How Many Types of Country Music are there?
Not much of a country music news to bait attention, but definitely is a helpful information for every country music enthusiast.
Depending on who you’re asking, the question posed will open multiple cans of worm. Hardcore traditionalists may only approve songs by country legends to the exclusion of their modern counterparts. Younger fans, of course, welcome almost every song tagged as country. Having been soaked to music with pop and rock elements, they don’t see the need to discriminate between the oldies and contemporary singers. If the song suits their groove, then on it goes to their playlist.
In a nutshell, country music has a wide array of categorizations from its subgenres to merges with pop & rock, and on to the intended audience. There are country songs for children, the religious, the activists and other sorts of themes. If we’re to quantify the types of Country Music based on people’s analyses, we won’t really be having a comprehensive list for everybody’s satisfaction.
Hence, to avoid unnecessary debates over which is acceptable to the country label, let’s dig a bit of history leading to country music’s evolution over the course of time.
From 1800’s down to the early 1900’s, Blues by Afro-Americans and Appalachian folk music filled the air. Though both were songs by the people, Blues were lyrical in structure while Folk were often in narratives. Besides these, itinerant musicians from various parts of Europe like the Scots and Irish left bits of their influences as well.
Instruments commonly used were Fiddle and Banjos. Other stringed instruments followed. Harmonica, of course, were indispensable to Blues musicians.
Fiddlers and Hillbilly songs common in the rural South were rising in prominence. In the 1920’s, record labels started scouting for more talents. Among them were Tennesseans Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family. Surpassing regional success, their acts also gained national attention.
Jimmie Rodgers, dubbed Father of Country Music, popularized the edgy hillbilly sounds reminiscent of cowboy songs and their yodels. The Carter Family, in contrast, have sung ballads and other sweet-tempered songs. Regardless of their differences, Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family were considered key figures for the recognition of what we call now as Country Music.
Advent of the Genre
1940’s became the Golden Age for folk musicians. While Hollywood became instrumental for the promulgation of various hillbilly tunes through cowboy movies, another musical style reached great heights. Enter, Bluegrass Music.
Bluegrass has its Appalachian influence deeply embedded in its core with one addition, the element of Jazz. Besides the known instruments like fiddle, banjo, guitar, etc. that distinguishes bluegrass from other types of music, only one chord structure is played throughout. Musicians, then, were bound to improvise their own melodies.
On the flipside, the rest of the more experimental Western hits were collectively branded by radio stations as Classic Country. This covers all songs by all deemed Country legends from the 1920’s to the 1990’s.
In every decade, more spins and sub-genres were birthed and introduced. There were, however, three major trends.
- Outlaw Movement (70s – Present)
A resistance to the repressive Nashville structure, Outlaw Country became huge in the 70s-80s. It’s a fusion of honky-tonk and rockabilly. On that note, who would not know The Highwaymen comprised by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson?
- Pop Country (70s – Present)
As early as the 1970’s, Nashville artists began incorporating “Pop” touches into their music. This move introduced their artistry to a wider audience. One, in particular, was Dolly Parton. To date, her songs transcend genres and were easy favorites both on the Country and Pop charts.
- Bro-Country ( 2010 –Present)
At the turn of 21st Century, this fusion of hip-hop and hard rock gained reception among Country Music consumers. But even being under the “Country” banner, Bro-Country is an outright reject to Purists who despise shallow lyrics and themes.
Other Popular Variations
Alternative Country, Americana, Contemporary Bluegrass, Contemporary Country, Country Gospel, Urban Cowboy, Red Dirt, Texas Country, Bakersfield Sound, and Swing.
These sub-genres weren’t even a definitive list as they are subject again to evolve. Suffice to say that regardless of the style, preferred instruments, themes, and lyrical arrangement, Country Music is predominantly conservative.
Stay tuned for more country music news.