traditional music of the Native American groups, there now exist pan-tribal and inter-tribal genres as well as distinct Indian subgenres of...

, and thus the term "old-time" is an appropriate one. As a label, however, it dates back only to 1923.

Fiddlin' John Carson
Fiddlin' John Carson
Fiddlin' John Carson was an American old time fiddler and an early-recorded country musician.-Early life:...

 made some of the first commercial recordings of traditional American country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 for the Okeh label. The recordings became hits. Okeh, which had previously coined the terms "hillbilly music" to describe Appalachia
Appalachian music
Appalachian music is the traditional music of the region of Appalachia in the Eastern United States. It is derived from various European and African influences, including English ballads, Irish and Scottish traditional music , religious hymns, and African-American blues...

n and Southern fiddle-based and religious music
Religious music
Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions'...

 and "race record
Race record
Race records were 78 rpm phonograph records marketed to African Americans during the early 20th century, particularly during the 1920s and 1930s. They primarily contained race music, comprising a variety of African American musical genres including blues, jazz, and gospel music, though comedy...

ing" to describe the music of African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 recording artists, began using "old-time music" as a term to describe the music made by artists of Carson's style. The term, thus, originated as a euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

, but proved a suitable replacement for other terms that were considered disparaging by many inhabitants of these regions. It remains the term preferred by performers and listeners of the music. It is sometimes referred to as "old-timey" or "mountain music" by long-time practitioners.

Other sources


During the late 19th and early 20th centuries minstrel
Minstrel show
The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface....

, Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century...

, gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

 and other popular music styles were incorporated into the genre. While similar music was played in all regions of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in the 18th and 19th centuries, in the 20th century it came to be associated primarily with the Appalachian region.

Revival


Important revivalists include Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger was an American folk musician and folklorist. He was a distinctive singer and an accomplished musician who played autoharp, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, mouth harp, mandolin, dobro, jaw harp, and pan pipes. Seeger, a half-brother of Pete Seeger, produced more than 30 documentary...

 and Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger
Peter "Pete" Seeger is an American folk singer and was an iconic figure in the mid-twentieth century American folk music revival. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead...

, who brought the music to New York City as early as the 1940s. The New Lost City Ramblers
New Lost City Ramblers
The New Lost City Ramblers is a contemporary old-time string band that formed in New York City in 1958 during the Folk Revival. The founding members of the Ramblers, or NLCR, are Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley...

 in particular took the revival across the country and often featured older musicians in their show. The band was originally Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger was an American folk musician and folklorist. He was a distinctive singer and an accomplished musician who played autoharp, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, mouth harp, mandolin, dobro, jaw harp, and pan pipes. Seeger, a half-brother of Pete Seeger, produced more than 30 documentary...

, John Cohen, and Tom Paley
Tom Paley
Tom Paley is an American guitarist, banjo and fiddle player. He is best known for his work with the New Lost City Ramblers in the 1950s and 1960s.-Biography:Paley was born and raised in New York City, United States...

. When Tom left the band, he was replaced by Tracy Schwarz. Many of the musicians on the scene now acknowledge that it was because of the New Lost City Ramblers that they became interested in old-timey music.

Instrumentation


Old-time music is played using a wide variety of stringed instruments. The instrumentation of an old-time group is often determined solely by what instruments are available, as well as by tradition. The most common instruments are acoustic string instrument
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

s. Historically, the fiddle
Fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

 was nearly always the leading melodic instrument, and in many instances (if no other instruments were available) dances were accompanied only by a single fiddler, who often also acted as dance caller.

By the early 19th century, the banjo
Banjo
In the 1830s Sweeney became the first white man to play the banjo on stage. His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth-string. There is no proof, however, that Sweeney invented either innovation. This new...

 (an instrument of West African origin originally played only by people of African descent, both enslaved and free) had become an essential partner to the fiddle, particularly in the southern United States. The banjo, originally a fretless instrument and frequently made from a gourd, played the same melody as the fiddle (though in a lower register), while simultaneously providing a rhythmic accompaniment incorporating a high drone provided by the instrument's short "drone string." The banjo used in old-time music is typically a 5-string model with an open back (i.e., without the resonator found on most bluegrass
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

 banjos).

Today old-time banjo players most commonly utilize the clawhammer
Clawhammer
Clawhammer is a highly rhythmic banjo playing style and common component of American old-time music. The principal difference between clawhammer style and other styles is the picking direction...

 style, but there were originally several other styles, most of which are still in use, loosely grouped by region. The major styles were clawhammer (which also went by a number of regional names), two-finger index lead (also called "North Carolina picking"), two-finger thumb lead (Kentucky and Eastern Tennessee), and a three-finger "fiddle style" that seems to have been influenced in part by late-19th century urban classical style. Generally, a young player would learn whatever style a parent or older sibling favored. This style of having a fiddle play the lead melody and a banjo play a rhythmic accompaniment is the most basic form of Appalachian old-time music, and is the instrumentation most Appalachian old-time musicians consider to be "classic."

Because playing with more fingers meant being able to put in more notes, three-finger styles intrigued many players. Individualistic three-finger styles were developed independently by such important figures as Uncle Dave Macon
Uncle Dave Macon
Uncle Dave Macon , born David Harrison Macon—also known as "The Dixie Dewdrop"—was an American banjo player, singer, songwriter, and comedian...

, Dock Boggs
Dock Boggs
Moran Lee "Dock" Boggs was an influential old-time singer, songwriter and banjo player. His style of banjo playing, as well as his singing, is considered a unique combination of Appalachian folk music and African-American blues...

, and Snuffy Jenkins
Snuffy Jenkins
DeWitt "Snuffy" Jenkins was an American old time banjo player and an early proponent of the three-finger banjo style.-Biography:...

. Those early three-finger styles, especially the technique developed by Jenkins, led in the 1940s to the three-finger Scruggs style
Scruggs style
Scruggs style is the most common style of playing the banjo in bluegrass music. It is a fingerpicking method, also known as three-finger style. It is named after Earl Scruggs, whose innovative approach and technical mastery of the instrument has influenced generations of bluegrass banjoists ever...

 created by Earl Scruggs
Earl Scruggs
Earl Eugene Scruggs is an American musician noted for perfecting and popularizing a 3-finger banjo-picking style that is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music...

 and which helped advance the split between old-time and the solo-centric style that would become known as bluegrass. Jenkins developed a three-finger "roll" that, while obviously part of the old-time tradition, inspired Scruggs to develop his smoother, faster, more complex rolls that are now standard fare in bluegrass music
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, other stringed instruments began to be added to the fiddle-banjo duo; these included the guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

, mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

, and double bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

 (or washtub bass
Washtub bass
The washtub bass, or "gutbucket", is a stringed instrument used in American folk music that uses a metal washtub as a resonator. Although it is possible for a washtub bass to have four or more strings and tuning pegs, traditional washtub basses have a single string whose pitch is adjusted by...

), which provided chordal and bass line accompaniment (or occasionally melody also). This, along with a Dobro
Dobro
Dobro is a registered trademark, now owned by Gibson Guitar Corporation and used for a particular design of resonator guitar.The name has a long and involved history, interwoven with that of the resonator guitar...

® (resonator guitar
Resonator guitar
A resonator guitar or resophonic guitar is an acoustic guitar whose sound is produced by one or more spun metal cones instead of the wooden sound board . Resonator guitars were originally designed to be louder than conventional acoustic guitars which were overwhelmed by horns and percussion...

), is also considered to be 'standard' bluegrass instrumentation, but old-time music tends to focus on sparser instrumentation and arrangements as compared to bluegrass. Such an assemblage, of whatever instrumentation, became known simply as a "string band
String band
A string band is an old-time music or jazz ensemble made up mainly or solely of string instruments. String bands were popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and are among the forerunners of modern country music and bluegrass.-String bands in old-time music:...

." Occasionally the cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

, piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

, hammered dulcimer
Hammered dulcimer
The hammered dulcimer is a stringed musical instrument with the strings stretched over a trapezoidal sounding board. Typically, the hammered dulcimer is set on a stand, at an angle, before the musician, who holds small mallet hammers in each hand to strike the strings...

, Appalachian dulcimer
Appalachian dulcimer
The Appalachian dulcimer is a fretted string instrument of the zither family, typically with three or four strings. It is native to the Appalachian region of the United States...

, tenor banjo, tenor guitar
Tenor guitar
1932 Martin 0-18 T Sunburst Tenor Guitar|thumb|rightThe tenor guitar or four-string guitar is a slightly smaller, four-string relative of the steel-string acoustic guitar or electric guitar. The instrument was developed so that players of the four-string tenor banjo could double on the guitar...

, mouth bow
Musical bow
The musical bow is a simple string musical instrument most archaic cultures as well as in many in the present day. It consisting of a string supported by a flexible stick 1.5 to 10 feet long, and strung end to end with a taut cord. Usually made out of wood...

, or other instruments have been used, as well as such non-string instruments as the jug
Jug (musical instrument)
The jug as a musical instrument reached its height of popularity in the 1920s, when jug bands, such as Cannon's Jug Stompers were popular. The jug is just that: an empty jug played with the mouth...

, harmonica
Harmonica
The harmonica, also called harp, French harp, blues harp, and mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used primarily in blues and American folk music, jazz, country, and rock and roll. It is played by blowing air into it or drawing air out by placing lips over individual holes or multiple holes...

, jaw harp, concertina
Concertina
A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It has a bellows and buttons typically on both ends of it. When pressed, the buttons travel in the same direction as the bellows, unlike accordion buttons which travel perpendicularly to it...

, accordion
Accordion
The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist....

, washboard
Washboard
A washboard is a tool designed for hand washing clothing. With mechanized cleaning of clothing becoming more common by the end of the 20th century, the washboard has become better known for its originally subsidiary use as a musical instrument....

, spoons, or bones
Bones (instrument)
The bones are a musical instrument which, at the simplest, consists of a pair of animal bones, or pieces of wood or a similar material. Sections of large rib bones and lower leg bones are the most commonly used true bones, although wooden sticks shaped like the earlier true bones are now more...

.

