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Thread: Six songs to define bluegrass

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    I'm reading a book called This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin, a neuropsychologist who has also been a rock musician, record producer and more. At one point he is asked by a mentor at Stanford to choose six songs that would "capture all of rack and roll."
    Here are the songs he chose:

    1) "Long Talll Sally," Little Richard
    2) "Roll Over Beethoven," The Beatles
    3) "All Along the Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix
    4} "Wonderful Tonight," Eric Clapton
    5) "Little Red Corvette," Prince
    6) "Anarchy in the U-K," the Sex Pistols

    What six songs would you choose to define bluegrass for a person who doesn't know the music, but who is interested? - Ted

    Ted Lehmann
    www.tedlehmann.blogspot.com

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    No.
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    Registered User bradeinhorn's Avatar
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    hmm...good one....

    probably a monroe burner, monroe waltz, monroe blues, monroe gospel, major instrumental and minor instrumental (by monroe). that would cover all the bases in six songs, right?

    i like my answer.



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    Define "define".

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    It might be easier to define "define" than to define "bluegrass".
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Oh no, please...no....

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Bill, Lester and Earl with Chubby and Howard singin' about broken hearts, lost love and hard times.....that there is bluegrass! Talk amongst yourselves

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    1. Uncle Pen
    2. Muleskinner Blues
    3. I saw the Light
    4. Shady Grove
    5. Kentucky Mandolin
    6. Feasting Tonight

    Why all bill monroe? because he was bluegrass. to me he was the innovator and someone who played the way he played because thats how he did it. I love Ralph Stanley as well, but dont really consider what he did bluegrass, as he was just as much an innovator. you can call the music of Ralph, Bill, Doyle, heck even nickel creek Bluegrass if it makes it easier to define, but really the artists in acoustic music define themselves. pretty much the only music i dont like is when people try to define it too closely (contemporary country, Rap) and the kind with Kazoos

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    Somehow it's typical that out of #the six tunes proposed only two are true Bluegrass originals.




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    the reason for that is to show that bluegrass is a flavor that bill monroe added to the tunes he did. as i said in my previous post i said he played because thats how he liked to play basically. i saw the light was written by bill monroe and hank williams, kentucky mandolin was written by bill, muleskinner i think was too and who else could have written uncle pen?

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    why so many groans and eye rolls after teds post? if you dont like the thread you dont have to read it.

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Combining the words "define" and "bluegrass" should be forbidden.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Oh no, somebody actually listed songs. That's not fun.

    Who was this Bill Moroe guy anyway, do I know him, is he a folk singer?



    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    what he asked for was a series of songs that you would give someone who is interested in bluegrass, but not sure where to start. not a list that contains every aspect of a genre. I am far younger than most people on this board, and am the only person in my group of friends and aquaintances i know that listens to bluegrass beyond nickel creek. if someone asked me "hey where did this style that nickel creek plays come from?" i would burn them the songs mentioned and give them an idea of what to listen for. i am 27 by the way as of 9/4 ( wow it feels strange to say that, 3 years away from geritol)I heard old country as a child (only live music in my area) and bluegrass as a teenager then activly started listening to it about 3 years ago, to me its new and more modern than anything ive heard. it strips away all the junk from folk music and gets to the heart, as someones quote says "through the nose"

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    I like bradinborn's answer and Jimmy Rogers wrote Muleskinner Blues (Blue Yodel #8)

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    thanks mike. like i said i havent been around the music that long. i guess i just wish someone would have posted the answer i did when i started listening to the style.

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Peter Hackman @ Sep. 11 2007, 13:43)
    Somehow it's typical that out of #the six tunes proposed only two are true Bluegrass originals.
    To the extent this is possible, that is exactly why those work (although probably need a particular performance note). #Bluegrass wasn't a completely new thing, it was a mixture of a lot of parts of existing things. #Songs like Muleskinner, not a bluegrass original could be the prime example of what bluegrass is, especially if contrasted with the Jimmy Rogers version.
    <Insert witty saying here>

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    Also, to the "thread detractors": #When attempts to define bluegrass come up on this board, the general answer is that it can't be defined but "I know it when I hear it". #Asking for a few songs that give examples of the genre seems to be a logical question after that answer.
    <Insert witty saying here>

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Jkf_Alone @ Sep. 11 2007, 14:10)
    the reason for that is to show that bluegrass is a flavor that bill monroe added to the tunes he did. as i said in my previous post i said he played because thats how he liked to play basically. i saw the light was written by bill monroe and hank williams, kentucky mandolin was written by bill, muleskinner i think was too and #who else could have written uncle pen?
    I meant no criticism; simply an observation on the role and position of
    BG in relation to other traditions.

    Mule Skinner Blues (or Blue Yodel No. 8) was recorded by Jimmie Rodgers in 1930, who probably put it together, at least in part, from various traditional sources. Monroe transformed it into something even bluesier, in a higher key, with long instrumental interludes - in that respect it is archetypically BG. The same could be said about Uncle Pen that integrates a fiddle tune with a simple story song and quotes a traditional fiddle tune at the end
    Yes, they could be on my list.

    I Saw the Light was recorded by Hank Williams in 1948. I doubt very strongly that Monroe had anything to do with it. It's credited to Williams, but Fred Rose may have helped with it.

    If I were to list a gospel song as "defining" BG, I would rather pick Protect My Soul or Get Down on Your Knees and Pray,
    which have a much stronger traditional feel.

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    ok heh, i guess i dont have the bluegrass cred to defend my post, someone else please just post 6 songs so they can get it.

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    1. Uncle Pen
    2. Bluegrass Special (or Foggy Mtn Special, your choice)
    3. Kentucky Waltz
    4. Jerusalem Ridge
    5. I'm On My Way Back To the Old Home (right title??)
    6. What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul

    Now see what y'all made me go an do?

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    I actually don't see where "wonderful tonight" fits in to the 6 rock songs - so I've been scratchin my head from the first post

    funny - when Peter Schickely ( forgive the spelling please)played an example of bluegrass on his Schickely mix show - he did not play Monroe - he played Earnest Stoneman
    - not that Peter Schickely is in the know about bluegrass - but his show was about displaying various musical concepts to an relatively generic audience.

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    Ok I will have a stab at it, but the only way I can answer is to list the six songs that define bluegrass to me. so here it goes
    1. Blue Moon of Kentucky performed by Bill Monroe
    2. Foggy Mountain Breakdown performed by Flatt and Scruggs
    3. Nellie Kane performed by Hot Rize
    4. On the Boulevard performed by New Grass Revival
    5. Uncle Pen performed by Bill Monroe
    6. Salty Dog Blues performed by Flatt and Scruggs

    These songs exposed me to not only traditional forms of bluegrass but new and experimental ways to play.

    Just my two cents

    Kelvin

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    Registered User bradeinhorn's Avatar
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    I'll take some of the heat off him since this is interesting. many of these i feel can be substituted of course, but i like my general formula stated up above as best possible way to capture "bluegrass". Not that it really matters as his versions/arrangments were so definitive, but sorry if these aren't all written by monroe.

    1) On My Way Back to the Old Home
    2) Blue Moon of Kentucky
    3) Wicked Path of Sin
    4) Blue Night
    5) Gold Rush
    6) Jerusalem Ridge



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