Surrounding the Blue Ridge Music Center one finds many variations of the ancient fiddle and banjo music of Virginia and North Carolina. This music can be traced to the meeting of the African banjo and the European fiddle in the Tidewater before our nation was created. Here also are found older ballads and religious music that reach deeply into the American past.
ROOTS OF AMERICAN MUSIC Exhibition
At the Blue Ridge Music Center, the Roots of American Music exhibit tells the compelling story of the region's rich music heritage and serves as an insightful complement to the Midday Mountain Music performances and Summer Concert Series. Visitors can listen to and enjoy music while learning about the development and national significance of this part of Blue Ridge Mountain cultural heritage.
Children (and adults too) can mix and match song lyrics, mix their own versions of mountain music, and hear personal stories of how music has influenced generations of Blue Ridge families. Visitors will see examples of the many stages of the evolution of the five string banjo since its arrival in America with enslaved Africans. They will also see the relatively few changes made in the fiddle, brought with Europeans who migrated here. The blending of these two instruments was the beginning of virtually all forms of American music and was the ensemble that came to frontier Appalachia. There are also oral history audio programs of those who collected the music of the mountains in the past. How the recording industry and radio popularized and changed mountain music is also part of the story.
The Roots of American Music exhibition helps each visitor better understand and appreciate the complexity and richness of this part of our regional culture.
The exhibition is open during regular business hours and later on concert nights.