In the past decade, Americana music has grown in popularity. That being said, most Americana artists aren’t considering printing album sleeves with photos of classic cars or rural farmhouses on the cover.
Americana is an umbrella term for many styles of music, including roots music and country. The subgenre, Americana, is attracting more and more attention on the internet. This article will help you learn more about the Americana subgenre.
What Is Americana Music?
Americana music is a broad musical genre that includes a wide range of musical styles. From folk to rock to alternative country and more, Americana music is essentially a mixture of modern country, folk, rock, blues, bluegrass, and R&B.
In fact, one way to define the Americana genre is by saying it’s a hybrid of different musical styles with roots in traditional American genres.
What Are the Origins of Americana Music?
The first time we heard the term “Americana” was in the 1990s, as part of a self-conscious attempt by musicians to create a distinct genre. A few years later, the Academy of Americana Music formalized their efforts by creating an awards show and establishing criteria for the genre.
For the most part, Americana is associated with country music—and more specifically, with country singers who want to distinguish themselves from mainstream pop stars like Shania Twain or Garth Brooks.
According to two prominent scholars and fans of the genre, Americana is distinct from country because it draws on elements from other genres. These include blues, jazz music, folk music, gospel music, and even classical piano!
Characteristics of Americana
- It is an alternative form of country music, and also blends folk, rock, and blues;
- It refers to older roots sounds as well as newer forms (meaning it encompasses many decades and different forms);
- Its sound draws on roots genres—music that preceded rock ‘n’ roll;
- It is often not considered mainstream by record companies.
What is the difference between Americana and country music?
It’s important to note that the term “Americana” is a catchall phrase for music that falls outside the mainstream country realm. That doesn’t mean that it’s automatically considered independent, however. If you’re listening to Americana, you might be experiencing more experimental techniques and ideas than in your typical country song.
Americana albums don’t come close to achieving those levels of success. Americana music has a much smaller audience than country music does as a whole (though many fans listen to both genres).
How is Americana Different From Other Genres?
While it’s easy to hear the country influence in Americana music, it’s a little more misleading to say that Americana is just an umbrella term for all types of music with a country influence.
While both American and folk artists have been known for covering traditional songs and creating new ones, guitar legend Bob Dylan once famously said that he didn’t play folk music, but rather “American popular songs”. So, what makes these genres so different?
The main difference is that while there are still many similarities between the two genres, folk music has typically focused more on being influenced by all types of styles (including blues, rock, and bluegrass), whereas Americana tends to be more focused on preserving its roots in older styles such as country and bluegrass.
In this article, we’ve introduced you to some history and individual characteristics that make up Americana music. So, one question: will Americana music be around forever? In a word, no.
But it will always have a place in American life, which is why we can expect this genre to stick around for quite some time. If you like good old-fashioned music, give Americana a try! You might discover a new favorite artist or album in the process.