Why The Banjo Is Big And Brilliant In Bluegrass
For those seeking to learn about new styles and genres, Bluegrass is a fascinating form of American roots music that emerged in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1940s. Its name comes from a specific band, The Blue Grass Boys, led by Bill Monroe.
While this style of country music is partly influenced by the English, Irish and Scottish ancestries of those living in the region at the time, key elements also came from African-Americans, including the banjo. Its role helps mark out bluegrass from other styles, especially on a deep cultural level, and makes it a great instrument to learn if you are interested in this genre.
Earl Scruggs was the first person to develop a new style of banjo playing for bluegrass, with this instrument taking its place alongside other stringed instruments such as mandolins, guitars and fiddles. As Dummies.com notes: “Bluegrass banjo playing uses the thumb, index finger, and middle fingers of the right hand and (for this reason) is sometimes called three-finger picking.”
The use of banjos in bluegrass also includes the banjo roll. Learning to play these is crucial, for these are what enable the banjo to help convey a sense of direction in tunes. The three basics are the forward roll, backward roll and the alternating roll. These can be used in all sorts of combinations to create different tunes.
American country music will always be a pretty niche area of interest in the UK, but if you enjoy this style and want to give it a go, a banjo can provide a wonderful way to play a full part in creating memorable tunes.