Bluegrass Music


This pathfinder is intended to be a starting point in research about bluegrass music. The genre originated from old-time, blues, Irish, and African music in the early 20th century. Bill Monroe is considered the founder of the music as he infused all these musical influences together in the 1940s. This pathfinder could be used as a guide to discovering more about the history of bluegrass music and the people who developed the genre. The works and texts can be found in the WNCLN (Western North Carolina Library Network) system. (University of North Carolina at Asheville, UNCA; Western Carolina University, WCU; Appalachian State University, ASU).

Introductory Text: 

Cantwell, Robert. Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984. See “Prologue” p. 5-18. ASU Special Collections ML3520 .C36 1984.

Goldsmith, Thomas. Ed. The Bluegrass Reader. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004. See “Introduction” p. 1-31. ASU Special Collections ML3520 .B54 2004.

Ledgin, Stephanie P. Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. See p. 1-52. ASU Special Collections ML3520 .L43 2004.

Rosenberg, Neil V. Bluegrass: A History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. “Introduction” p. 3-14. ASU Special Collections ML3520 .R67 1993.

Smith, Richard D. Bluegrass: An Informal Guide. Chicago: A Cappella Books, 1995. “Knee Deep in Bluegrass” p. 5-14, “The Preface as Chapter and Verse: Bill Monroe.” p. 15-30. UNCA General ML3520 .S65 1995.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Bluegrass Music
  • Bluegrass Music History and Criticism
  • Country Music - History and Criticism
  • Bluegrass Music Analysis Appreciation
  • Bluegrass Music Appalachian Region

Also Relevant:

  • Blue Grass Boys
  • Bluegrass Music Festivals
  • Grand Ole Opry (radio program)
  • Southern Music - American Music
  • Old Time Music - Southern States
  • Folk Music - United States
  • Bluegrass Music Fiction
  • Bluegrass Musicians - Biography
  • Fiddle Tunes - History and Criticism

More General:

  • Bluegrass Music Competitions
  • Bluegrass Music Directories
  • Bluegrass Music Discography
  • Bluegrass Music Encyclopedias
  • Bluegrass Music Anecdotes
  • Country Musicians


  • Popular Music Southern States History and Criticism
  • Gospel Music
  • Honky Tonk Music
  • Rockabilly Music
  • Western Swing (Music)
  • Popular Music - United States-History and criticism
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • ML1
  • ML 3519
  • ML 3520
  • ML 3561
  • ML 418
  • ML 419
  • ML 420
  • ML 421
  • ML 3477
  • ML 106
  • ML 156
  • ML 385
  • ML 394
  • ML 3523
  • ML 3524
  • PS 3569
  • PS 3561
  • ML 128
  • ML 394
  • M1 628
  • ML 3551

Cantwell, Robert. Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984. ASU Special Collections ML3520 .C36 1984.

Rosenberg, Neil V. Bluegrass: A History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. ASU Special Collections ML3520 .R67 1993.

Rosenberg, Neil V. “Image and Stereotype: Bluegrass Sound Tracks.” American Music, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Autumn, 1983), p. 1-22. University of Illinois Press. ASU Electronic Access (

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Miller, Terry E. Folk Music In America: A Reference Guide. New York: Garland Pub., 1986. See p. 166-171. ASU Special Collection ML128.F74 M5 1986.

Butterfield, Arthur. Encyclopedia of Country Music. New York: Gallery Books, 1985. See p. 66-83. ASU Special Collections ML102.C7 B88 1985.

Byworth, Tony. Ed. The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music. New York, NY: Billboard Books, 2007. See p. 70-91. ASU Special Collections ML102.C7 B55 2007 (Library Use Only).


Meade, Guthrie T., Jr., Dick Spottswood, and Douglas S. Meade. Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music. Chapel Hill, NC: Southern Folklife Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries in Association with the John Edwards Memorial Forum, 2002. ASU Special Collections ML156.4.F5 M43 2002 (Library Use Only).

Collection of Bibliographies of Appalachian Literature, Music, and Ballads. 1975-1994. ASU Special Collections Closed Z1251.A7 C65 1975 (Library use only).

Wolfe, Charles K. and Neil V. Rosenberg. Bluegrass 1950-1958, Bill Monroe. Discography by Neil V. Rosenberg. Vollersode, West Germany: Bear Family Records, 1989. ASU Special Collections ML156.7.M66 .W65 1989.

Abstracts and Indices: 

RILM Abstracts and Music Literature (


Academic OneFile (

American Song Database (

Dissertation Abstracts Online (


Bluegrass Unlimited. Monthly Publication. Broad Run, VA. ASU Special Collections has bound: v.2 1967- (scattered issues). ASU Special Collections ML1 .B68.

Bluegrass Music Profiles. Quarterly Publication. Nicholasville, KY: Bluegrass Publications. ASU Special Collections has Bound: March/April 2003-. ASU Special Collections ML3519 .B66

Banjo Newsletter. Monthly Publication. Greensboro, MD. ASU Special Collections has bound: v.1- 1973- . ASU Special Collections ML1 .B35.

Sing Out. New York City, NY: Peoples Artists, 1950-. ASU Special Collections has bound: v.24 no.2; v.25 no.4-6; v.26 no.1-2, no.6; v.27 no.1-4. ASU Special Collections ML1.S588.

Muleskinner News. Elon College, NC. ASU Special Collections has bound: v.1 no.1, Aug. 1969; v.3 no.3-10, May-Dec. 1972; v.4 no.1-8, Jan.-Aug. 1973. ASU Collections ML1 .M1948.

Cohen, Norm. “Bluegrass Music.” The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 101, No. 399 (Jan. - Mar., 1988), p. 63-73. American Folklore Society. ASU Electronic Access (

Lomax, Alan. “Bluegrass Background: Folk Music with Overdrive.” Alan Lomax: Selected Writings, 1934-1997; p. 200-202. Ed. Ronald D. Cohen. ASU Special Collections ML3551 .L65 2003.

Rosenberg, Neil V. “From Sound to Style: The Emergence of Bluegrass.” Journal of American Folklore. Vol. 80, p. 143-150. Los Angeles: John Edwards Memorial Foundation, 1967. ASU Special Collections ML3520 .R67 1967.

Audio and Video Sources: 

Rumble, John W. Ed. The Music of Bill Monroe : From 1936 to 1994. Universal City, CA: MCA Records, 1994, 1936. ASU Special Collections CDisc #199, disc 1-4 and book.

Bluegrass Journey. Dir. by Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer. Prod. Ruth Oxenberg and Rob Schumer. Bluegrass Productions. Germantown, NY: Blue Stores Films, 2003. ASU Special Collections Video DVDisc 81.

High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music. Written and directed by Rachel Liebling. Prod. Rachel Liebling and Andrew E. Serwer. Northside Films. Produced in association with Hampshire College, Amherst, MA. Newton, NJ: Shanachie Entertainment Corp., 1994. ASU Special Collections Video VC 40.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Rebecca Jones, 3 November 2009