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This article is about the style of old-time American music. The term string band also referred to the ensembles now known as scratch bands, part of the music of the Virgin Islands.

The string band is a subgenre of old-time music that spotlights a group of acoustic string instruments, sometimes even to the exclusion of vocals.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, other stringed instruments began to be added to the fiddle-banjo duo that was essential to dance music of the early 19th century United States. These other instruments included the guitar, mandolin, and double bass (or washtub bass), which provided chordal and bass line accompaniment (or occasionally melody also). Such an assemblage, of whatever instrumentation, became known simply as a "string band."

In the 1870s African-American dance houses of Cincinnati had musicians who played violin, banjo, and bass fiddle.[1] East of the Mississippi, the genre gave way to country music in the 1930s and bluegrass music in the 1940s. During the same period, west of the Mississippi, Western musicians retained the acoustic style of the bands while the big Western dance bands amplified their strings.


  1. ^ The Music of Black Americans: A History, by Eileen Southern, published by W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. pages 327,328. ISBN 0393038432, 9780393038439

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