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Music Genres We Play

Our originals are not constrained by aiming for any genre, so they might sound like anything from Americana to Indie-folk/rock, roots-rock, Appalachian, old-country-folk, hard-rock, or whatever. It’s not easy for us to say exactly which of the multitude of creative genre names we’d call any of our originals; we’d be interested to know what you’d call it! Since we’re a duo, our albums can delve into more genres than live performances because when we record we’ll often lay down multiple tracks using a houseful of instruments including electric guitars, old African hand drums, a cello, and a drum set.

We love to perform a setlist of only our originals. But we can also play exclusively in some genres such as Americana folk, Celtic, Appalachian old-time, country-folk, etc., so feel free to get in touch if you like our non-classical style.

We are self-taught and our style is gleaned from any genre we’ve ever liked…and we like a LOT of genres. It might not make a perfect fit into a pure genre box, but we are not playing music in a way to purposely preserve a traditional style. Instead, we like to experiment and see how our style evolves with our tastes.

We want to mention the genre of bluegrass here because many people who don’t know the difference between bluegrass and old-time might think that we play bluegrass if they’ve heard us playing mountain music at a farmers market. We’ve encountered many people who will call music bluegrass just because it has a fiddle or banjo. We enjoy listening to some bluegrass, but that is not what we (or bluegrass fans) would call what we play. It’s when we play old-time or Celtic that people might mistakenly call it bluegrass. There is overlap in some of the tunes and songs played by old-time musicians and bluegrass musicians since bluegrass grew out of old-time. The more you listen to either genre, the more you can tell the difference.

Here’s some of the differences in my mind between old-time and bluegrass. I am not an expert and these are just observations from my own experience. You can find descriptions of the very lively and interesting histories of each genre on the Internet.

Similarities of Old-Time and Bluegrass

  • Instruments used are guitar, fiddle, stand-up bass, 5-string banjo, mandolin.
  • Many traditional tunes and songs are played and there is some overlap in some of these
  • Sounds like good mountain music (because that’s where it started)

Differences of Old-Time and Bluegrass

  • Old-time fiddle playing uses more droning and simpler melodies mixed with more rhythm while bluegrass fiddle playing is more flamboyant and improvises fast notes strung together. Bowing styles also differ. Old-time fiddle might be cross-tuned and might have a flattened bridge for easier droning. Bluegrass fiddle would stay in standard tuning and have more of a classical set-up.
  • Old-time 5-string banjo is played in claw-hammer style while bluegrass 5-string banjo is played in a finger-picked style.
  • Old-time song format is often a repetitive A and B part tune with singing interspersed whereas bluegrass song format is usually verses, a chorus, and fast improvised solos of the different instruments.
  • Old-time dancers will flat-foot on a board to provide a percussive instrument to the music whereas bluegrass dancers will clog.

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