Free Essay Sample. Country Music Concert

Published: 2023-04-19
Free Essay Sample. Country Music Concert
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Music Inspiration
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1879 words
16 min read

The Grizzly Rose is one of the most popular country venues in Denver. The place has hosted some of the most popular bands in the country since its opening in 1989. Grizzly Rose offers different genres of country music for six days in a week. The concert venue allows country music fans to enjoy watching artists from country bands or their covers from just an arm's length away. On the day of my attendance, the group that was performing was the Young Guns country Music Band, an internationally touring band that pays tributes to superstars of country music by playing all the best country music from the 1920s through today. Their professionalism in country music singing and performance gives students an excellent opportunity to understand various theoretical concepts taught in class.

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The Young Band country music band comprises of six music artists on the vocals and many other artists on the instrumentals. Country music, also known as western or county, is a popular music genre that traces its origin from genres such as blues and American folk music from the southern U.S. in the 1920s (Mathews,2006). Many elements of county music are derived from the folk music of blue-collar and or working American life, which mixed songs, tunes from Celtic and Irish fiddle, English ballads, musical traditions of different immigrants from Europe, and Cowboy songs. The genre was originally referred to as hillbilly because the term country music was adopted. The main features of country music played by the band in the concert are the same elements that are typical to all genres of the country. The genre consisted of ballads and dance tunes that are from folk lyrics, simple forms, and harmonies that accompany instruments such as electric or acoustic guitars, banjos, fiddlers, steel guitars (particularly debros and pedal steels) and harmonicas (Mathews, 2006). The term "country music" was meant to distinguish this genre of music from those of the city people such as opera, Broadway, or classical music as well as the Tin Pan Alley music in New York written by professional songwriters. The band played various styles and subgenres of country music through the performance; however, at the climax of the performance, it concentrated on the Jimmy Rodgers country music songs.

In the five-hour non-stop performance, played music from notable artists across all five-six generations of country music; however, at the climax at the last hour, Nashville sounds ruled the stage. The first song to be performed was the Uncle John Scruggs song, "Little log cabin in the lane." While playing the song, only one musical instrument could be heard and the vocals of a lead singer. While many instrumentalists in the band were inactive, only a few played banjolele instruments (Mathews, 2006). The lead singer sang the lyrics of the song, imitating the old African American accent. In the process, the audience danced by tapping their feet on the floor as if they are running. The type of dance was quite primary, and it inspired the feeling of simplicity. Despite the simplicity of the songs and the typical dance style that persisted the entire time the first generation country music was played, the audience seemed to enjoy. For example, while playing the song "Wreck of the Old'97" by Vernon Dalhart, flutes and banjo were mainly used. Songs from other famous first-generation country music musicians such as Jimmie Rodgers, Blind Alfred, and Skillet Lickers were played. For these later musicians, however, steel guitar, acoustic guitar, autoharp, and mandolin was incorporated into music. The use of these instrumental, however, varied depending on the geographical origin of the musicians. Besides, most of the songs from the first generation played in the concert provide the history and culture of the people in a particular society. The ability to bridge the geographical difference in the subjects of the songs leads to the creation of a first-generation national genre through fusing styles from different regions.

The first generation country music originated from the Atlanta region, which acted as the pioneer place for an artist to record their music. For example, fiddlers such as James Gideon Tanner created a band based in Atlanta. Tanner's band, the Skillet Lickers, become influential because of the way it combined the use of fiddle, guitar, and vocals to come up with popular songs. Famous musicians such as Milton Brown and Bob Wills, on the other hand, led to the creation of subgenre of country music by incorporating aspects of Big Band to form a second generation country music subgenre (Mazor, 2009). The resulting subgenre was the western swing that became popular later on in the 1950s and 1960s (Mazor, 2009).

The western swing music that was played in the concert includes that composed by Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Hank Thompson, and their bands, among others. The main feature for this subgenre is its up-tempo beat that once played immediately pull the audience to the dance floor. As an outgrowth of jazz, the western swing is an amalgamation of blues, folk, polka, cowboy, and rural, played with hot string band that is improved by pianos, drums, steel guitar, and saxophones (Mazor, 2009). The distinct sound between western swing and other subgenres arises from the use of electrically amplified stringed instruments. In the concert, it was evident that there were two categories of western swing, that music with drums and those without drums. At the early stages of the development of country music, drums were considered not being pure or being too loud. Bob Willis, however, incorporated drums to his band, Texas Playboy. Besides, he also pioneered the use of electric guitar in his group.

