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Country music Terms, Dictionary and Definitions

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Country music Terms, Dictionary and Definitions


This was the group of studio musicians back in the Nashville Sound period (1960s - 1970s) that were used on virtually every hit record.


A reed instrument worn like a vest, with right and left hand keyboards. The accordion is used primarily in conjunto, tejano and cowboy musics. Jimmy C. Newman offers a cajun approach to the instrument, while Flaco Jimenez is the most popular accordionist playing conjunto today.
ACM Academy of Country Music. Host of the spring country music award show.
Acoustic A performance of music with non-electronic instruments.
Americana Is an amalgam of roots musics formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influential styles. Americana is popularly referred to, especially in print, as alternative country, alt-country or sometimes
Autoharp A member of the zither family. It's played by strumming the strings with one hand while the other hand controls a bar which damps those strings not in the chord. It was made famous by Sara Carter of The Carter Family.
Bakersfield Sound Style of music influenced by rock and roll and traditional country. Was created in contrast to the Nashville Sound that was filling the country airwaves in the 50s and 60s. Popular artists include Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Dwight Yoakam.
Banjo A plucked stringed instrument whose distinctive tones stem from the strings being supported by a bridge that rests on a tightly stretched skin membrane. Banjos were brought to America from Africa by early slaves. The banjo is the most recognizable instrument associated with country music. There are several types, including the four-string tenors, the plectrums (played with a plectrum, and similar to the five-string, but no fifth string), and six-string guitar-banjos. The most common today is the five-string model.
Baron of Bakersfield Nickname for country music legend Buck Owens.
Bluegrass Bluegrass emphasizes the Appalachian roots of the genre. It's played quickly and precisely on instruments such as the mandolin, fiddle, Dobro, and banjo. Bill Monroe is the pioneer in this form of country music. Other classic artists are Flatt and Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, and the Del McCourey Band. A jazzier style of Bluegrass, sometimes referred to as "Newgrass" spawned artists such as New Grass Revival, Bela Fleck and David Grisman. A more pop style of Bluegrass has been made popular by Alison Krauss + Union Station.
Cajun This style of music originated with the French-speaking Arcadian people from the bayou region of southwest Louisiana. The music is centered around accordian and fiddle, with an occasional drummer. Popular artists of this style include Jimmy C. Newman, Doug Kershaw and Eddy Raven.
CCMA Canadian Country Music Association.
CMA Country Music Association. Host of the fall country music awards show.
CMA Music Festival This is the new name for Fan Fair starting in 2004.
CMT Country Music Association. Host of the fall country music awards show.
Coal Miner's Daughter Nickname of Loretta Lynn.
Conjunto This style of music originated in the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1800s. Conjunto bands blend polka and waltz rhythms with Mexican folk music. Flaco Jimenez and the Texas Tornados are two of the genre's most noted performers.
Country Music Style of music based on the music of cowboys in the American West or the folk style of the southern rural United States.
Country Music Hall of Fame The Country Music Hall of Fame is devoted to the recognition of noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to Country Music. Founded in 1961 by the Country Music Association, the Hall of Fame currently counts 86 individual and groups among members.
Countrypolitan Nashville Sound The Golden Age of Nashville
Country Pop New Country is slick and highly produced, pop-oriented country which is played on commercial country radio and video channels. Some of the most popular artists in this genre are Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Kenny Chesney.
Country Rock This is rock with a twang. Some popular artists in this genre include the Eagles, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Doug Sahm, and Linda Ronstadt. Also known as Hard Country.
Cowboy Country With America's fascination of the Old West, Cowboy music became popular in the films of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Other cowboy singers include The Sons of the Pioneers, Riders in the Sky, and Michael Martin Murphey.
Dobro Precursor to the steel guitar, it was invented by the Dopyera Brothers in the 1920s. It's a twangy cousin to the slide guitar. It's played face up with a series of finger picks and a metal bar which is used to fret strings. Bashful Brother Oswald first popularized the instrument as one of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. Today Jerry Douglas and Mike Auldridge are today's masters of the instrument.
Dulcimer There are two types of dulcimers; the three-stringed mountain or Appalachian dulcimer, which is strummed or plucked, and the hammered dulcimer, which consists of sets of strings across two bridges which are affixed to a trapezoid-shaped box, and played by striking the strings with small hammers.
Early Country The earliest country was descended from ballads and folk songs brought by immigrants from the British Isles in the 18th and 19th centuries. Two of the most popular artists of this time were The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.
Fan Clubs Most artists have an organization where fans can get information on the artist as well as tour dates, meet and greets, photos, newsletters, and some even offer VIP seats to their concerts to members of the club. Some fan clubs are online only.
Fan Fair Festival held in June each year where country music artists meet their fans. Besides performances, many artists also spend time in their autograph booths meeting and taking pictures with fans and signing autographs. This is usually the time when most artists have their annual Fan Club parties. In 2004, will be called CMA Music Festival.
Fiddle Also known as a violin. The fiddle came to America from the British Isles. John Carson was one of the first fiddlers to be recorded, in 1923. The fiddle lies at the heart of many music styles. Bob Wills built the Western Swing sound around the fiddle. Bill Monroe also put the fiddle at the heart of the Bluegrass sound.