The fiddle is sometimes played by two people at the same time, with one player using the bow and fingers, while another player stands to the side and taps out a rhythm on the fiddle strings using small sticks called fiddlesticks
Fiddlesticks (musical instrument)
Fiddlesticks are traditional instruments used to add percussion to old-time and Cajun fiddle music, allowing two persons to play the fiddle at the same time...

 (also spelled "fiddle sticks"). This technique (also sometimes called "beating the straws") is utilized in performance most notably by the duo of Al and Emily Cantrell.

Each regional old-time tradition accompanies different dance styles. Some of these include clogging
Clogging
Clogging is a type of folk dance with roots in traditional European dancing, early African-American dance, and traditional Cherokee dance in which the dancer's footwear is used musically by striking the heel, the toe, or both in unison against a floor or each other to create audible percussive...

 and flatfoot dancing (Appalachia), contradancing (New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

), square dancing
Square dance
Square dance is a folk dance with four couples arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, beginning with Couple 1 facing away from the music and going counter-clockwise until getting to Couple 4. Couples 1 and 3 are known as the head couples, while Couples 2 and 4 are the side couples...

 (Southern states) and step dancing
Step dance
Step dance is the generic term for dance styles where the footwork is the most important part of the dance. Body and arm movements and styling are either restricted or considered irrelevant.Step dance is one end of a spectrum of dance styles...

 (Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, particularly Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

), though there is some overlap between regions.

Regional styles


There are numerous regional styles of old-time music, each with its own repertoire and playing style. Nevertheless, some tunes (such as "Soldier's Joy") are found in nearly every regional style, though played somewhat differently in each.

Appalachia


N.B
Nota Bene
Nota bene is an Italian and Latin phrase meaning "note well". The phrase first appeared in writing circa 1721.Often abbreviated as "N. B.", nota bene comes from the Latin roots notāre and bene . It is in the singular imperative mood, instructing one individual to note well the matter at hand...

.: This section applies primarily to the "Southern Appalachian" region of the United States (the Central Appalachians being in the northeastern U.S. and the Northern Appalachians stretching into Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

).


Appalachia
Appalachia
Appalachia is a term used to describe a cultural region in the eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York state to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in the U.S...

n folk music is a distinctive genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 of folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

. It is believed to have developed from traditional Scottish
Music of Scotland
Scotland is internationally known for its traditional music, which has remained vibrant throughout the 20th century, when many traditional forms worldwide lost popularity to pop music...

, English
Music of England
Folk music of England refers to various types of traditionally based music, often contrasted with courtly, classical and later commercial music, for which evidence exists from the later medieval period. It has been preserved and transmitted orally, through print and later through recordings...

 and Irish music
Music of Ireland
Irish Music is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres on the island of Ireland.The indigenous music of the island is termed Irish traditional music. It has remained vibrant through the 20th, and into the 21st century, despite globalizing cultural forces...

 brought to the United States by immigrants from those countries and in turn it influenced country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 and old-time music.

As a result the terrain of the region, the societies and cultures were fairly isolated from outside intervention. In 1916 Cecil Sharp
Cecil Sharp
Cecil James Sharp was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early 20th century, and many of England's traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them.-Early life:Sharp was born in Camberwell, London, the eldest son of...

 arrived in Appalachia and began recording the folk songs on the Mountains. Sharp, an authority on British ballads was able to identify 1,600 versions of 500 songs from 281 singers, almost all having their origins in the English/Scottish Child Ballads
Child Ballads
The Child Ballads are a collection of 305 ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, collected by Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century...

. After his first study in Appalachia, he published English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. Some examples of songs preserved in the Appalachian Mountains and recorded by Sharp include, “The Hangman Song”, “Barbara Allen”, etc. The primary sources for many of Sharp's recordings came from a string of related families around Shelton Laurel, NC. Of note is the fact that these families maintained a specific, unique vocal tradition and traditional English lyrical pronunciations across several generations, until gaining fame in the 1960's and 1970's through similar field recordings completed by John Cohen. These records featured Dillard Chandler, Berzilla Wallin (recorded by Sharp) and Dellie Norton. Relatives of those individuals continue to keep this unique vocal style alive to this day.

A Scottish fiddler named Niel Gow
Niel Gow
Niel Gow was the most famous Scottish fiddler and dancie of the eighteenth century.-Biography:...

 (note the unorthodox spelling) is usually credited with developing (during the 1740s) the short bow sawstroke technique that defines Appalachian fiddling. This technique was altered during the next century, with European waltz
Waltz
The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.- History :There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim...

es and polka
Polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

s being most influential.

African Americans, who were not only slaves but also free blacks working in timber, coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

, and other industries at the time in the region, considerably influenced Appalachian music. One notable example of it can be seen in instrumentation: the banjo was adopted from African Americans by white musicians (such as Joel Walker Sweeney) in the years leading up to the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. From the mid-19th century the banjo was the most widely played stringed instrument in America. Even into the early 20th century, it was common for young white musicians to have learned the banjo or other instruments from older African American musicians living in their area. Their influence can also be felt in the ornamentation of old-time music which includes the third and seventh blue notes, and sliding tones
Glissando
In music, a glissando is a glide from one pitch to another. It is an Italianized musical term derived from the French glisser, to glide. In some contexts it is distinguished from the continuous portamento...

