Song Book Index

Traditional Bluegrass Music

Tunes and Songs with Sheet Music, Lyrics, Chords & Midi

A collection of some 250 traditional bluegrass songs and tunes with scores, chords, midis and lyrics. Many of these songs and tunes could also be put in the old-time (oldtimey) category. In fact, in the early days of bluegrass the main difference between these two was the style of performance and the heavier emphasis on vocal numbers in the bluegrass idiom. Both camps drew material from American folk traditions and for this reason you should also check my oldtimey tune-book as many of those items could also be classified as traditional bluegrass. The list of tunes/songs will take you to individual pages with the midi, lyrics and score for each piece

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BLuegrass Songbook

SEE AND PLAY BLUEGRASS SONGS OR TUNES

For sheet music and books about bluegrass you can buy check this page:

Bluegrass Books or this one for The Real Bluegrass Fakebook

Play Background Music(Colored Aristocracy)

What Is Bluegrass Music

Bluegrass music really more of a style of performance than a particular set of tunes or songs. Although there are pieces that have been written specific as bluegrass numbers the bulk of material played by bluegrass bands is extracted or based on earlier American folk traditions. However, it is probably possible to take almost any song or tune and turn it into a "bluegrass" number. Bluegrass as a style is characterized by use of mostly un-electrified string instruments usually fiddle, 5-string banjo, acoustic bass, guitar, mandolin, and sometimes a Dobro (Reso-Phonic or Hawaiian) guitar. Better know examples of bluegrass music from movies and television shows include Deliverance(Duelling Banjos), The Beverly Hillbillies and Bonnie & Clyde. Vocals often include 3 and 4 part harmonies. Tempos used tend to be quite fast  (125 to 180 bpm) compared to other music types. The acknowledged Father of Bluegrass Music is Grand Ole Opry legend Bill Monroe, and the music took it's name from his band The Bluegrass Boys. The Kentucky native based his music on the old time fiddle bands and balladeers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, playing and singing their rustic melodies in a new, but still traditional and exciting way.

Bluegrass Style Banjo

The banjo's association with bluegrass came with the stylistic innovation of Earl Scruggs in the mid-1940s, when he joined founding father Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys Band. Scruggs was one of many southern musicians who took up the instrument after it was reintroduced to the South by players on traveling minstrel shows and ragtime musicians. His arpeggiated, three-finger picking style is now commonplace among banjo players today and his breakneck playing in Monroe's band led to the inclusion of the banjo, along with mandolin and guitar, as the primary instruments of the bluegrass sound.

There are many excellent websites dedicated to the bluegrass banjo and how to play it, a good place to start is Phil Mann's site www.bluegrassbanjo.org here you will find tabs midis etc. If you want to get a quick idea on the bluegrass playing style try Ben Freed's site http://www.banjoben.com/free_banjo_lessons.htm where some basic on-line lessons are provided.

Other Bluegrass Instruments

It takes more than banjos to make good bluegrass music (despite what some banjo players say), and the other most commonly used instruments for bluegrass are: mandolin, guitar, bass, dobro (Reso-Phonic guitar) and fiddle. Again there are some excellent sites dealing with these instruments.

Bluegrass Music Resources

Banjo.com - A useful site with much bluegrass music related material and particularly as you could guess related to 5 string banjo.

Bluegrass Music related newsgroups :

If you have a good ISP they will provide a news server where you view and post messages to these newsgroups. When you click on one of these it will probably start Outlook express and ask you for the name of your news group server which you can get from your ISPs info page. (for example the one for my ISP is news.plus.net).

alt.banjo
alt.banjo.clawhammer
alt.music.bela-fleck
alt.music.hawaiian
rec.music.country.old-time
rec.music.folk
rec.music.makers.gui tar.acoustic

DOC WATSON - The Doc Watson page, Some interesting historical information about this bluegrass great.

In the US The International Bluegrass Music Association Is the main organization dedicated to promotion of bluegrass music. In the UK it's the British Bluegrass Music Association.


You may also be interested in other Bluegrass Related Items on this site:

Bluegrass Songs - 900+ songs with easy chords marked for banjo, guitar, mandolin etc, & PDFs
Traditional Bluegrass music - 250+ traditional popular bluegrass songs & tunes with chords, sheet music & midis.
Bluegrass lyrics collection 1000 song lyrics, also with PDF and RTF versions.
Country, Bluegrass and Southern Gospel songs 1700+ songs lyrics,chords & PDF.
Common Session Tunes Guitar & Mandolin Tabs, 1600+ tabs with sheet music, midis and downloadable PDF
Old Classic County Songs - 800 Vintage songs - Lyrics with chords + downloadable PDF's
Gospel Songs - Lyrics With Chords for guitar, banjo etc, 1200 songs, with downloadable PDFs
American old-time music 800+ tunes with sheet music & midi tracks + downloadble pdfs MANDOLIN tab
American old-time music 800+ tunes with sheet music & midi tracks + downloadble pdfs GUITAR tab
Bluegrass Ballads, a book of lyrics for songs relating to the Kentucky of 100 years ago.

Playing Bluegrass

Bluegrass Harmony Singing Tutorial
Learning Bluegrass Jamming Tutorial
Learning to play the bluegrass instruments by Rick Townend
Bluegrass Your Fiddle - Insiders guide and tutorial on Bluegrass Fiddling by Rick Townend.
A more complete definition of bluegrass and its background