Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and is a folk music genre independent of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland (particularly the Scotch-Irish immigrants in Appalachia) , and was influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of elements of jazz.
In bluegrass, as in some forms of jazz, one or more instruments each takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment; this is especially typified in tunes called breakdowns. This is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment. Breakdowns are often characterized by rapid tempos, and unusual instrumental dexterity and sometimes complex chord changes.Bluegrass music has attracted a diverse and loyal following worldwide. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."