. Sliding tones are not found in British Isles folk music outside of certain styles of Irish music, whose influence on Appalachian music is considered minimal (this may be indicative of parallel evolution since the early Appalachian settlers were generally not of Irish extraction -- evidenced by the fact that a major constituent of the Appalachian settlers were of Scotch-Irish extraction).

Appalachian folk became a major influence on styles like country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 and bluegrass
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

. It is one of the few regional styles of old-time music that, since World War II, has been learned and widely practiced in all areas of the United States and Canada (as well as in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere). In some cases (as in the Midwest and Northeast), its popularity has eclipsed the indigenous old-time traditions of these regions. There is a particularly high concentration of performers playing Appalachian folk music on the East and West Coasts (especially in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Pacific Northwest). A number of American classical composers, in particular Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario. His contribution to the world of music was summed up by Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s:...

 and Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers"...

, have composed works that merge the idioms of Appalachian folk music with the Old World–based classical tradition.

Appalachian old-time music is itself made up of regional traditions. Some of the most prominent traditions include those of Mount Airy
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Mount Airy is a city in Surry County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,388.-History:Mount Airy was settled in the 1750s as a stagecoach stop on the road between Winston-Salem and Galax, Virginia. It was named for a nearby plantation...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 (specifically the Round Peak
Round Peak, North Carolina
Round Peak is a small unincorporated community in Surry County, North Carolina, United States, near Mount Airy, North Carolina with an elevation of 1,280 feet...

 style of Tommy Jarrell
Tommy Jarrell
Tommy Jarrell was an American fiddler, banjo player, and singer from the Mount Airy region of North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains.-Biography:...

) and Grayson County
Grayson County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 17,917 people, 7,259 households, and 5,088 families residing in the county. The population density was 40 people per square mile . There were 9,123 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile...

/Galax
Galax, Virginia
Galax is an independent city in the southwestern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is bounded to the northeast by Carroll County and to the southwest by Grayson County. The population was 7,042 as of 2010...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 (Wade Ward
Wade Ward
-External links:...

 and Albert Hash), West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 (the Hammons Family), Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Mountain Coal Fields
The Eastern Mountain Coal Fields is part of the Central Appalachian bituminous coal field, covering all or parts of 30 Kentucky counties and adjoining areas in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. It covers an area from the Allegheny Mountains in the east across the Cumberland Plateau and...

 (J. P. Fraley and Lee Sexton), and East Tennessee
East Tennessee
East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely...

 (Roan Mountain Hilltoppers).

The banjo player and fiddler Bascom Lamar Lunsford
Bascom Lamar Lunsford
Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a lawyer, folklorist, and performer of traditional music from western North Carolina. He was often known by the nickname "Minstrel of the Appalachians."- Early life :...

, a native of the North Carolina mountains, collected much traditional music during his lifetime, also founding the old-time music festival in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The City is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center , which is the world's largest active...

. Notable North Carolina traditional banjo players and makers include Frank Proffitt, Frank Proffitt, Jr. and Stanley Hicks, who all learned to make and play fretless mountain banjos from a family tradition. These players, among others, learned their art primarily from family and show fewer traces of influence from commercial hillbilly recordings. The Proffitts and Hicks were heirs to a centuries-old folk tradition, and through the middle to late 20th century and they continued to perform in a style older than the stringbands often associated with old time music. Their style has been recently emulated by contemporary musician Tim Eriksen
Tim Eriksen
Tim Eriksen is an American musician, musicologist, and professor. He is the leader of the band Cordelia's Dad, a solo artist, and was a performer and consultant for the award-winning soundtrack of the film Cold Mountain.-Cordelia's Dad:...

.

Old-time music has also been adopted by a few Native American musicians; the eminent Walker Calhoun of Big Cove, in the Qualla Boundary
Qualla Boundary
The Qualla Boundary is the territory where the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reside in western North Carolina.-Location:...

 (home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians , is a federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States of America, who are descended from Cherokee who remained in the Eastern United States while others moved, or were forced to relocate, to the west in the 19th century. The history of the...

, just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

 in western North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

) plays three-finger-style banjo, to which he sings in the Cherokee language
Cherokee language
Cherokee is an Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people which uses a unique syllabary writing system. It is the only Southern Iroquoian language that remains spoken. Cherokee is a polysynthetic language.-North American etymology:...

.

New England


The New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 states, being among the first to be settled by Europeans, have one of the oldest traditions of old-time music. Although the Puritans (the first Europeans to settle in the region), frowned upon instrumental music, dance music flourished in both urban and rural areas beginning in the 17th century. Primary instruments include the fiddle, piano, and guitar, with the wooden flute sometimes also used. As with Appalachian folk, a number of classical composers have turned to New England folk music for melodic and harmonic ideas, most famously Charles Ives
Charles Ives
Charles Edward Ives was an American modernist composer. He is one of the first American composers of international renown, though Ives' music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Over time, Ives came to be regarded as an "American Original"...

, as well as Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers"...

, William Schuman
William Schuman
William Howard Schuman was an American composer and music administrator.-Life:Born in Manhattan in New York City to Samuel and Rachel Schuman, Schuman was named after the twenty-seventh U.S. president, William Howard Taft, although his family preferred to call him Bill...

