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Music to Our Ears

Fans of traditional Appalachian folk music are in for a special treat this upcoming Friday, July 14th when the North Carolina two piece band House and Land roll into Pittsburgh for a free lunchtime concert at the CLP – Main Library in Oakland. (Pssst – they will also be playing an evening show while in town.)

For those unfamiliar with Appalachian folk tradition, Oxford Music online explains, “the musical idioms that are most characteristic and emblematic of the Southern Appalachia consist of balladry, dance tunes, and lyric folk song,” many of these styles originating in Scotland and Ireland before being brought over to the Southern regions of the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Of course, the sound of Appalachia has changed over the years, and for a more complete history of the region’s musical traditions I recommend checking out Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage From Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia. According to this wonderfully researched tome, ballads from Ireland and the British Isles have inevitably morphed over the years, as they merged with the sounds and songs of those migrating to the area from England, Germany, Wales, Africa, France, as well as the native Cherokee inhabitants of the region.

Should you not only want to read about the history of this music and its people, but actually listen to it, the library has hundreds of Smithsonian Folkways albums available for streaming online or for check out.

Hope to see you this Friday,

Tara is a Librarian in the Music, Film & Audio Department, and loves to make film & book recommendations. Some of her interests include gardening, cookbooks, foreign films, comedy albums and devastating literary fiction.

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