In the 18th century

In the 18th century, many Europeans from Ireland, Scotland, and Germany came to the Appalachian Mountains to begin new lives.
The U.S. was now their home, but these Appalachian communities continued the European music and dance traditions they loved. Over time, the music mixed with that of African slaves and became its own. It is called old-time music.

Gerry Milnes is a musician and folklorist from Elkins, West Virginia. He says the culture of the Appalachian people has survived throughout time because they lived far from other groups.

“The sort of earliest culture that arrived here in that period has really maintained those old traditions. It’s both dialect, and music and customs and traditions and folk ways of all kinds… have a particular Appalachian sensibility to them.”

Bringing communities together

The instruments used to make old-time music usually include guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and bass.