Further development in the western swing saw the rise of the use of Guitar Boogie instrumental in country music. In the concert, almost second-generation music and later used Guitar Boogie instrumentals with minor variations. The most common features of Guitar Boogie instrumentals used are those from Gibson and Gretsch archtop electric guitars, which for many years have become a signature guitar sound in the country music. Other songs in the second generation category were played in the concert include "Peace in the Valley," the first million-selling gospel song, "Honkytonk blues," and "Pistol packin' mama." The last two songs had a variety of moods and basis ensemble of Dobro, guitar, bass, and drums. They are called the honky-tonk subgenres.

The band also played a song, the "He stopped loving her today," a honky-tonk by George Jones. While singing the song, the band vocalist put more emphasis on the distinctive voicing and phrasing. George Jones, as a country music musicians, left a legacy that changes the landscape of the genre for good. In his songs, George focused on the appeal of the tones produced, irrespective of the meaning of those words. As a result, he had brought the elements of opera and formal music singers to country music. For instance, instead of singing from the deep in the diaphragm, he sang from the back of his throat. His way of singing also involved tightening the larynx instead of squeezing the sound out, while clinching the jaw, instead of allowing it to be free like many other musicians. Besides, to make his notes beautiful, he forcibly pushed wing through his teeth. By focusing on tones, George was able to generate the feeling that the character in the song felt, thus creating an illusion of reality. George's singing style influenced later country music singers such as Frank Sinatra and Gram Parsons. Although the bank vocalist struggled to imitate George while singing his song, he managed to show the audience that George's singings styles were distinctively unique.

Jimmy Rodgers's songs also featured significantly at the climax of the concert. Unlike the western swing, Jimmy Rodgers's songs were unique in terms of vocalization. As a result of the uniqueness, he becomes a pioneer of Deep South country music. His songs, including, "Child of Clay," "English Country Garden," and "Take Me Back Again." The main characteristics of Jimmy's songs are his ability to repeatedly and rapidly change pitch between the high register or falsetto, and low-pitch chest voice or chest register. This technique is called yodeling. Jimmy's "Blue Yodel No. 1" created an instantaneous national obsession for yodeling music in the United States. Accordingly, many black and white musicians' musicians began imitating Rodgers while singing (Mazor, 2009). The yodeling became the characteristic feature of Deep South country music. In the concert, the yodeling while singing Rodgers songs draw the attention of t the audience and create a connection between the band and the listeners. Due to his yodeling, Rodgers became a central figure in the hillbilly music that became popular in the later 1920s, when the recording industry started forcing on the songs from the rural South (Mazor, 2009). Currently, Rodgers occupy a vital role in the history of old-time or hillbilly music. It is from his songs that the relationship between country music and traditional folk and African Americans experienced is determined. Rodgers, therefore, take the role of folksinger who transmit the tradition of Negro blues.

The other aspect of country music that the band illustrated while singing Rodgers songs is naturalness and directness. To me, the Jimmie Rodgers's songs depicted an element of heart, honesty, and sincerity that made the compelling concert forces. The genuine sincerity in the voice of the band vocalist's voice appealed to many audiences in the concert. Even those who were sitting gave a standing ovation when the band began singing Rodgers songs. There was no 'graces and airs' in the songs, and singing did not seem to be affected by the vocalist speaking voice (Mazor, 2009). In Rodger's time, such quality of songs would not have been possible with the invention of the microphone, since the mechanical and acoustic recording lacked projection. Additionally, the vocal inflection of the band and the clarity of the guitar compelled the audience in the concert to respond to their immediacy.

The bands' yodeling ability in singing Rodgers songs, also contributed to the creation of a sense of honesty and sincerity that the audience perceived when listening to his songs. For example, Rodgers yodeling was always relaxed. In the songs that are slower, they hold the falsetto notes instead of indulging in the decoration of the melody. Besides, he did not attempt any rapid rhythmic oscillation or any virtuosity. Rodger's tessitura was always at a range that was comfortable by being slightly above is normal voice, thus lacking bite and shrillness (Mazor, 2009). Besides, the yodeling gave a sense of familiarity. The familiarity arises from the fact that his melodic patterns and yodeling syllables had little variation.

Consequently, by using similar incipits with few rhythmic profiles and basic melodic shapes, intoned with the same syllable, his yodel became familiar and recognizable, irrespective of the style of his song (Mazor, 2009). The instruments used by the band to play Jimmy Rodger's songs were mainly the acoustic guitar and tenor banjo. Like in Rodger's time, the vocalist played the guitar while singing the lyrics. The typical Rodger's songs involved lyrics whose first two lines are identical while the third line is different.

From the above discussion, it is evident that there are many subgenres of country music. Each subgenre, however, originates from a particular region and is greatly affected by the traditional folk music styles on people living in that region.

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