Country (/), or country and western, is a musical genre that originated in the
southern United States in the early 1920s.
 It takes its roots from genres such as
folk music (especially
Appalachian folk music) and
Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms, folk lyric and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as
banjos, electric and
steel guitars (such as
pedal steels and
fiddles as well as
Blues modes have been used extensively throughout its
According to Lindsey Starnes, the term country music gained popularity in the 1940s in preference to the earlier term
hillbilly music; it came to encompass
Western music, which evolved parallel to hillbilly music from similar roots, in the mid-20th century. In 2009, in the United States country music was the most listened to rush hour radio genre during the evening commute, and second most popular in the morning commute.
The term country music is used today to describe many
styles and subgenres. The origins of country music are the folk music of
working class Americans, who blended popular songs, Irish and Celtic fiddle tunes, traditional English ballads, and cowboy songs, and various musical traditions from European immigrant communities.