Fiddle & Old Time Country

A type of country music ensemble that includes fiddle, banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and upright bass. Emerged in the early 1900s and was an important precursor to bluegrass. During the late 1800s, the Carolina Piedmont provided fertile ground for the cultivation of a string band tradition that combined Scots-Irish fiddle and balladry with African instruments like banjo and European guitar and mandolin. String band music was social music, played at dances, contests, and other community occasions. String band musicians were storytellers, performing songs of tragedy and revenge, love and friendship. Much of this music, whether blues or string band, has deep roots in both sacred and secular themes, creating dynamic music with emotional and personal meaning.

Today it is played primarily in circles where old-time country music remains popular, such as family picnics, square dances, fiddle conventions, and jam sessions. Rooted in British ballads and folk songs originally played on the fiddle in Britain. Country music has been aggressively marketed since the 1920s, developing numerous traditions within genre – honky tonk, western swing, and early rock and roll.

Content is provided by McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina.

Ashley Carder

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