Attempting to classify music into specific genres or subgenres can be a difficult exercise, especially taking into account the incredible variety of not only traditional music genres but also the staggering, constantly evolving, ever-growing list of branches and the related offshoots of all the musical genres that exist today. As I have always had a keen interest in both music (certain genres in particular) and creating lists (plus the research and documenting that goes along with it), this small piece about music genres concerning Tresbear Music is a pleasure for me to write.
Tresbear Music tends to focus on a few specific genres and subgenres of music, some of which are relatively difficult to pin down in a precise way concerning their definitions.
Roots music is a very broad category of music which reaches across the genres of Bluegrass, country music, gospel music, old-time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun, and Native American music.
American roots music
American roots music, as this genre/subgenre is often called, is not widely known. In the early 20th century the term Folk music was often used to describe music made by Caucasians or whites of European ancestry; it probably applied mostly to the relatively isolated rural South. Further into the century folk music broadened to include the song styling of Southern blacks, especially the blues. Folk music was generally viewed as a glimpse into the cultural life of their creators as folks songs often communicated the hopes, sorrows, and convictions concerning the lives of ordinary, everyday people. Increasingly, music made by other groups of Americans such as Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Cajuns also became parts of folk music. American roots music was sung in churches, on front porches, in the fields and other workplaces, while rocking children to sleep, and so on. The tunes and the words to these songs were passed down through the generations.
Americana music is a mixture of roots music formed by the intersection of various musical traditions comprising the American musical ethos; specifically, sounds from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influences. Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”
Folk music includes both traditional music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th century folk revival. The term originated in the 19th century but is often applied to music that is older than that. Some types of folk music are also called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, or as music with unknown composers. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles.
Irish music is music that has been created in various genres on the island of Ireland. The indigenous music of the island is termed Irish traditional music. It has remained vibrant through the 20th, and into the 21st century, despite globalising cultural forces. In spite of emigration and a well-developed connection to music influences from Britain and the United States, Irish music has kept many of its traditional aspects and has itself influenced many forms of music, such as country and roots music in the USA, which in turn have had some influence on modern rock music.
Celtic music means two things mainly. Celtic music is first and foremost the music of those who identify as Celts. Secondly, it refers to whatever qualities may be unique to the musics of the Celtic Nations. Many notable Celtic musicians say that the array of different Celtic music share several common features; for example, many Celtic tunes contain certain melodic patterns tend to move up and down the primary chords.
Bluegrass is a form of American roots music, and a subgenre of country music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of Appalachia. It has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English traditional music, and also later influenced by African-American music through incorporation of jazz elements.
Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music which developed along with various North American folk dances, (e.g., square dancing, flatfoot dancing, buck dancing, clogging); it is played on acoustic instruments, generally with a combination of fiddle and plucked string instruments such as the banjo and acoustic guitar, as well as harmonica.
Gypsy music, or gypsy style, refers to the manner in which East European music is often performed at small venues in European cities. Gypsy music is mainly instrumental and usually performed by strings, with accompaniment often including a cimbalom and a double bass. There is a further subgenre, a Romanian variant, where the panflute takes center stage.
— By Stephen Frasier