Have you ever wondered what type of music the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies was? Well, wounder no more. It was bluegrass. During the 40's and 50's bluegrass music was a big influence in society. It combined traditional folk ballads, gospel songs, and string band music to "create a style characterized by instrumental virtuosity, high-pitched vocals, and fats tempos" (Pendergrass pp. 3). It's history; instruments and influences are what make bluegrass one of the most distinctive American forms of music. .
Bluegrass music is the old time country music, which has been influenced by Scottish-Irish, British, the blues, Negro spirituals and gospel music as well. It had its start on the rural south and came about in the 1940's after World War two. It was "basically a fusion of "hillbilly", "folk" and various types of "country" that were popular with the farm families and blue collar workers" (Pendergrass pp. 4). In the beginning it was called by various names including "hillbilly" and "mountain music." Most Professional musicians, however, did not like the term "hillbilly" music and referred to it as "Old Time Country" or "Country." It was not until the mid 1950's that the term "bluegrass" was used. When thinking of American music, Bluegrass is a genre of music that will forever have a place in American history. .
Bluegrass has always been played on acoustic instruments. The typical bluegrass band consists of these six instruments: banjo (five-string), guitar (flat-top), fiddle, mandolin, dobro and bass. In early bluegrass history they occasionally used spoons, bones, washboards and harmonicas as instruments. Along with close vocal harmonies, especially high-tenor harmony singing called the "high lonesome sound." Unlike country, singing tends to be high pitched and harmony is never sung in unison. Depending on the type of harmony, it is always above or below the lead singer.