Country has been a part of the music history ever since it separated from its roots (mainly folk music and western) and took on its current form.
There are quite a number of unique sub-genres to this music style, but they all have the same roots, and the easiest way to find a common element is by looking at the instruments. As the instruments vary to a very limited extent, it is possible to identify country music by its sound.
Now we will get into some of the most popular music Country music instruments and how they make this particular style different from the others.
Popular Traditional Instruments
The banjo is one of the most popular instruments when it comes to traditional Country Music.
It is not used as much in more recent generations of Country, but it remains as an icon for its special string sound, which makes Country music easily distinguishable. As an example we have the Nashville Sound, a subgenre of the Country Music which makes use of the banjo. The fiddle is another popular instrument and was usually combined in songs with the banjo. The song “The Devil Came Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels is a good example of a country style song using a fiddle.
The quick rhythm that is generally used with these Country music instruments and the high-pitched sounds are part of what makes a song sound Country. One can feel the influence in folk music and see how the tunes have their own personality, which makes this type of music different.
Modern Country Music Instruments
When Country music became popular and was embraced by a larger amount of the population, the Country music industry developed and the composers and musicians who became recognized started using music instruments which were commonly used in other music styles, like Pop and Rock. At the same time, Country music started to be more interlaced with Pop and Rock music. Some widely known artists like Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton, use the guitar, bass and even drums in their Country style music.
As Country music became mixed with other styles, the direction that this particular genre took in terms of sound was rather slow paced. Most of the popular songs that people know nowadays are ballads, or songs with slow rhythms. There are obvious exceptions.
Creedence Clearwater is an example of a combination of Country music and Rock, that is why occasionally, his songs are more hard in terms of rhythm and pace.
What is the “Sound” of Country Music?
We have just mentioned that when Country music became popular, the instruments used became different. However, it should be important to note that the main focus on the Country music has always been the guitar and voice. As we said before, the songs became slower paced and the music artists used their voice and the guitar for their songs. As a good example, we have John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country roads” which relies upon vocals, or Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, which is only his voice and a guitar.
So, what is the “sound” of Country Music? Nowadays, it would be difficult to define Country Music as something extremely specific, as it has several roots and influences.
Nevertheless, there is a common denominator that mainly all the artists follow, which is the importance of string-based instruments (banjo, guitar) and the voice. We have seen how the music has grown with times, but the roots are still strong and there are certainly a number of artists that are worth checking out in order to see how rich this music genre is.