The High Lonesome Sound Defined: Examining The Music Of Bill Monroe, 1945-1948

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Zachary David Fulbright (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Gary Boye

Abstract: The term "high lonesome sound" has for many years been used to describe the sound of bluegrass and some folk music. The exact origination of the term is fuzzy at best and the source of many heated scholarly discussions. In contrast to what others have previously said, the music does not sound "high and lonesome" because the singer is singing in the upper register, nor does it sound "high and lonesome" because of intricate rhythmic relationships. Rather, the "high lonesome" sound comes from a detailed relationship between linear movement in composition, identifiable through the manipulation of third, fifth, and seventh scale degrees, and "driving" rhythmic design, as well as intricate harmonic relationships that can be traced back to early popular and traditional influences.

Additional Information

Fulbright, Z. (2009). "The High Lonesome Sound Defined: Examining The Music Of Bill Monroe, 1945-1948." Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2009
Bill Monroe, bluegrass, folk music, music

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