"Western Fiddle Music"
Contributed by Gauri Pathak & Lily Wang
MUS 334 Professor Sturman
October 11, 2002
The roots of western fiddle music lie in the folk music that English, Irish, and Scottish settlers brought to the Appalachian Mountain region of the South in the 18th and 19th centuries. English and Irish ballads were performed during colonial times in both religious and social contexts, including church services, weddings, and barn dances. After the 1920s, recordings of western fiddle music led the way for a series of later stylistic developments including western swing, honky-tonk, bluegrass, and rockabilly.
Bluegrass is country music played on un-amplified stringed instruments and characterized by free improvisation and close, high-pitched harmony. It originated during the 1920s and 1930s representing a return to the prerecording days of folk music. Characterized by the acoustic string-band sounds of the Southeast, the bluegrass style usually features a banjo, fiddle, and mandolin in lead parts while a guitar and string bass provide accompaniment. Fiddle solos and improvisations played at very fast tempos are a common feature of bluegrass music. Bluegrass fiddling styles and musical arrangements had a major influence on subsequent styles and artists.