Bluegrass music

Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the United States Appalachian region.[1] The genre derives its name from the band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.[2] Unlike mainstream country music, bluegrass is traditionally played on acoustic stringed instruments. Bluegrass has roots in traditional English, Scottish and Irish ballads and dance tunes, and in traditional African-American blues and jazz.[3] Bluegrass was further developed by musicians who played with Monroe, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."[4]

Bluegrass features acoustic stringed instruments and emphasizes the off-beat. Notes are anticipated, in contrast to laid back blues where notes are behind the beat, which creates the higher energy characteristic of bluegrass.[3] In bluegrass, as in some forms of jazz, one or more instruments each takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment; this is especially typified in tunes called breakdowns.[5] This is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment.[5] Breakdowns are often characterized by rapid tempos and unusual instrumental dexterity and sometimes by complex chord changes.[6]