, and John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

, among others. Rhythmically, this style is more diverse than most southern old time, featuring schottische
Schottische
The schottische is a partnered country dance, that apparently originated in Bohemia. It was popular in Victorian era ballrooms as a part of the Bohemian folk-dance craze and left its traces in folk music of countries such as Argentina , Finland , France, Italy, Norway , Portugal and Brazil , Spain ...

s, hornpipe
Hornpipe
The term hornpipe refers to any of several dance forms played and danced in Britain and elsewhere from the late 17th century until the present day. It is said that hornpipe as a dance began around the 16th century on English sailing vessels...

s, and waltz
Waltz
The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.- History :There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim...

es in addition to reel
Reel
A reel is an object around which lengths of another material are wound for storage. Generally a reel has a cylindrical core and walls on the sides to retain the material wound around the core...

s.

Midwest


Beginning in the early 19th century, when the Midwestern states were first settled by immigrants from the eastern United States and Europe, the Midwest developed its own regional styles of old-time music. Among these, the Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 style is of particular interest for its energetic bowing style.

The region of central and southern Illinois has its own distinct style and repertoire of old-time music as well.

In the Upper Midwest, especially Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, old-time music most typically refers to a mixture of Scandinavian styles, especially Norwegian
Music of Norway
Music based on traditional Norwegian form usually includes minor or modal scales , making a sober and haunting sound. Pure major key dance music forms also exist. Prior to the 18th century, there is scant written record of what kind of music was played in Norway, but there is a large aural tradition...

 and Swedish
Music of Sweden
Sweden shares the tradition of Nordic folk dance music with its neighboring countries including polka, schottische, waltz, polska and mazurka. The accordion, clarinet, fiddle and nyckelharpa are among the most common Swedish folk instruments. This instrumental genre is the biggest one in Swedish...

.

The non-Appalachian South


The Southern states (particularly coastal states such as Virginia and North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

) also have one of the oldest traditions of old-time music in the United States.

It is in this region that the music of Africa mixed most strongly with that of the British Isles. Records show that many African slaves (some of whom had been musicians in Africa or the Caribbean, where they had lived prior to the United States) were talented musicians, playing, as early as the 18th century, instruments such as the fiddle, banjo, and piano. Slave documents and advertisements of the time often listed musical abilities of individual African slaves as a selling point, as slaves were frequently asked to perform for their masters.

The banjo, an essential instrument for Southern and Appalachian old-time music, is believed to have derived from a West African skin-covered lute; such instruments (generally with four strings) are still played today in Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

, Gambia, Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

, and Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

, where they are called ngoni, xalam
Xalam
Xalam, also spelled khalam, is the Wolof name for a traditional stringed musical instrument from West Africa. The xalam is thought to have originated from modern-day Mali, but some believe that, in antiquity, the instrument may have originated from ancient Egypt...

, akonting
Akonting
The akonting is the folk lute of the Jola people, found in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau in West Africa...

, or various other names.

States of the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

 such as Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, and Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 also have their own regional old-time music traditions and repertoires, as does the Ozark Mountains region of Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 and Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

. Premier old time banjoist Bob Carlin has authored String Bands in the North Carolina Piedmont with a focus on non-Appalachian styles in that state. While the music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 of the Louisiana Cajun
Cajun
Cajuns are an ethnic group mainly living in the U.S. state of Louisiana, consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles...

s has much in common with other North American old-time traditions it is generally treated as a tradition unto itself and not referred to as a form of old-time music.

Texas and the West


Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 developed a distinctive twin-fiddling tradition that was later popularized by Bob Wills
Bob Wills
James Robert Wills , better known as Bob Wills, was an American Western Swing musician, songwriter, and bandleader, considered by music authorities as the co-founder of Western Swing and universally known as the pioneering King of Western Swing.Bob Wills' name will forever be associated with...

 as Western swing
Western swing
Western swing music is a subgenre of American country music that originated in the late 1920s in the West and South among the region's Western string bands...

 music. Fiddle music has also been popular since the 19th century in other Western states such as Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

 and Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

. The National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest has been held each year in Weiser
Weiser, Idaho
Weiser is a city in the rural western part of the U.S. state of Idaho and the county seat of Washington County. With its mild climate, the city supports farm, orchard, and livestock endeavors in the vicinity. The city sits at the confluence of the Weiser River with the great Snake River, which...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

 since 1953.

Oklahoma, with its high concentration of Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 inhabitants, has produced some Native American old-time string bands, most notably Big Chief Henry's Indian String Band
Big Chief Henry's Indian String Band
Big Chief Henry's Indian String Band was a Choctaw Indian string band from Oklahoma, United States. The band was composed of members of the Hall family—Henry, father, on vocals and fiddle; and sons Clarence on guitar and Harold on banjo. They played from Wichita, Kansas.H. C...

 (consisting of Henry Hall, fiddle; Clarence Hall, guitar; and Harold Hall, banjo and voice), which was recorded by H. C. Speir
H. C. Speir
H. C. Speir was an American "talent broker" and record store owner from Jackson, Mississippi. He was responsible for launching the recording careers of most of the greatest Mississippi blues musicians in the 1920s and 1930s. It has been said that, “Speir was the godfather of Delta Blues" and was...

 for the Victor
Victor Talking Machine Company
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey....

 company in 1929.

