Sunday, January 20, 2013

What is old-time music?

What is old-time music?

''...before we had radio and phonographs, folks used
the music to entertain themselves; a lot more people
played music in those days, before you could push
a button and rely on others to make it for you.

In the pre-electronic days you always had to make
your own music or be real near to some one who
was making the music, to hear it when it was actually
being made. There wasn't a music market and not much
money around, so except for a few minstrel shows
and occasional schoolhouse and medicine shows
even exceptional musicians gained only local, informal
popularity and retained their "day jobs" in agriculture

 or small-town mills.

The music from these earlier, old times endured through
the generations because of its rich and varied sounds and
lyrics and because it filled the needs of the people, who,
after all, created it for themselves.

Now that we have radio, TV, CDs, and so much electrical
gadgetry this music might seem old-fashioned. Or in other
words, enduring and timeless.

Sometimes in interviews I'm asked,
"Why do you play old-time music?"

I suppose they ask that because it's old and, by implication
and also in reality, non-commercial. I suspect that many
of us play this older style music for some of the same reasons
that most bluegrass musicians play bluegrass, because we
like it and it fits us.

We can think of all kinds of reasons such as "I was raised
with it," "I like its sound," "I like to be able to play the music
myself or with friends without plugging in," and I can add
"it's timeless, meaningful and I value its continuity with
the past." All of those and more fit me.

I can talk on and on about reasons for liking old-time
and bluegrass music but really it all boils down
to "it just suits me...''

Mike Seeger

if you're into music and don't know who Mike Seeger is,
you should... if you know who he is, you's probably enjoy
these links too:

Mike Seeger - Last Known Interview

Lonesome Liz's Outlaw Arts Page

Mike Seeger

SFC Photo of the Week: Mike Seeger


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