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Appalachian Mountain Music

When English and Scots-Irish immigrants settled in the rural Appalachian Mountains, they brought their music with them---ballads, hymns, and other song forms.

These musical traditions were passed from generation to generation via instruments---often homemade---such as the dulcimer, banjo, guitar, double bass, and fiddle, many drawn from a common European heritage. But the music was transformed in its new environment, generating styles such as shape-note hymn singing.

By the 1920's, radio, recordings, and sheet music helped popularize Appalachian music across America. The Carter Family layered rich vocal harmonies atop guitar and autoharp accompaniment, earning them the title, "First Family of Country Music." Appalachian string bands gave rise to other iconic American styles including bluegrass, country and western, and the folk music revival of the 1960's.


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