Editorials & Features

Don Walser holds his memories dear By Michael Corcoran

Songwriting 101 - So you want to be a songwriter?

Genrés, Categories and Styles - Key to what music is review & listed on these sites.

What is Country Roots Music?

I spend a lot of time thinking about music. Once you become familiar with my sites you will understand why, and hopefully won't think I've been wasting my time. Genrés, categories and styles (GCS) are important if you are trying to communicate with others about music performances and recordings. They are irrelevant to the actual enjoyment process. Nonetheless, for my sites to be effective they need to both attract folks who are interested the the same GCS as myself. So let me try to present some of my ideas - which is a work in progress.

Country Roots - wide range of music based upon the rural American musical heritage.

I'm going to work on a loose structure first, then get into details. Obviously, there is a great deal of cross-breeding and commingling, but I'm not trying to deal with that now. Note, I'm talking about rural music here.

Also note I do not claim to be an expert and everyone looks at the world from their own perspective. These are my opinions and will give you an idea of what I'm talking about in the newsletter when I list a band's genre. I'm open to your input and suggestions, and welcome your historical references. Send your suggestions via the Contact form.

Genrés, Categories and Styles

Item shown yellow: prime focus of Country Roots Music and Central Texas Country sites
Item in light gray: also included
Item in dark gray: rarely included

Note: This list is intended to be both informative and not to be taken too seriously!

The term "singer/songwriter" gets used as if it were a style of music, but in fact singer/songwriters create all sorts of music with the categories below.

  • Country Music Traditions
    • Traditional Country - Hank Williams is the quintessential artist in this category. Traditional Country is raw and unadorned. Typically the instruments are acoustic including stand-up bass. The contemporary version of this music frequently uses at least a telecaster lead guitar and often a pedal steel guitar, perhaps an electric bass. This is music from the 1930s - 1950s.
    • Classic Country - George Jones is a good example of a classic artist, as is Loretta Lynn. This is a more modern style than the traditional with a broader range of tempos and melodic styles. Contemporary Classic Country rarely has the sweeping string orchestra and vocal chorus arrangements. This style comes primarily from the 1960s and 70s.
    • Honky-Tonk - this is the fun blend of the traditional and classic and emphasizes tempos and styles that particularly lend themselves to dancing and revelry. I'd classify Ernest Tubb and Merle Haggard as honky-tonk.
    • Country/Western - This is what country music used to be before it got homogenized, watered down and polluted by the money-grubbing, corporate flacks. Country Western was a blend of the old country/folk traditions with the western expansion in the U.S.
    • Western Swing - as originated by Milton Browne and his Musical Brownies and popularized by Bob Wills, essentially swing music played with country instruments. Closely associated with other dance music, such as polka, waltz, and two-steppin'. Closely related to, or also known as, Cowboy Jazz or simply Cow Jazz.
    • Cowboy Country - Cool Clear Water, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Ghost Riders In the Sky... they called the wind Mariah. Need I say more? Gene Autrey, Sons of the Pioneers, you gotta love 'em.
    • Gospel and Sacred Harp - Also part of Folk, Bluegrass & Blues Tradtions
  • Folk Traditions
    • Traditional Folk - Every culture has music which has been handed down through the generations. Early American folk music started with of the music the emmigrants brought with them from their homelands, but was quickly modified by their experiences in this country. Country Roots Music will not attempt to cover the imported styles, but will concentrate on the homegrown varieties.
      • Mountain Music - there are lots of mountains and related folk music
      • Hillbilly - Mountain Music with strong mix of traditional folk dance, moonshine and inbreding.
      • Gospel and Sacred Harp - Also part of Country, Bluegrass & Blues Traditions
      • Cajun - music of the descendants of French-speaking Catholics from Acadiana in Canada now living in southwest Louisiana. link link
      • Zydeco - evolved in southwest Louisiana from blues forms combined with Creole, Cajun, French, African and Caribbean musical traditions. link
      • Native American - I'm far from knowledgable in this area, but do enjoy Bill Miller's more modern versions of his traditional music.
    • New Folk - Haven't quite figured this term out, yet. I'm thinking now it is close to traditional, but with a strong streak of what is frequently called "singer songwriter" these days.
    • Folk Rock - self-evident. I do not plan to cover much of this in the CRM site.
  • Bluegrass
    • traditional style - as created/popularized by Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys. Hard driving sound with traditional acoustic instruments and distictive "high" vocal harmonies.
    • classic style - Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe and brought his inovative three-finger banjo picking to bluegrass and created the sound most folks associate with the genre today.
    • dobro/acoustic style - a more modern sound often with resophonic guitar, occassionally percussion, and a softer, more open throat vocal style. Alison Krauss + Union Station are my favorite in this category.
    • Gospel - Also part of Country, Blues & Folk Traditions
    • Newgrass - a.k.a., hippiegrass - a derivative style featuring much improvisation, "noodling" and blending of popular music, rock, and other genres. I do not plan to cover this in the CRM site.
  • Blues Traditions
    • Country Blues
    • Traditional Blues
      • Delta Blues
      • St. Louis Blues
      • New Orleans Blues
      • Chicago Blues
    • Gospel - Also part of Country, Bluegrass & Folk Traditions
    • Blues Rock
    • Jazz
      • Traditional styles
      • Dixieland
      • Hoakum
      • Swing - inportant here due to it being the roots of Western Swing
  • Rock Traditions
    • Rockabilly - a mixture of early rock and country for jump-step and swing dancing
    • Roots Rock
    • Classic Rock'n'Roll
    • Boogie-Woogie
    • AAA - Adult Album Alternative, pop music for a more sophisticated taste.
  • Alternative Styles
    • alt-country - in the U.S. west refers to a milder, more singer/songwriter form of country music, but around here and in many other areas refers to the melding of country with punk rock. The former may get some coverage; the later probably not.
    • psyhcobilly - a very frenetic alt-country form combining hillbilly with punk rock
    • bluegrass in the style of [insert pop-group name here] - some folks find this fun; it is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

This is a work in progress. Last update: September 15, 2005 [Well, I guess progress has stalled: April 24, 2015]