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WHAT IS COUNTRY MUSIC
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What is Country Music?
Whenever people talk about country music, the question arises about how to define it? There are more different views than there are songs. Here are some answers!
A) Years ago John Minson and Max Ellis were on a promotional trip for the Tamworth Festival and in the course of talking to a number of journalists whose total knowledge of country music was two words… Slim Dusty… they kept getting asked just what was meant by the term Country Music.
Of course the answer is that Country Music means different things to different people. Ask 20 people and you’ll get 20 answers. Most of them are unequivocally positive that their definition is the only authorised version. Sounds religious? That’s because for many it is a matter of faith, with different denominations conducting a war of words over which version is the true gospel.
So John and Max, as practical types, attempted a general specification summarising some of the specific characteristics which set country aside from other types of music.
1 A simple Chord progression. Generally country depends on a limited number of chords. It is not musically complicated and this certainly contributes to its popularity and playability.
2 Country music should have a strong story line. “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” or “Pub With No Beer”, illustrate the point.
3 The song should have a simple and memorable chorus, which supports the storyline and is one reason so many people find it easy to recall and sing a good country song.
4 Identifiable instrumentation. Organs, orchestras, strings, wind instruments are NOT country. Guitars, banjos, fiddles, pedal steel guitars, harmonicas definitely are. There are exceptions of course but instruments must be played in a country manner.
Some say that geographic locations are a factor, insisting that a non urban setting is an essential ingredient. But there are plenty of examples of successful country songs that don’t have country locations.
Simple chords, Strong storyline, Memorable chorus, country Instruments.
Adapted from a story in Capital News September 1981
Here are some more definitions
A) Must sound like Tex, Buddy or Slim in the 40s and 50s and be about some aspect of rural life.
B) If it sounds like country it is.
C) If the cheque comes from Nashville, it's country!
D) Finally a definition from a multinational advertising agency discussing “country” from a life style and marketing point of view. Not specifically about music but country music is identified as a influential element in this general “country”.
"Country" exists as a cluster of attitudes, beliefs, symbols and signs in the minds of consumers, giving us clear messages about their aspirations. It represents simplicity, purity and authenticity, a quality of life made up of relationships and roost; it conveys warmth and friendliness. These are all qualities that consumers in the pressured and uncertain '90s value and that are all the more powerful because they represent our yearnings, not the reality of our lives."
Take your Pick!!!!
If you have any good definitions you think people would like to hear let us know.
Peter Winkler, first and long time Director of the College of Country Music, composer, record producer, audio engineer and educator went to Camerata in June 2009 where he was asked "What is Country Music?"
"We all have difficulties in defining Country Music. The genre has been expanding to include many different styles from traditional bush ballads right through to something called 'Alternative Country'. At the Country Music College, we approach the definition from a different angle. Rather than trying to define what is Country Music, we keep our minds open while having a general consensus about what is not Country Music. Our staff and students accept that method of definition."