Discover mountain music history in the Roots of American Music Museum.

Surrounding the Blue Ridge Music Center, one finds many variations of the endemic fiddle and banjo music tradition of Virginia and North Carolina. This music can be traced to the meeting of the African banjo and the European fiddle before our nation was created. Here also are found older ballads and religious music that reach deeply into the American past.

The Roots of American Music Museum tells the compelling story of the region’s rich musical heritage through interactive displays, family and performers’ histories, musical recordings, and instruments. From the old-time string bands, ballad singing, and dancing that define the traditional music of Southwest Virginia, Northwest North Carolina and Tennessee, to blues influences and growth of bluegrass, the exhibit traces the musical origins of the roots-based folk and Americana music of today.

The museum explores how the blending of the sounds of the banjo and fiddle on the Appalachian frontier led to virtually all forms of American music. Visitors can trace the many stages in the evolution of the five string banjo since its arrival in America with enslaved Africans. In contrast, the fiddle brought with European immigrants underwent very few changes.

Virtual Tour

Thanks to a new Matterport 3D virtual tour, the Roots of American Music Museum is accessible year-round. The online experience allows viewers to explore the history of Blue Ridge Mountain music, including its origins, the key instruments in its evolution, and the musicians who made it famous.


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