Canada


Among the prominent styles of old-time music in Canada are the Scottish-derived tradition of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 (particularly Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

), the French Canadian
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 music of Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 and Acadia
Acadia
Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine. At the end of the 16th century, France claimed territory stretching as far south as...

, the old-time music of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, and the prairie fiddling traditions of the central-western provinces
Western Canada
Western Canada, also referred to as the Western provinces and commonly as the West, is a region of Canada that includes the four provinces west of the province of Ontario.- Provinces :...

. It is here (primarily in Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

) that the fiddle tradition of the Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

 people is found. The traditional folk music
Music of Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is an Atlantic Canadian province with a folk musical heritage based on the Irish, English and Scottish traditions that were brought to its shores centuries ago...

 of Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

, though similar in some ways to that of the rest of Atlantic Canada
Atlantic Canada
Atlantic Canada is the region of Canada comprising the four provinces located on the Atlantic coast, excluding Quebec: the three Maritime provinces – New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia – and Newfoundland and Labrador...

, has a distinct style of its own, and is generally considered a separate genre.

Contemporary musicians


The current old-time music scene is alive and well, sparked since 2000 by the combined exposure resulting from several prominent films, more accessible depositories of source material, and the work of a few of touring bands, including: The Wilders, Uncle Earl
Uncle Earl
Uncle Earl is an American old-time music group, formed in 2000 by KC Groves and Jo Serrapere. They are an all-women-band and often they refer to themselves as the g'Earls. Their fans have also been nicknamed as g'Earlfriends....

, The Water Tower Bucket Boys
The Water Tower Bucket Boys
The Water Tower Bucket Boys are a bluegrass and old-time band from Portland, Oregon. They formed in 2005 and have self released four albums. Their most recent album Sole Kitchen was produced and recorded by Mike Herrera of Tumbledown and MxPx and features all original songs, including Blackbird...

 and Old Crow Medicine Show
Old Crow Medicine Show
Old Crow Medicine Show is an old-time string band based in Nashville, Tennessee. Their music has been called bluegrass, Americana, and alt-country, in addition to old-time. Along with original songs, the band performs many pre-World War II blues and folk songs...

.

A new generation of old-time musicians perform solo acts all over the country, including: Brad Leftwich
Brad Leftwich
Brad Leftwich is a prominent American old-time fiddle and banjo player and teacher. He is originally from Oklahoma.Leftwich was a founding member of the Plank Road String Band in the mid-1970s...

, Old Man Luedecke
Old Man Luedecke
Old Man Luedecke is the recording name of Juno Award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and banjo player, Chris Luedecke, of Chester, Nova Scotia...

, Bruce Molsky
Bruce Molsky
Bruce C. Molsky is an American fiddler, banjo player, guitarist, and singer. He primarily performs old-time music of the Appalachian region.Molsky was born in 1955 at New York Infirmary in Manhattan, and grew up in The Bronx...

, Rayna Gellert
Rayna Gellert
Rayna Gellert is an American fiddler and singer specializing in old-time music. She grew up in Elkhart, in northern Indiana. Her father is the traditional fiddler and banjo player Dan Gellert. Originally a classically-trained violinist, she took up the old-time fiddle in 1994, when she moved to...

, Riley Baugus
Riley Baugus
Riley Baugus is an American old-time guitarist, banjo player, fiddler, singer and instrument builder from North Carolina.-Background and Career:...

, Leroy Troy
Leroy Troy
Leroy Troy is a banjo player from Goodlettsville, Tennessee. His banjo style is the clawhammer or frailing style, distinct from more commonly found Scruggs style banjo playing in modern bluegrass. He often performs humorous or comedy songs from the old-time music genre...

, and Putnam Smith as well as guitarist/singers Alice Gerrard
Alice Gerrard
Alice Gerrard is an American bluegrass singer, banjoist, and guitar player. She performed in a duo with Hazel Dickens and as part of The Back Creek Buddies with Matokie Slaughter....

 and Martha Scanlan
Martha Scanlan
Martha Scanlan is a bluegrass singer-songwriter. She is originally from Minnesota and has been featured on the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour and the Cold Mountain soundtrack .-External links:* *...

. The Appalachian dulcimer is re-emerging as a key instrument for old-time music, thanks to the influence of musicians such as David Schnaufer
David Schnaufer
David Schnaufer was an American folk musician. He is widely credited with restoring the popularity of the Appalachian dulcimer....

 and Stephen Seifert
Stephen Seifert
Stephen Seifert is an American folk musician and virtuoso of the Appalachian dulcimer. He has released many educational DVDs and videos on the subject of dulcimer playing.-References:...

. Family bands, such as The Martin Family Band, from Maryland, are continuing the traditions of old time music played on fiddle, banjo, lap dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, piano, guitar, bass and percussion. The Carolina Chocolate Drops
Carolina Chocolate Drops
The Carolina Chocolate Drops is an old-time string band from Durham, North Carolina, United States. Its 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, and was number 9 in FRoots magazine's top 10 albums of 2010.The Drops are one...

 directly address the lost tradition of black stringband music.

