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WESTERN MUSIC was first brought to wide attention by John Lomax in his 1910 book, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads. The romanticization of the cowboy in the following decades, and the advent of radio and recording brought music to much larger audiences. Hollywood and the music business got to work on the folk originals and produced slick fully orchestrated four-part harmonies for pictures and records. Popular recordings and musical radio shows featuring Western music (such as the National Barn Dance) were of Western music, and had their heyday in the 1930s and 1940s, Western Swing also developed during this era. Western music has been in decline ever since, having been placed and marketed as a non-mainstream genre by the music business.
Rock and Roll came to dominate music sales and Western artists were dropped by the recording studios. However, Country and Western staged a Nashville led comeback, resulting in Country and Western becoming more mainstream, and sadly, in the process, loosing most of the characteristics and style of it's folk roots, leaving it as a sort of watered down rock and roll with folksy lyrics. Traditional Western Music was basically a form of folk music using voice, guitar, banjo, mandolin and a few other instruments but nearly always without drums or percussive sounds and probably has more in common with bluegrass that modern "country" or "country and western" music.
You may also be interested in other Cowboy Related Music on this site:Cowboy songbook - 70+ Cowboy, Western and Pioneer songs with lyrics midis & sheet music.