I'm diving into North American folklore music of the 20th century, and two of the staples are the Bluegrass and Country genres / styles.

They seem to be intimately connected though, so: How are they different? How are they related?

1 Answer 1


Bluegrass is a sub-genre of Country Music with characteristics that differentiate it from mainstream Country:

  • The instrumentation is purely 'string band' based: Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Fiddle and Upright Bass. There is more emphasis on an 'acoustic' sound.
  • The music is more free and the structures are more complex. Elements of other styles like Jazz or Blues are incorporated, there are more improvised instrumental solos.
  • The voices are mostly arranged in three part harmony (sometimes two or four) with a distinctive sound in the high voice, sometimes called the "high lonesome sound".
  • Some people say Bluegrass has more of a 'hillbilly' style, a label disliked by Bluegrass musicians.
  • There are distinctive playing styles on the various instruments: flatpicking on the guitar, three-finger picking on the banjo, a characteristic fiddle sound with thirds and fifths.

Here are some examples of the style


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