Authentic Old Time Music (Old Timey Music)

By:  Buzz of the Orient  •  3 weeks ago  •  12 comments

Authentic Old Time Music (Old Timey Music)

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Authentic Old Time Music (Old Timey Music)

It is doubtful that most members of this site are familiar with Old Time Music, but if you have seen the movie O Brother Where Art Thou you have listened to a version of it.  I say a 'version' because authentic Old Time Music is usually not so nice-sounding as more contemporary musicians perform it.  Most people have not heard songs of this type performed by their original authentic musicians, but updated prettier versions.  It has also been called Mountain Music or Appalachian Music. 

Authentic, or genuine Old Time Music consists of songs usually sung by a sole performer (although there are exceptions), normally accompanied by a banjo, and often with a guitar and/or a fiddle.  However there are other instruments that have been used to accompany singers, such as an Appalachian dulcimer, mandolin, autoharp, hammered dulcimer, jews harp, washtub bass, washboard, and even the spoons.

In my personal collection of instruments I had a 6 string guitar, a 12 string guitar, a banjo, a mandolin, an autoharp and my favourite instrument, an Appalachian dulcimer.  When I left Canada, I gave all those instruments to my son.

As defined by Wikipedia:

"Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music. It developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dancing, clogging, and buck dancing. It is played on acoustic instruments, generally centering on a combination of fiddle and plucked string instruments, most often the banjo, guitar, and mandolin."

Here are some examples of genuine Old Time Music, sung by authentic performers from days past.  You are bound to find these songs by these performers on YouTube if you are unable to open my links. 

Man of Constant Sorrow - Emry Arthur 



Otto Wood The Bandit - The Carolina Buddies



Tom Dooley - Frank Proffitt



Wildwood Flower - The Carter Family


June Carter was married to Johnny Cash 



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Buzz of the Orient
1  author  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago

Somehow I don't think there are many aficionados of authentic American Old Time Music, but if you don't know it, since almost all of you are Americans, you should at least familiarize yourself with it.

Buzz of the Orient
2  author  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago

The musical instruments in the picture at the top of the page are 2 guitars, a mandolin, an autoharp, a banjo and in the rear a hammered dulcimer.  What is not in the photo is an Appalachian dulcimer, so below is a photo of me at home in Canada playing my Appalachian dulcimer.  I bought it directly from Lyn McSpadden, the craftsman who made it, while I was at the Fox Hollow Folk Festival in upstate New York, which was run on the family estate of the Beers Family.  Of all the folk festivals I have been to, the Newport Folk Festival, The Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Festival of American Folk Life (in front of the Smithsonian), and the one I was involved in running, Toronto's Mariposa Folk Festival, the Beers Family Fox Hollow Festival was the smallest, and provided the most authentic American folk music of all.

You can see my vintage Gibson B-45 12 string guitar, and Kavika will know who the artist was who did the picture on the wall. 


Bob Nelson
3  Bob Nelson    3 weeks ago

Ancestors of bluegrass? The Carter Family certainly seems to be. The others are more in the solo artist tradition? (Guthrie?) 

Buzz of the Orient
4  author  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago

Bluegrass as a genre grew out of old time music - I guess the Carter Family were transitional, but it was the only song of theirs I have access to - it's probably their most famous one.  Woodie Guthrie is a step up towards more current folk singer-songwriters. 

5  Kavika     3 weeks ago

Morning Buzz,

Interesting article. Couldn't old-time blues music fit into this category?

Oh, I surely recognize the artist, none other than Norval Morrisseau. (Copper Thunderbird)

Buzz of the Orient
5.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Kavika @5    3 weeks ago

The Blues, even the old-time Blues, is considered a different genre, even if it arose at around the same time as Old Time Music.  As for the artist - give that man a cigar.  Besides Morrisseau's major painting that you've seen, I had a set of his signed prints that we framed (that being one of them), besides the works of other First Nation artists.  I just don't have photos of them and unfortunately don't remember their names. 

6  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

Gentle On My Mind (Live)  - John Hartford

John Hartford was a mainstay of "Americana" music for decades.  In this video he even provides the percussion for the performance by shuffling his feet to the music. 



John Hartford

John Cowan Hartford was an American folk, country, and bluegrass composer and musician known for his mastery of the fiddle and banjo, as well as for his witty lyrics, unique vocal style, and extensive knowledge of Mississippi River lore. His most successful song is "Gentle on My Mind", which won three Grammy Awards and was listed in "BMI's Top 100 So…
Buzz of the Orient
6.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  JohnRussell @6    3 weeks ago

Okay, let's call that Old Timey Bluegrass revival music.  Very fancy footwork.  LOL

7  MonsterMash    3 weeks ago

Buzz of the Orient
7.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @7    3 weeks ago

Thanks for the Bluegrass and memory of the movie.

8  MonsterMash    3 weeks ago

Buzz of the Orient
8.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @8    3 weeks ago

I don't have access to that song, so I'll assume what I told John.


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