Old Time music is loosely defined as the body of music that ordinary, non- classically trained musicians played in the United States in the years prior to the development of modern media. It is “Roots” music in that it is the foundation of the Bluegrass, Country, Folk and Rock that followed. The folks that played it were musicians of the highest quality. They would play for themselves, their families, and for local gatherings in their community, often developing distinctive regional styles. The vocal styles were also unique, being influenced by ancient songs and stories of the British Isles. When Alan Lomax was collecting folk music for the Smithsonian, he found songs being sung in the he Appalachians which had been long forgotten in the land of their origin. Thus, Old Time music is real people’s music, with deep roots in the past.
Scholars of Old Time can debate long and passionately about the tiniest details, such as wether a certain fiddler’s version of Sally Ann is more Round Peak or Kentucky style. But while the debates continue, the music plays on. Old Time musicians can choose to play exactly like the old recordings, or can play the tunes with their own way. Old Time Music festivals and workshops occur in every state, making the music accessible to anyone who is curious about the style. The intricate melodies and infectious rhythms are appealing to many musicians who are tired of the empty commerciality of other popular styles. Simple yet complex, ancient yet new, the Old Time music of today is in good shape, and likely to continue to win fans long into the future.