Living elders of the music include Chester McMillian of Mount Airy, North Carolina
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Mount Airy is a city in Surry County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,388.-History:Mount Airy was settled in the 1750s as a stagecoach stop on the road between Winston-Salem and Galax, Virginia. It was named for a nearby plantation...

, Lee Sexton of Line Fork, Kentucky, Paul David Smith of Kentucky, Clyde Davenport
Clyde Davenport
Clyde Davenport is an old-time fiddler and banjo player from Monticello, Kentucky.-External links:...

 of Monticello, Kentucky
Monticello, Kentucky
Monticello is a city in Wayne County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 5,981 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Wayne County. It advertises itself as "The Houseboat Capital of the World" due to the large number of houseboat manufacturers in the city...

 and Lester McCumbers
Lester McCumbers
Lester McCumbers is an old-time fiddler from Nicut, West Virginia. His students include Erynn Marshall and Jake Krack.He also makes fiddles, sometimes using local woods....

 of Nicut, Calhoun County, West Virginia.

Festivals


Prominent old-time music festivals (some of which also include bluegrass, dance, and other related arts) include the Old Fiddler's Convention in Galax, Virginia (established 1935), the West Virginia State Folk Festival in Glenville, WV (established 1950), the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention
Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention
The Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention is a popular festival devoted to old-time and bluegrass music, as well as related arts such as dance, which takes place each summer at Veterans Memorial Park in Mount Airy, North Carolina, United States. It was established in 1972. It is held on the first weekend...

 in Mount Airy, North Carolina (established 1972), the Vandalia Gathering
Vandalia Gathering
The Vandalia Gathering is a popular festival devoted to old-time and bluegrass music, as well as related arts such as dance, quilt making, and cooking, which takes place each summer on the state capitol grounds in Charleston, West Virginia, United States. It was established in 1977. It is held on...

 in Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers in Kanawha County. As of the 2010 census, it has a population of 51,400, and its metropolitan area 304,214. It is the county seat of Kanawha County.Early...

 (established 1977), and the Appalachian String Band Music Festival
Appalachian String Band Music Festival
The Appalachian String Band Music Festival is a weeklong gathering of thousands of string band musicians and their friends from across the country and around the world, who each year since 1990 have assembled near the New River Gorge in West Virginia in late July/early August to celebrate the...

 in Clifftop, Fayette County, West Virginia
Clifftop, Fayette County, West Virginia
Clifftop is an unincorporated community in Fayette County, West Virginia, United States.It is the home of historic Camp Washington-Carver, which hosts the Appalachian String Band Music Festival the first weekend in August....

 (established 1990).
National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest, Weiser, Idaho held the third week of June

Old-time music as dance music


Because old-time fiddle-based string band music is often played for dances, it is often characterized as dance music. However, there are also long-standing traditions of solo listening pieces as well as fiddle songs, such as those that have been documented in West Virginia by Erynn Marshall in Music in the Air Somewhere: The Shifting Borders of West Virginia's Fiddle and Song Traditions (WVU Press, 2006). In dance music as played by old-time string bands, emphasis is placed on providing a strong beat, and instrumental solos, or breaks, are rarely taken. This contrasts with bluegrass music
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

 which was developed in the 1940s as a form of concert music. Bluegrass music, however, developed from old-time music, and shares many of the same songs and instruments, but is more oriented toward solo performance than is old-time music.

While in the British Isles reels
Reel (dance)
The reel is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type. In Scottish country dancing, the reel is one of the four traditional dances, the others being the jig, the strathspey and the waltz, and is also the name of a dance figure ....

 and jig
Jig
The Jig is a form of lively folk dance, as well as the accompanying dance tune, originating in England in the 16th century and today most associated with Irish dance music and Scottish country dance music...

s both remain popular, the reel is by far the predominant metric structure preferred by old-time musicians in the United States (though a few hornpipe
Hornpipe
The term hornpipe refers to any of several dance forms played and danced in Britain and elsewhere from the late 17th century until the present day. It is said that hornpipe as a dance began around the 16th century on English sailing vessels...

s are also still performed). Canadian musicians, particularly in the Maritime
Maritimes
The Maritime provinces, also called the Maritimes or the Canadian Maritimes, is a region of Eastern Canada consisting of three provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. On the Atlantic coast, the Maritimes are a subregion of Atlantic Canada, which also includes the...

 provinces where the Scottish influence is strong, perform both reels and jigs (as well as other types of tunes such as marches
March (music)
A march, as a musical genre, is a piece of music with a strong regular rhythm which in origin was expressly written for marching to and most frequently performed by a military band. In mood, marches range from the moving death march in Wagner's Götterdämmerung to the brisk military marches of John...

 and strathspeys
Strathspey (dance)
A strathspey is a type of dance tune in 4/4 time. It is similar to a hornpipe but slower and more stately, and contains many dot-cut 'snaps'. A so-called Scotch snap is a short note before a dotted note, which in traditional playing is generally exaggerated rhythmically for musical expression...

).

Learning old-time music


Players traditionally learn old-time music by ear; even musicians who can read music. A broad selection of written music does exist, although many believe that the style of old-time music cannot be practically notated by written music. This is in part because there are many regional and local variations to old-time tunes, and because some of the most noted players often improvised and wouldn't play a tune exactly the same way every time.

