Home  >  Bluegrass Music

A Brief Introduction to Bluegrass Music

Bluegrass music is considered a form of American roots music with its own roots in English, Irish and Scottish traditional music. The name of the genre is derived from the Blue Grass Boys, the name of Bill Monroe's band. It has been inspired by immigrants from the British Isles, as well as the music of rural African-Americans, jazz, and blues.

Like jazz, bluegrass is played with each melody instrument switching off, playing improvised solos in turn while the others revert to backing. Bluegrass relies mostly on acoustic stringed instruments. The fiddle, banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and upright bass are sometimes joined by the resonator guitar. Instrumental solos are improvised, and can frequently be technically demanding. At times the musicians may perform gospel songs, singing four-part harmony and including no or sparse instrumentation.

Besides instrumentation, one of the distinguishing characteristics of bluegrass are the vocal harmonies featuring two, three, or four parts and an emphasis on traditional songs, often with sentimental or religious themes.

More information about Bluegrass music can be found in the Links Section.