An Introduction to Bluegrass
By: L. Mayne Smith
In this article, the author, L. Mayne Smith, gives us a brief but detailed view into the Bluegrass genre. He describes the behaviors along with the musical phenomena that are typically associated with the bluegrass name. The article first starts out by describing the music itself and then veers off to the derivation of Bluegrass and how people developed its style and physical context. He explains that his present task is not to present the historical roots of Bluegrass but to describe the contemporary style of the music that of which we typically listen to today. The article then goes on to explain the reasoning behind why scholarly treatments of American song do not typically accurately portray the study of musical style due to the lack of precise academic knowledge. He compensates for this by rather than discussing the style itself he talks about the influences on bluegrass. Bluegrass is associated with the Southern crowd in that it is known as hillbilly music. The audience to a bluegrass festival also mainly consists of a white Southern population. However, bluegrass is not your typical hillbilly style of music in that it is not dance music and is seldom used for this purpose. The Bluegrass bands are almost always males containing anywhere from four to seven members who typically play stringed instruments that are not electrified. Integrating the voices and instruments comes from a jazz-like tradition unlike the earlier stringed band styles. Bluegrass is said to be the only full-fledged style of stringed band music. Every band that plays bluegrass music contains a banjo play in “Scruggs style” or a derivation of such.