When many people think of country music, they think of sad songs about lost loves, broken down trucks and runaway dogs. In their minds, they are hearing all of these woes sung in the traditional twangy country accents of the south. However, these perceptions of country music are far from where this style of music has evolved. Today, country music is one of the most popular genres of music, normally outsold only by rock and pop genres.
The beginning of country music
Created in the late 19th century, country music has under gone many changes over the years. Now we have many sub-genres to this type of music, with some of the sub-genres being commonly played on top 40 radio stations.
The instruments used
To understand country music, it is helpful to know about the instruments commonly associated with it. In country music, one of the most common instruments used is the fiddle (or violin). Some of these instruments can be expensive, but most are relatively inexpensive and are very easily transports since they tare light in weight and not overly large. When country music first ‘hit the scene’, the fiddle was practically the only instrument used as accompaniment.
However, as the country music style became more popular, the addition of other accompanying instruments became normal. The banjo became popular in some country music pieces in the mid 1800s, while the guitar did not break into the country music scene until the early 1900s. Electric guitars did not become a regular instrument in country music until much later in the 50s. Country musicians also use the piano (introduced in the 1930s) and the drums (used since the 1960s). Rarely used, but distinctive sounding instruments are used in certain country songs: the accordion, the harmonica, and the washboards.
The Roots of country music
Country music has roots in several different styles of music. Its beginnings started with the settlers that came from Europe. Most people couldn’t read or write, so songs were created to pass history down from one generation to the next. Country ballads have changed a great deal. They went from the original songs about objective, though gruesome, events to more personal, subjective ballads without all the gore.
Today, the sound of country music can sometimes be very similar to other genres of pop and rock. Some country musicians, like Shania Twain, have many songs playing on stations that aren’t considered “country”. There are also musicians, like Sheryl Crow, who are considered pop/rock, but have songs popular on country stations.