The Library of Virginia


Virginia Roots Music - Creating and Conserving Tradition


  Virginia Roots Music
Creating and Conserving Tradition
July 8, 2002 - March 22, 2003
Open Monday - Saturday
9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

In the two decades before World War II, folklorists and recording companies collected and recorded Virginia music that formed the bedrock of the country, blues, and gospel music traditions that exist today. Both the collectors and the recorders responded to fundamental changes in the economy, technology, and society of America and the South as phonographs and radio began to spread traditional musical forms to a wider audience. Early folklorists feared that radio and records would dilute the "pure" music of the American "folk" and determined to document and preserve these musical traditions before their inevitable demise. Record companies and radio stations, on the other hand, began searching out "old-time" and "race" artists to feed a growing commercial audience. Eagerly selling the music through new technology, they also marketed the songs and musicians as an expression of a more-authentic American past.

Before Recordings


New Technology Early Field Recordings Early Commercial Recording Sessions Over the Airwaves Creating Traditional Culture The Interplay of Musical Styles
"Old Times Tunes" in Southwest Virginia The Family Band Mill to Microphone Piedmont Blues Tidewater Tradition Suggested Activities for Teachers Further Information

All Recordings
All Recordings


Sound files for "Virginia Roots Music" can be found throughout these web pages. The Victor record label (at left) indicates a link to a sound file. Click here on "All Recordings" for access to all of the songs contained on this pages.  You can also listen to songs on subsequent pages by clicking on individual song titles.  

The sound files contained here are in the mp3 format.  If you have problems playing the sound files, try consulting the links listed below. 

MP3 Software Players
Configuring your Web Browser to Play MP3


The Library of Virginia thanks Kip Lornell (Africana Studies Program, George Washington University), J. Vaughan Webb Jr. and J. Roderick Moore (Blue Ridge Institute, Ferrum College), Charles and Nancy Perdue (University of Virginia), Timothy A. Thompson, and Ron T. Curry for their help and support.