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Earl Spielman

December 13, 1993 OHC279 106 min.


Music Scholar. Born July 29, 1942. Studied music at Oberlin College, received Ph. D. in musicology from the University of Wisconsin. During the mid-1970s worked in Nashville as a session fiddler, arranger, and producer. Recognized nationally for his musical analysis work in copyright disputes.

Interview Summary

1993 December 13
(1 hour, 46 minutes)
Music scholar Earl Spielman talks about bluegrass music and the legacy of Bill Monroe in an interview given as part of the research conducted by the Country Music Foundation for their production of The Music of Bill Monroe from 1936-1994 (MCA, 1994). Discussion includes his childhood and early musical education; his introduction to bluegrass; his experiences as a bluegrass vs. classical musician; joining the Plum Creek Boys; comments on the different fiddle players from Bill Monroe’s band and what they brought to the group, including Vassar Clements, Chubby Wise, Benny Martin, Bobby Hicks, and Kenny Baker; the importance of the banjo to bluegrass; comments on the personnel changes in Monroe’s band and its impact on Monroe’s performance style; Monroe’s mandolin technique; Monroe as the Father of Bluegrass; memories of Monroe’s concert performances; Monroe’s recording selections; the role of Ralph Rinzler; and comments on the enduring influence of Monroe’s style.

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