About Appalachian Old Time Music
T he   Appalachian   Mountains   stretch   some   1500   miles   (2400km),   from   the   Canadian   east   coast   to central   Alabama   in   the   US   South.   Eastern   US   states   such   as   the   Carolinas,   Virginias,   Tennessee, Kentucky,   Georgia   as   well   as   Southern   Pennsylvania   and   Southeast   Ohio   tend   to   be   the   most significant in terms of Appalachian Old Time music culture. This   is   the   music   that   originated   in   Ireland,   Scotland   and   England,   ballads   and   dance   tunes,   brought by   Scotts-Irish immigrants   who   settled   in   and   near   the   Appalachian   mountain   chain,   often   in   coal country. The   music   evolved   in   the   many   remote   rural   settlements and     backwoods,     developing     its     own     character     and variations.      Early   recordings   in   the   1920s   and   ‘30s,   along with   the   work   of   music   collectors   including   Cecil   Sharp   and Alan   Lomax,   helped   reveal   and   spread   the   accumulated riches of songs and tunes.   It   is   the   basis   for   the   musical   forms   that   developed   in   the 20th   century   such   as   ‘country   music’,   ‘bluegrass’   and   the ‘folk music revival’ that started in the 1960s. Appalachian    music    intermingled    with    gospel    music    and    Afro-American    blues,    and    occasionally absorbed   influences   from   other   ethnicities   that   had   migrated   to   rural America,   such   as   from   Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Early   recorded Appalachian   musicians   include   the   Carter   family,   Clarence   Ashley,   Doc   Boggs,   Hobart Smith,   Bascom   Lamar   Lunsford,   Fiddlin'   John   Carson,   Jimmie   Rodgers,   Charlie   Poole   and   Frank Proffitt   initially   recorded   in   the   1920s   and   1930s.   Early   string bands   included   Gid   Tanner’s   Skillet   Lickers   and   Humphrey   Bate & the Possum Hunters. After   the   Depression   and   WW2,   the   ‘50s-‘60s   saw   new   names come   to   prominence,   such   as   Doc   Watson,   Sam   &   Kirk   McGee and   the   New   Lost   City   Ramblers   with   Mike   Seeger,   Tom   Paley and John Cohen. The   typical   instruments   played   in   string   bands   are   fiddles,   5- string   banjo   (played   claw   hammer   or   2   or   3   finger   picking   style but   not   bluegrass   style,   yet   to   be   invented   by   Earl   Scruggs)   with guitar   picking   or   strumming,   and   double   or   tub   bass   accompaniment.      Other   instruments   played   in   Old Time    include    the    mandolin,    harmonica,    piano,    Appalachian    dulcimer,    banjolin,    autoharp    and percussion such as the spoons and washboard. An   old-time   jam   differs   from   an   Irish   session   typically   by   playing   one   tune   at   a   time   rather   than   a   set   of three,   ,   and   staying   in   the   same   key   for   an   hour,   afternoon   or   even   a   day   to   avoid   re-tuning   the   fiddle and   5-string   banjo.   Musicians   typically   learn   a   collection   of   tunes   in   the   major   keys,   and   work   through those in a jam. As in an Irish session, songs may occasionally intersperse the tune-playing . Appalachian   instrumental   music   was   primarily   to   accompany   dancers   at   local   weekly   barn   dances, derived   as   it   is   from   Irish   and   Scots   reels.   There   are   individual   dance   styles   such   as   flat-foot   and clogging,   but   mostly   people   participate   in   ‘barn   dances’,   square   dances   and   contra-dancing.   The caller    constantly    sings    out    the    dancer    instructions    while    the    string    band    provides    the    musical backdrop. Many   festivals   and   ‘fiddlers   conventions’   are   staged   throughout   the Appalachian   region.   The Asheville Mountain   Dance   and   Folk   Festival   was   started   in   1928.   The   biggest   is   Clifftop   in   West   Virginia,   where over 5000 musicians gather yearly. Some links to musicians mentioned above: Gid Tanner’s Skillet Lickers Humphrey Bate & the Possum Hunters Clarence Ashley Fiddlin' John Carson   Doc Boggs Charlie Poole   New Lost City Ramblers
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