Country music is a genre popularized in the southern states of the US. The dominant influences of country music include folk music and the blues. Country music is famous because it focuses on ballads, lyrics, and beautiful harmonies. These days, country music is enjoyed by everyone in the country and has spread around the world with the help of some famous musicians and bands.
Perhaps one of the most noticeable characteristics of country music is the use of unique instruments. You will hear a lot of string instruments in country songs, accompanies by a lot of percussion. Here is a list of some instruments unique to country music.
A banjo is a unique string instrument circular in shape. It consists of four to six strings plucked or strummed. The distinct tone produced by a banjo is due to a bridge supporting the strings which rests directly on a stretched membrane or skin. According to historical records, banjos in America are loosely related to lute-type instruments used in Western Africa. The slave trade was responsible for bringing banjos into the mainland United States.
If you listen to a sub-genre of country music called ‘bluegrass’, the banjo is perhaps the most recognized instrument connected to country music. Since the earliest use of banjos in popular country music, enthusiasts have begun to take notice of its distinct and exciting sound. Many artists who play the banjo and were responsible for making country music mainstream also influenced a lot of budding musicians to learn to play. The movie industry also catapulted banjo playing to stardom, and many learn to play dueling banjos inspired by a famous Hollywood movie.
The dobro looks like an earlier version of what is now known as a steel guitar. The earliest known dobro was developed in the 1920s by the Dopyera Brothers. The signature sound of a dobro is its twang. A musician plays the dobro face up, using a series of picks and a metal bar for fretting the strings.
The mouth harmonica is another instrument often associated with country and western music. It was invented back in Europe back in the 1820s and was brought to the US by European immigrants. A harmonica only has a single key, which is why it is common to see a musician use multiple ones for different songs.
An accordion is a reed instrument which also came about in early 19th century Europe. This instrument is another cultural influence brought about by the massive immigration of Europeans to the US. The sound of an accordion is often used in western or cowboy music.
The fiddle is one of the principal country music instruments brought to the US from Great Britain. Many famous country music icons used a violin regardless of the style of music they play. Even before country music came about, the fiddle was a favorite instrument in most European countries used in traditional folk music and traditions. These days, it is an essential accompaniment to the country music style.