History of country music

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A History of Country Music

When some people hear talk of country music, they think only of singers of

sad songs with stereotypically twangy accents. These misconceptions did

impede country music's growth at its birth, but the stereotype did not

prevent it from becoming one of the most popular music forms of the 20th

century. In fact, country music is one of the best-selling genres after

rock/pop. This site will take you from country music's origins in the late

19th century through all the changes and sub-genres that have developed

over the past 100 years or so.

To better understand country music, it is helpful to understand the most

commonly used musical instruments in the genre. The fiddle (or violin) was

the most common instrument since it was easy and inexpensive to make and

not a major burden to carry around. At first it was the sole lead

instrument, but later it became popular to add more accompanying

instruments. The banjo, brought to the American South by slaves, became

popular in the mid-1800s. The guitar did not come into the picture until

the early 1900s when they became mass-produced and affordable for the

everyday person. At first, the guitar was only a rhythm instrument, but

picking styles later became popular. Contemporary country music often uses

the electric guitar, which became popular in the '50s. Other stringed

instruments include the dobro, the dulcimer, the steel guitar, the

mandolin, the zither, bass guitar and the autoharp. In other types of

country music you might hear the accordion (since the 1920s), the

harmonica, the piano (beginning in the 1930's with the rise of Western

swing), washboards (as rhythm instruments) or drums (not popular until the


Country music has its beginnings in music styles brought over by the first

European settlers. In medieval...