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Country music, also known as country and western music or country-western, is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States. It has roots in traditional folk music, Celtic music, blues, gospel music, and old-time music and evolved rapidly in the 1920s. The term country music began to be widely applied in the 1940s and was fully embraced in the 1970s, while country and western declined in use.

However, country music is actually a catch-all category that embraces several different genres of music: Nashville sound (the pop-like music very popular in the 1960s); bluegrass, a fast mandolin, banjo and fiddle-based music popularized by Bill Monroe and by Flatt and Scruggs; Western, which encompasses traditional Western cowboy campfire ballads and Hollywood cowboy music made famous by Roy Rogers, The Sons of the Pioneers, and Gene Autry; Western swing, a sophisticated dance music popularized by Bob Wills; the Bakersfield sound which used the new Fender Telecaster guitars, a big drum beat, and dance style music that would catch your attention like "a freight train running (Buck Owens)" (popularized by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard); outlaw country made famous in the 1970's by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, David Alan Coe, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mickey Newbury, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams, Jr.,; Cajun style music from the Louisiana Bayou; zydeco; Evangelical Christian inspired gospel; oldtime (generally pre-1930 folk music); honky tonk; Appalachian; rockabilly; neotraditional country; and jug band.

Each style is unique in its execution, its use of rhythms, and its chord structures, though many songs have been adapted to the different country styles. One example is the tune "Milk Cow Blues", an early blues tune by Kokomo Arnold that has been performed in a wide variety of country styles by everyone from Aerosmith to Bob Wills to Willie Nelson, George Strait to Ricky Nelson and Elvis Presley.






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