Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It originally started in the 1940s and 1950s with the start of rock and roll. Rock and roll grew out of blues, rhythm and blues and country music. Rock music is related to, and drew strongly on, a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk. It also has influences from jazz, classical and other music genres.
Musically, rock mostly uses the electric guitar as part of a rock group with bass guitar and drums. Rock music is song-based. It has a 4/4 beat and it has verse-chorus form. However, rock has become very different and it is hard to say what its common musical instruments are. Like popular music, rock music lyrics are mostly about "romantic love". They can also have social or have political themes, however. Rock focuses on musical skill, live performance, and it tries to be more real than pop music.
By the late 1960s, a number of different rock music below-genres had come out. These included hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, and jazz-rock fusion. From these forms, the counterculture developed psychedelic rock. New genres that came from this scene included progressive rock, glam rock and heavy metal. Progressive rock made the music more artistic. Glam rock focused on showmanship and what you can see. Heavy metal which focused on loudness, power and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock both intensified and reacted against some of these trends to produce a raw, energetic form of music characterized by overt political and social critiques. Punk caused other below-genres to come about into the 1980s, including New Wave, post-punk and eventually the alternative rock movement. From the 1990s, alternative rock began to be the most popular type of rock music. It broke through into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. More merging of below-genres have since emerged. These include pop punk, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock's history, including the garage rock/post-punk and synthpop revivals at the beginning of the new millennium.
Rock music has also helped cultural and social movements. This led to large sub-cultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the "hippie" culture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture made the goth and emo subcultures. Rock music has the same folk tradition as the protest song. Rock music has been involved with political activism. It has also made changes to social attitudes towards race, sex and drug use. It is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.
Characteristics[change | change source]
The sound of rock is traditionally centered on the electric guitar, which emerged in its modern form in the 1950s with the popularization of rock and roll, and was influenced by the sounds of electric blues guitarists. The basic rock instrumentation was adapted from the basic blues band instrumentation (prominent lead guitar, second chord instrument, bass, and drums).
History[change | change source]
Rock and roll[change | change source]
The era saw the growth in popularity of the electric guitar, and the development of a specifically rock and roll style of playing, through such exponents as Chuck Berry, Link Wray, and Scotty Moore. In the mid-1950s, Chuck Berry popularized the use of distortion in rock and roll. Inspired by electric blues, Chuck Berry introduced an aggressive guitar sound to rock and roll, and established the electric guitar as the centrepiece of rock music, adapting his rock band instrumentation from the basic basic blues band instrumentation. The power chord, which originated from electric blues in the early 1950s, was popularized in rock and roll by Link Wray in the late 1950s.
Electric blues[change | change source]
Electric blues had a strong influence on rock music, which adopted its dense texture, electric guitar techniques (such as amplification, distortion and power chords) and basic blues band instrumentation (prominent lead guitar, second chord instrument, bass, and drums) from electric blues. It laid the foundations for characteristics that later became common in rock music, particularly hard rock and heavy metal, such as a rough declamatory vocal style, heavy guitar riffs, string-bending blues-scale guitar solos, strong beat, thick riff-laden texture, and posturing performances. The use of distortion was pioneered by electric blues guitarists such as Joe Hill Louis, Guitar Slim, Willie Johnson and Pat Hare in the early 1950s. The use of power chords was also pioneered by Willie Johnson and Pat Hare in the early 1950s. Early forms of hard rock can be heard in the work of Chicago blues musicians Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf. Elmore James' hard driving blues guitar work, the "thunderous blast" of his guitar sound, and his slashing and bottleneck guitar techniques, had a strong influence on the development of modern rock music, particularly blues rock, heavy metal and hard rock. Electric blues influenced 1950s rock and roll, particularly through Chuck Berry's adaptation of the basic blues band instrumentation, and especially 1960s rock, through acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
British Invasion[change | change source]
The British Invasion acts drew on a wide range of American influences including soul, rhythm and blues, surf music, and electric blues. British Invasion acts such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones played a major role in the popularization and evolution of rock music.
Blues rock[change | change source]
The roots of blues rock can be traced back to the Chicago electric blues musicians Elmore James, Albert King and Freddie King. Elmore James used electric guitar techniques such as distortion, power chords and slides to create an "explosive sound" that was "screaming with sustained tones" and was distorted and densely textured, developing blues rock by "energizing primal riffs with a raw, driving intensity." In the early 1960s, Freddie King had developed an early form of blues rock music, influencing its development among British musicians several years later.
Blues rock later became a distinct movement during the mid-to-late 1960s, among British acts such as The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton and American musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, laying the foundations for hard rock and heavy metal music.
Sources[change | change source]
- W. E. Studwell and D. F. Lonergan, The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from its Beginnings to the mid-1970s (Abingdon: Routledge, 1999), ISBN 0-7890-0151-9
- Pop/Rock at Allmusic
- Gilliland 1969, show 55.
- Gilliland 1969, show 33.
- Gilliland 1969, show 41.
- Gilliland 1969, show 42.
- J. M. Curtis, Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, 1954–1984 (Madison, WI: Popular Press, 1987), ISBN 0-87972-369-6, pp. 68–73.
- Michael Campbell & James Brody, Rock and Roll: An Introduction, pages 80-81
- J. M. Curtis, Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, 1954–1984 (Madison, WI: Popular Press, 1987), ISBN 0-87972-369-6, p. 73.
- Collis, John (2002). Chuck Berry: The Biography. Aurum. p. 38. http://books.google.com/books?id=0AgUAQAAIAAJ.
- Michael Campbell & James Brody, Rock and Roll: An Introduction, pages 110-111
- Robert Palmer, "Church of the Sonic Guitar", pp. 13–38 in Anthony DeCurtis, Present Tense, Duke University Press, 1992, pp. 24–27. ISBN 0-8223-1265-4.
- Hicks, Michael (2000). Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions. University of Illinois Press. p. 17. . http://books.google.com/books?id=JviHtOrIlkkC&pg=PA17&dq=link+wray+pencil+rumble&hl=en&ei=853FTdGqBIGasAO555C_AQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=link%20wray%20pencil%20rumble&f=false.
- Michael Campbell & James Brody (2007), Rock and Roll: An Introduction, page 201
- DeCurtis, Anthony (1992). Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture (4. print. ed.). Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. . http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=bsT3RQ9e58kC. "His first venture, the Phillips label, issued only one known release, and it was one of the loudest, most overdriven, and distorted guitar stomps ever recorded, "Boogie in the Park" by Memphis one-man-band Joe Hill Louis, who cranked his guitar while sitting and banging at a rudimentary drum kit."
- Aswell, Tom (2010). Louisiana Rocks! The True Genesis of Rock & Roll. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company. pp. 61–5. . http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=BSHTGsnI8skC&pg=PA61#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Jane Beethoven, Carman Moore, Rock-It, page 37, Alfred Music
- Dicaire, David (1999). Blues Singers: Elmore James entry. McFarland. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1Mdf4BOnI9IC&pg=PA102. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- R. Stakes, "Those boys: the rise of Mersey beat", in S. Wade, ed., Gladsongs and Gatherings: Poetry and its Social Context in Liverpool Since the 1960s (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2001), ISBN 0-85323-727-1, pp. 157–66.
- Michael Campbell & James Brody (2007), Rock and Roll: An Introduction, page 201
- John Morthland (2013), How Elmore James Invented Metal, Wondering Sound, eMusic
- Elmore James Biography, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Robert Santelli (1997), The Best of the Blues: The 101 Essential Albums, page 377-378, Penguin Books