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Country Music Report

Research Report
Aisling Forbes | CERT III MUSIC | 01/06/19
The Country Music Genre
Country music, otherwise known as country and western music originated in rural areas of
The South and West in the early 20th century; it can be traced back to the early 1900’s,
specifically to American fiddlers of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Country Music’s
roots lie in the ballads, folk songs, and, popular songs of the English, Scots, and Irish
settlers of the Appalachians and other parts of the south.
Types of Country Genres include;
Celtic Music
Old-time music
Spiritual Music
Nashville Sound
AN Analysis of the country music genre
Country Music from the early 20th century is drastically different from country music
today. BBC’s radio website describes the simplicity of country as “Defiantly derivative both
in its themes and in harmony, the joke about country music being based on only three
chords isn’t too far from the truth. The bass lines in country nearly always plod between
two notes, a legacy from the old tea-chest basses when poor musicians had to make do
with broom-handles and tea-chests as instruments.”
When listening to country music or any music in general I count the beat, it could either
be 4/4, 6/8/ or ¾ etc. Then I would move onto what instruments are involved and if they
are in major or minor, following that would be deciding what Key it is in. Sometimes I find
myself looking into the context of the artist and the events surrounding the music. The
steps I may take are:
Time Signature
Elvis Presley
While Elvis is the king of ‘Rock n Roll’ he also produced some amazing country songs
that fitted into the Blues sub-genre of country music. His “I Forgot to Remember to
Forget” is one of his most traditional country songs, this song reached Number One on
the Country charts. Presley shudders and modulates his elastic vocal range.
Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is arguably the most important female singer-songwriter in country
music history. Her songs vary in variety, ranging in sub-genre from Bluegrass, Country
Pop and Gospel Music. She is known for pioneering the interface between country and
pop music styles. She has influenced the product of country music in todays
contemporary society.
Dolly Parton was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, in 1946. She grew up in a musical
family and performed from an early age, something which heavily influenced her. Her
family was one of her main influencers. Others include:
Hank Williams
Molly O’Day
Bill Monroe
Roy Rogers
Willie Nelson
Wanda Jackson
Parton’s songs reached major popularity during the 1970’s, she had hits like “Jolene”
(1974), “Coat of Many Colors” (1971) and “I Will Always Love You (1974). Overall Parton
was extremely popular during the 70’s as were many country artists due to the
worldwide events taking place.
Events that Influenced the Country Genre
The Great Depression after World War I significantly changed country music, sales
drastically fell however, country musicians continued to perform locally and
innovatively. The great depression allowed several new forms of country music to take
place and manifest as Western Swing and Honky-Tonk. Western Swing combined
traditional country with Dixieland jazz making it immensely popular; it’s often
referred to as Texas Swing.
Honky-Tonk was developed in the saloons and bars of the South and Southwest
usually featuring a steel guitar and a fiddle. The rhythm guitar was the dominant
instrument and was played by the lead-singer. Honky-Tonk music often involved
heartbreak, drinking and work. This sub-genre of country music became the most
popular form of country music in Nashville during the 1940’s, in the event of another
world war; World War II. The depressive lyrics often appealed to the people.
Country Genre and Style
Country Music is often dominated by a guitar, may that be acoustic or steel. This is
mainly because of its potability and versality where there’s no drummer or bass guitar.
The guitar assumes the role of time and harmony. The Ballad in country music is often
the most common rhythm and is played at a slow to moderate tempo with a
thumbpick or fingerpick style. Time signatures are usually ¾ and 4/4, using simplistic
chords and progressions that are always played with a full left hand sustain. Country
music that is played faster often relates to Bluegrass, western swing and blues.
However, all share common elements.
Artists in these genres may wear extremely extroverted clothes with bright colors and
patterns such as checkers and plaid. Male country artists might wear a Texas Cowboy
Commercially or Customer Oriented
Artists in the past in the country genre I believe have been customer oriented
however, as we develop as a modern society that customer orientation is lost as we
begin to value fame, fortune and money. This can be said for numerus artists
nowadays. As a contemporary society I believe country artists such as Taylor Swift,
Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban; they are all very immersed in pop country are
commercially oriented.
Keith Urban
Keith Urban when performing live usually features his acoustic guitar which he plays,
this is heavily common for the country genre as well as the simplistic chords and time
signature; 4/4 or 3/4.
In 2013 Keith Urban did the “Light the Fuse” tour, it was a heady and eclectic mix
featuring a variety of country music ranging from hard country rock to Ballads.
However, in 2016 he explored his rhythmic roots with a six-string banjo and a
Keith urban when recording his songs always feature guitar and rhythmic instruments.
When recording sound production features on their recordings Urban usually using a
synthesizer or an electronic instrument.
Keith Urban is a Grammy-award winning country music singer and guitarist. In the
late 1990’s he decided to pursue a solo career and released a self-titled solo album.
When Urban was a teenager, he won several talents shows and joined a country band
which influenced his signature style of rock country. In 1988, he debuted his first
album which enjoyed success in Australia, his home country. He then joined a band in
Nashville called, The Ranch which made a massive splash in 1997. After leaving his
band he was recruited by some of the biggest names in country music; Garth Brooks
and the Dixie Chicks.
Keith urban was extremely well known for his guitar and vocal skills, he featured a sixstring banjo in one of his songs. He experimented with synthesizers and electric guitar
as well as bass. Urban performs for thousands of people in arena’s and participated as
a judge on American Idol often performing there.
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