As a team, you will work together to gather information and then spread it throughout your designed exhibit. You will then virtually present your museum to the class in a powerpoint presentation.
Step 1. In order to get the necessary background information on the topic, read the questions below and then watch the following short film on Appalachian music and culture. Then, get together with your group and discuss your answers to the questions:
- Where does Appalachian music trace its roots?
- What other cultures influenced the shape and sound of Appalachian music?
- How was the music changed by these cultures?
- What different kinds of songs did the settlers bring with them?
- Describe the differences in instrumentation between Celtic music and Appalachian music.
- When they talk about "folk revitalization," what does that mean?
- What are some of the differences in the music between today's revitalized traditional music and the Appalachian music of a hundred or more years ago.
Step 2. Think about the possible research topics that were raised in the movie and brainstorm with your group partners. Divide up topics for research among your group. Though you are free to expand on the topics, you must organize them in the following chronological order:
- Early Celtic Roots of Appalachian music
- Traditional "old time" Appalachian music
- The Modern period: Bluegrass, Country, and "Modern" Old time music
Step 3. Now start your individual research. Each group member is to navigate the links at the bottom of each respective topic. Get familiar with the subject and compile all information you feel is important for your exhibit. Be sure to carefully cite all your sources. Once you have exhausted all the posted links, feel free to continue your own research using Google.
Step 4. Meet again with your group to categorize all of the research found. Determine what information is important and how it will best be presented to people who are visiting the exhibit. Again, make sure all documentation is cited.
Step 5. In PowerPoint, draw up a design of your museum and label each specific area of the exhibit. Include pictures, videos, audio recordings, and any other information which helps support the exhibit. Provide each powerpoint with a clear written description of the content. The viewers should be able to watch and understand your powerpoint without any narration.
Step 6. Final paper: After the exhibit is completed, each member of the group is to write a 2-3 page double spaced paper explaining the content of their part of the exhibit and how they chose to design the exhibit. Carefully edit the paper and cite all research that was used (see rubric).
Step 7. Present the Powerpoint demonstration to the class.
Bonus: Go the extra mile for President Obama and his daughters! Do one of the following extra credit projects:
- Construct an instrument and use it to demonstrate an Appalachian style of music.
- Write a folksong and perform it for the class.
Area A: The Early Celtic Roots
In order to understand Appalachian music, it is very helpful to explore its Scotch-Irish roots. Watch these short films to get a feel for the style of this music. Then, follow other links to get acquainted with the early history of the Scotch-Irish in the United States.
- Check out traditional Scottish musician, Julie Fowlis. Julie's music is a direct descendant of the style that was brought to the Appalachians from Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Check out Julie's home town of North Utis on Googlemaps:
- Here's another traditional Scottish Ulster Band, the Ulster Scotts Orchestra:
- Get familiar with the geography of Northern Ireland. This is where the Ulsters moved from Scotland to settle beginning in the 1600's. Explore this link:
- Nova Scotia is also a great place to hear traditional Scottish music. Many Scotts began to settle there in the 1600's and their musical traditions have continued to this day. Due to the isolation of the place, many people believe that the purest Scottish traditional music is today found more in Nova Scotia than in Scotland. Watch these clips to get a feel for the Scottish music that first was brought to North America:
- Get familiar with the Geography of Nova Scotia. Here's a link for you to explore on Google Maps:
- Here are a few brief articles discussing the history of the Ulster-Scots and their shared history with the United States:
Area B: Traditional Old Time Appalachian Music
The music that the Scotch-Irish brought into the mountains of Appalachia instantly began to be influenced by different cultures. The introduction of new instruments and different rhythmical beats gave rise to a music that was uniquely American. Watch these short films to get a feel for the style of this music. Then, follow other links to get acquainted with this music's history and the many cultural forces that had a hand in creating its sound.
- Here's a video of North Carolina Old Time Fiddler,Tommy Jarrel. Notice the three instruments that have been added to the mix since the old Scotch-Irish days-- guitar, banjo, and Mandolin:
- The introduction of the banjo to Appalachian music brought a big change to the sound of the music. People playing banjo in the old time style often use what's called a "clawhammer" technique. This style gives the music a distinctive bouncy new rhythm. Check it out:
- Here's a great video documenting the history of the banjo in the United States and its place in Appalachian music:
Here's a video of traditional singer, Jean Ritchie along with Old Time musician Mike Seeger. Jean is playing a "Mountain dulcimer" which is an instrument thought to be a native of the Appalachian mountains and an invention of Scotch-Irish settlers:
Here's another video of Jean Ritchie. This time she sings the old traditional song called Shady Grove while playing Dulcimer:
Here's a video of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Notice the syncopated rhythms of their playing. This was an influence of African culture and is a key distinction of Appalachian music:
Here's a video of Norman Blake playing his tune Billy Gray's Lament. This is an excellent example of an Old Time style ballad:
- Article from Smithsonian Folkways discussing the emergence of old time string band music in Virginia:
- Article From The traditional Music Library, an excellent archive of traditional Celtic and American music:
Area C: The Birth of Bluegrass
In the 1930's a new faster paced style of music called "Bluegrass" grew out of the Old Time Appalachian music style. Bluegrass combined the lonely sound of Appalachian music with the fast pace of jazz. Bill Monroe is often called the father of Bluegrass. He once described the music like this:
"It's got a hard drive to it. It's Scotch bagpipes and old time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz and it has a high lonesome sound. It's plain music that tells a good story. It's played from my heart to your heart, and it will touch you."
the clips below and read about its history. Consider how Bluegrass is
different than Old Time Appalachian music and consider how it is the
- Snuffy Jenkins is often thought of as one of the key links between bluegrass and old time music. He is often credited for inventing what is called a "three fingered" banjo style. This was a faster, more rolling sound than the two fingered style. The three fingered banjo style produces a sound distinctive to bluegrass music. Watch Snuffy here as he demonstrates it:
- This video is of Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. This band is often given credit for making the style of music which first was coined "bluegrass."
- Here is the Jeff and Vida Band playing an old time tune called Shady Grove. Compare how different their modern bluegrass style is to the old time style used by Jean Ritchie:
- This video is of Western North Carolina's Steep Canyon Rangers. They are one of the new upcoming bluegrass bands and their sound is often thought to represent the direction of bluegrass in the future. Compare their instrumentation to Old Time music and even older styles of bluegrass like Bill Monroe.
- This is a great article from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) that discusses the history of bluegrass:
- This article focuses on the history of bluegrass music in Western North Carolina:
- This is a great interactive historical site for bluegrass music:
Don't forget the Bonus! You were contacted at the last minute by the people at the Smithsonian. They said President Obama and his daughters are planning to visit the booth. He asked if your group could make the booth more interactive for his daughters. He wants you to show them how instruments are made. Also, he wishes to commission members of your group to write and perform an Appalachian style song. Don't let them down!
- Making Intruments: There is an excellent web resource that shows how to make a variety of different instruments from common household items. Many of these are very cool and also sound pretty good. See if you can make an instrument from this site and play it for the class. The link for this site is: www.mudcat.org/kids/bongos.cfm
- Song Writing: Write and perform an Appalachian style song as part of your exhibit. Find inspiration, perhaps, in one of the many videos that were posted for you. Write about real events or feelings in your every day life. Some great advice for this task can be found at the following sites: