Appalachian Music Program

The Appalachian music program at Warren Wilson College reflects the rich traditions of music and dance of the southern mountains. The Music Department offers a Music Minor with a concentration in Traditional Music that focuses on the music and dance traditions of the southern Appalachian region. Classes are offered in some of the common Appalachian instruments as well as dancing, and students can participate in old-time stringband and bluegrass ensembles as well as learn about the historical development of the music.



Warren Wilson Old-Time String Band (Fall 2012)


Music Minor: Concentration in Traditional Music

The concentration in Traditional Music provides a strong foundation in the traditional vernacular music of North America, with a focus on the music and dance traditions of the southern Appalachian region.

Requirements: A minimum of 22 credits from the following passed with a grade of B- or better.
Prerequisite:     MUS 120   Beginning Music Theory (2 cr.) This course is required for students with limited background. It does not count as elective credit for the minor. Students with prior experience may elect to take a placement examination in place of MUS 120.

1.    Core (6):

MUS 232      Appalachian Music and Dance (4 cr.)
MUS 202    Applied Music Theory for Traditional Musicians (2 cr.)

2.    Applied Music (4): four semesters (1 credit per semester) in one area

MUS 122     Applied Bass   

MUS 240    Applied Traditional Music: Fiddle   

MUS 242    Applied Traditional Music: Mandolin   

MUS 261    Applied Traditional Music: Guitar   

MUS 264    Applied Traditional Music: Banjo

Prerequisite for Applied Traditional Music: group class in desired instrument or permission of the instructor. For the concentration in Traditional Music, students need permission of the faculty to fulfill the Applied Music requirement in more than one instrument/area. All Applied Music courses carry a small additional fee per credit hour.

3.    Ensembles (4): four semesters (1 credit per semester)   

MUS 157    Beginning String Band
MUS 257    Old-Time String Band
MUS 271    Bluegrass Band

4.    History & Literature (4): one 4-credit course

MUS 110     Music Appreciation

MUS 114    Music Cultures of Africa, the Mideast, and Latin America

MUS 115    Music Cultures of Asia

MUS 211    American Vernacular Music

MUS 286    Jazz Appreciation

5.    Electives (4): four credits selected from any MUS offering (1 credit unless otherwise noted)

MUS 113    Roots of American Folk Music

MUS 134    Beginning Voice (2 cr.)

MUS 140     Old-Time Fiddle I

MUS 141    Old-Time Fiddle II

MUS 142    Mandolin

MUS 155    Appal. Flatfooting and Clogging

MUS 156    Appalachian Square Dance

MUS 161    Beginning Folk Guitar

MUS 162    Flat & Finger-picking Guitar

MUS 164    Old-Time Banjo

MUS 165    Bluegrass Banjo

MUS 169     Old-Time Singing

MUS 180    Appalachian Ballads and Folksongs

MUS 209    Theory/Improvisation (4 cr.)

For more information email: Phil Jamison


Appalachian Music Resources

The college has a large collection of recordings of Appalachian music at the Martha Ellison Library and the Kittridge Music Resource Center. Students may also listen to field recordings and concert performances from years at the College Archives.


Appalachian Music & Dance Events


Monday Lunchtime Old-Time Jam Session

Students and faculty join together every Monday at lunchtime throughout the school year for an old-time music jam session.


Appalachian Music Concert Series at Sage Cafe

David Holt at Sage Cafe (2006)
The Appalachian Music Concert Series at Sage Cafe presents a monthly concert of Appalachian music from the region and beyond. These concerts are 7:30-8:30 PM, and they open to the public.

Fall 2013

September 11 The Stuart Brothers - old-Time Fiddel & Banjo from Cold Mountain
October 2 Si Kahn and the Looping Brothers - Bluegrass from Germany
November 6 Appalachian Music Faculty Concert
December 4 Warren Wilson Old-Time and Bluegrass Band Ensembles
December 11 Appalachian Music Student Concert

Fiddles and Folklife Festival

Each April, traditional musicians and crafters from the Appalachian region come to the Warren Wilson campus for the Fiddles and Folklife Festival. This event features an old-time music contest for fiddle, banjo, and stringband, as well as music jams, food and craft vendors, folklife demonstrators, and an old-time square dance and cakewalk.


The Old Farmer's Ball  


The Asheville dance community comes to Warren Wilson every Thursday for a weekly contra and square dance at Bryson Gym. This dance, founded in 1982, has helped make the Asheville area one of the most thriving contra dance scenes in the entire country. In addition to the numerous local musicians and callers from the Asheville region, it has become a popular stop for many nationally-known touring bands and dance callers.


The Swannanoa Gathering

Each summer since 1992, musicians and dancers from across the country and around the world have come to the campus of Warren Wilson College during the month of July for week-long sessions of traditional music and dance. The days are filled with classes taught by world-renowned instructors, and the evenings are filled with concerts, dances, and jam sessions that last long into the night. Programs include: Traditional Song Week, Celtic Week, Old-Time Music & Dance Week, Contemporary Folk Week, Guitar Week, Fiddle Week, and Banjo/Mandolin Week.