First Lady of Country Music Nickname for Tammy Wynette.
GAC Great American Country. Cable video channel. Viewership is second to CMT. New home for the televised Grand Ole Opry performances.
Grand Ole Opry Originally called the WSM Barn Dance. Named the Grand Ole Opry by announcer George D. Hay (the Solemn Old Judge) in 1925. The show consisted of performances of country stars of the day, and was carried by WSM radio up until 1939, when NBC carried the show. Currently the Saturday night performance of the Opry is carried on GAC.
Hard Country This is rock with a twang. Some popular artists in this genre include the Eagles, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Doug Sahm, and Linda Ronstadt. Also known as Country Rock.
Hillbilly Shakespeare Nickname for Hank Williams, Sr.
Honky Tonk This is probably the most recognizable type of country music with its rhythm guitar, steel guitar and wailing vocal style. The best representatives of this style of country are Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb.
King of Country Music Nickname for Roy Acuff.
Mandolin A short-necked instrument with eight paired strings. Luthier Orville Gibson introduced the flat-backed, scroll-bodied mandolin in 1898. When designer Lloyd Loar introduced his improvement of this design, the Gibson F-series mandolin in 1923, the model's improved tone and greater volume enhanced the mandolin's appeal. Bill Monroe became the mandolin's first country-style virtuoso and brought the instrument into new prominence when he joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1939.
Meet and Greet Before or sometimes after a show, many stars meet their fans for photos and autographs. Most of the time you need to be a member of the artist's fan club, or win a contest to get backstage.
Mother Church of Country Music This is the name of the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 - 1974.
Nashville Capitol of country music. Home of the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, Fan Fair, and numerous record labels.
Nashville Sound This type of country was created in the late 50s, which included piano, strings and background vocals over the more traditional sounds of banjo and fiddle. The two producers responsible for the "sound" were Owen Bradley and Chet Atkins. Popular artists of this style include Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, and Eddy Arnold.
Neo Traditionalism This style was a throwback when musical integrity was more important than image. Ricky Skaggs, a picking prodigy, who was inspired by Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley went against the norm and brought country back to its roots. Also part of this genre were Randy Travis, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and the Judds.
New Country New Country is slick and highly produced, pop-oriented country which is played on commercial country radio and video channels. Some of the most popular artists in this genre are Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Kenny Chesney.
Outlaw Country Outlaw Country was the opposition by some artists to the Nashville Sound. It came into bloom in the mid-70s, and was a return to mainline country and a rebellion against the production system. Famous artists in this genre include Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Jessi Colter, and Tompal Glaser.
Poet of the Common Man Nickname for Merle Haggard.
Poptry See new Country.
Possum Nickname of George Jones.
Queen of Country Music Nickname of Miss Kitty Wells.
Red-Headed Stranger Nickname for Willie Nelson.
Rockabilly This style of music was invented by Elvis Presley and Sun Records guru Sam Phillips. A band would usually consist of a guitar, drums, and the upright bass. The singer, whose voice is usually recorded with “slapback” echo, belts it out into the mic. Other popular Rockabilly artists are Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
Ryman Auditorium The Ryman first opened its doors in 1892, and was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974.
Set List List of songs an artist plans to perform during a particular show.
Studio Musicians Musicians with exceptional skill that play on many different artist's recordings. Most artists use studio musicians rather than their own bands for recording, however there are some exceptions.
Steel Guitar The steel guitar differs from a regular guitar in the way that it's played. The lap steel guitar is held on your lap facing you. The strings are raised above the fretboard; rather than pressing them to the fretboard, a steel bar is pressed against the strings. The pedal steel guitar is distantly related to the Hawaiian steel. It's a very complicated instrument to learn, and in country music circles it's considered to be the instrument that separates the men from the boys.
Street Teams Street Teams are organizations of fans helping to promote their favorite artists. Labels organize the fans who then pass out flyers at shows and make sure they get votes on fan-voted awards. They also call in to the Video Channels (CMT and GAC) to get their videos played.
Tater Nickname of Little Jimmy Dickens.
Tejano Musical style based on traditional Mexican music, Tejano is distinguised by upbeat lyrics and dancable music. Emilio and most recently john Arthur martinez are two of the popular artists in this genre.
Texas Troubador Nickname of Ernest Tubb.
The Golden Age of Nashville This is another name for the Nashville Sound
The Hag Nickname of Merle Haggard.
The King of Country Music Nickname of Roy Acuff.
The King of the Cowboys Nickname of Roy Rogers.
The King of Western Swing Texas born Bob Wills was the co-founder of the musical style known as Western Swing. This is how he got the nickname "The King of Western Swing."
The Man in Black Nickname for Johnny Cash.
The Singing Brakeman Nickname for Jimmie Rodgers.
The Tall Texan Nickname of Billy Walker.
Violin See Fiddle
Western Swing This type of country music took traditional string bands and incorporated a Big Band sound and elements of popular 30s music such as show tunes. The figurehead of this style of music is Bob Wills, with Tex Williams and Milton Brown also prominent in the style. In today's music, Asleep at the Wheel continues the tradition of Western Swing.
Zydeco This is a hard driving electric music that emerged from Cajun and Creole cultures of Louisiana's bayou. The music is sung in French, and steeped in blues and African influences, usually featuring a washboard. C.J. Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco lead two of the hottest zydeco bands.











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