Players usually learn old-time music by attending local jam sessions and by attending festivals scattered around the country. With the spread of broad-band Internet, more and more old-time recordings are available via small publishers, boutique Web sites, Internet streaming audio ("Web radio"), and small Web sites making the music more accessible.

Although it is one of the oldest and most prominent forms of traditional music in the United States and Canada, old-time music (with a few notable exceptions) is generally not taught in North American primary schools, secondary schools, or universities. Although square dancing is still occasionally taught in elementary schools (generally with recorded, rather than live music), old-time instruments and dances are not included in the educational system, and must be studied outside the school system.

There are, however a growing number of folk music schools in the United States, usually non-profit community based, that have taken up the mantle of providing instruction in old-time music. The Old Town School of Folk Music
Old Town School of Folk Music
The Old Town School of Folk Music is a Chicago teaching and performing institution that launched the careers of many notable folk music artists...

 in Chicago, Illinois is perhaps the oldest of these, having begun in 1957. The Folk School of St. Louis, Missouri is one of the many newer schools having opened its doors in 2002 after the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 comedy film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning. Set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the film's story is a modern satire loosely...

caused an increase in people from urban areas wanting to learn old-time music. These schools and the subsequent music communities that spring from them offer a positive trend in keeping old-time music alive. Also, universities such as Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known primarily as a school for jazz, rock and popular music, it also offers college-level courses in a wide range of contemporary and historic styles, including hip...

 and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro , also known as UNC Greensboro, is a public university in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States and is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system. The university offers more than 100 undergraduate, 61 master's and 26...

 have "Old Time Ensembles" to teach and keep Old Time music alive.

There are a variety of programs, mostly in the summer, such as the Augusta Heritage Festival
Augusta Heritage Festival
Augusta Heritage Festival is a music and heritage festival held each summer at the Davis and Elkins College, Elkins, West Virginia.Over 20 years old, this five week festival covers music, dance and crafts relating to 10+ themes.These themes include:...

 or the Appalachian String Band Music Festival
Appalachian String Band Music Festival
The Appalachian String Band Music Festival is a weeklong gathering of thousands of string band musicians and their friends from across the country and around the world, who each year since 1990 have assembled near the New River Gorge in West Virginia in late July/early August to celebrate the...

, that offer week-long immersions in old-time music and dance. These camps are family friendly and allow beginners to enter into the tradition and more advanced players to hone their sound with instruction from some of the best in the music.

See also

  • Bluegrass music
    Bluegrass music
    Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

  • Folk music
    Folk music
    Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

  • Old-time bands
  • Old-time musicians
  • The Fiddler's Fakebook
    The Fiddler's Fakebook
    The Fiddler's Fakebook, by David Brody, is a collection of fiddle tunes in lead sheet form It includes tunes in the following styles:* England* Scotland* Ireland* Shetland* French Canadian* Nova Scotia/Cape Breton...


Films

  • Appalachian Journey (1990). Original material recorded and directed by Alan Lomax
    Alan Lomax
    Alan Lomax was an American folklorist and ethnomusicologist. He was one of the great field collectors of folk music of the 20th century, recording thousands of songs in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain.In his later career, Lomax advanced his theories of...

    . A Dibbs Directions Production for Channel Four TV in association with Alan Lomax. Presented by North Carolina Public TV. 1991 videocassette release of an episode from the 1990 television series American Patchwork: Songs and Stories of America.
  • My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1994). Directed by Les Blank. El Cerrito, California: Flower Films. ISBN 0-933621-61-2.
  • New England Fiddles (1995). Produced and directed by John M. Bishop. A Media Generation production. Montpelier, Vermont
    Montpelier, Vermont
    Montpelier is a city in the U.S. state of Vermont that serves as the state capital and the shire town of Washington County. As the capital of Vermont, Montpelier is the site of the Vermont State House, seat of the legislative branch of Vermont government. The population was 7,855 at the 2010...

    : Distributed by Multicultural Media.
  • Songcatcher
    Songcatcher
    The film's score was written by David Mansfield, who also assembled a roster of female country music artists to perform mostly traditional mountain ballads. Some of the songs are contemporary arrangements, and some are played in the traditional Appalachian music style. The artists include Rosanne...

    (dir. Maggie Greenwald, 2000) is a film about a musicologist researching Appalachian folk music in western North Carolina.
  • Sprout Wings and Fly (1983). Produced and directed by Les Blank, CeCe Conway, and Alice Gerrard. El Cerrito, California: Flower Films. ISBN 0-933621-01-9
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 comedy film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning. Set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the film's story is a modern satire loosely...

    (2000). Produced by Ethan Coen, Working Title Films, Studio Canal. Directed by Joel Coen.
  • The High Lonesome Sound John Cohen's documentary about Kentucky musician Roscoe Holcomb
    Roscoe Holcomb
    Roscoe Holcomb, was an American singer, banjo player, and guitarist from Daisy, Kentucky. A prominent figure in Appalachian folk music, Holcomb was the inspiration for the term "high, lonesome sound," coined by folklorist and friend John Cohen...

    .

External links