Rock & Roll | Blues | Jazz | Country and Western | Rockabilly | Folk | Alternative | Punk | Reggae | Heavy Metal | Hip Hop | Industrial
The History of : Blues | Country | Folk Music | Heavy Metal | Hip Hop | Jazz | Reggae | Rock n' Roll | Rockabilly
The contents on this page are a general description of the individual genres, sub-genres. For a more in depth history click on the History links above.
Rock and Roll evolved in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and quickly spread to the rest of the world.
The typical rock and roll band consisted of a rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass guitar, and a drummer, with the piano or saxophone as a fifth instrument or a replacement for the lead guitar. Rock and roll, due to its worldwide popularity had far reaching influences, affecting the lifestyle, fashion, attitudes, and language of generations from the late ‘40s to the present.
R & R started in the late ’40s and early ‘50s as a fusion of the music genre popular for the era; gospel, folk, blues, country & western, and jazz. The country & western influence lent itself more to the Rockabilly movement, while the blues and gospel influences were more prevalent in the Rhythm and Blues and Motown scenes.
The classic sound of early R&R Was heard as far back as the ‘20s and, 30s in the Country Western and blues genres respectively. It is of some interest to note that the African-American jazz and blues of that period had a large fan base in the white America audience, but only when being performed by white musicians. The original musical renditions, performed by black musicians, were rarely heard by the white audience, and was referred to as “race music” aired by a handful of radio stations outside the mainstream. It is also of interest to note that The Blues had a much greater influence on the R&R scene in Great Britain, and only gained popularity as a music style in America when it was re-imported as “White Boy” blues throughout the late ,50s and ,60s. The swing music of the ‘30s, Including the Texas region Western Swing was greatly influence by the blues and through the “musical melting pot” had an effect on the emerging rockabilly and R&R movement.
The expression Rock and Roll was most likely a derivative of “Rocking and Rolling” which was slang for dancing but with strong sexual overtones in the black community. However, it was Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey Alan Freed who was given credit for the first ”on air” use of the phrase Rock & Roll when he began playing R&B music on a more mainstream radio station, catering to the mixed racial audience.
(More History Here)
Blue notes are notes played at a lower pitch, (usually a semitone or less), than those of the major scale. It is from these blue notes that The Blues derives it name, and from the sound created by these “blue” notes which invoke a feeling of sadness or depression. The characteristics of The Blues is somewhat hard to define due to the fact that, as with all forms of music, the individual expression varies from performer to performer and from region to region, the common factor though, remains the use of the blue notes.
It began in African-American communities and gestated as a progressive fusion of spirituals, work songs, chants, and spoken ballads. The blues above all other forms of music had the greatest influence on all later genres of music from rhythm & blues, to jazz, to rock & roll, and on, and on, influencing nearly every form of musical expression being performed today.
Blues is in constant change as performers add their personal touch to the genre. This change can be easily seen when comparing the styles of Eddie "Son" House, Robert Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, etc to the modern day sounds of BB King, Eric Clapton, Tinsley Ellis, and of course the late, great, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others.
The earlier forms of blues were heard in slave field shouts and hollers, evolving into simple songs with emotional content. The blues can be roughly defined as a musical style based on both European harmonies and these African call and response field shouts, which evolved into a vocal and instrumental union.
Blues usually takes the musical form of a twelve, eight, or sixteen bar structure based on tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords with 12 bar being the most common and readily recognizable structure. Written and verbal history documents 12 bar blues as appearing very early in African American culture throughout Mississippi, Tennessee, and New Orleans.
Early blues was frequently a loosely formulated narrative of personal loss, hard times, oppression, love gone wrong, basically the harsh end of the reality spectrum. The sound was a gritty essay on the reality of early African American life at a time in history when slavery was still practiced, though occasional trips into the human comedy of life did appear. The subject of the songs, being primarily about the side of life no one talked about, (sex, drugs, hard luck and hard times), coupled with the venue, (juke joints), in which they were played, gave blues the unsavory reputation that was frequently canon fodder for many a preacher of the time.
(More History Here)
Jazz is an American music style which originated around the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the south from a mix of African and European music traditions. The word jazz began as a West Coast slang term of uncertain derivation and was first used to refer to music in Chicago in about 1915. The word may have originally been spelled “jass, or jast”, and it has been speculated that it was originally slang for sex, while some think it may have been a term for marijuana. In reality no one knows for sure.
Jazz has branched out into a variety of styles, from Dixieland from the early 1910s, big band swing in the ‘30s and ‘40s, be-bop in the mid ‘40s, a variety of Latin jazz fusions such as Afro- Cuban and Brazilian jazz from the ‘50s and ‘60s, jazz-rock fusion from the ‘70s and later developments such as acid jazz, and it continues, (like all forms of music), to be in a constant state of evolution; New Orleans Dixieland, Swing, European jazz, Ragtime, Bebop, Cool jazz, Latin jazz, Free jazz, Fusion jazz, Soul jazz, Progressive jazz, etc…
The brass and reed instruments used in marching bands and dance bands became the basic instruments of jazz. Small bands of self taught musicians played a major role in the development and spread of the early jazz movement, traveling throughout the south and, eventually, (through the venue of vaudeville), to western and northern states.
Through the prohibition years jazz moved to the underground clubs, and the speakeasies became a major venue for the music. Perhaps due to its popularity in these clubs jazz got the reputation of being immoral and of course, as with all new forms of music, the preceding generation perceived it as a threat to its old values and saw it as promoting the decadence of the Roaring 20s.
The 1930s saw the advent of the predominantly white Big Swing Bands, and jazz moved out of the closet into the limelight, becoming extremely popular during the war years, (that’s WW1). Swing was also dance music and it was broadcast on the airwaves across America for many years. As the racial segregation began to relax, more black performers joined the big bands, and added another influence to the sound, creating a jump blues sound heavily influenced by The Blues.
Free or progressive jazz, rooted in bebop, uses less compositional material and allow performers more freedom to improvise in a sort of loose harmony and tempo. Bebop itself brought much change to the jazz style with its use of chromatic scales and complex musical structures, becoming more of a “musician’s music”, rather than a form of dance music.
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s a hybrid form of jazz-rock-fusion was born. Even though the “purists” protested this mix of jazz and rock, some significant figures of the jazz scene crossed over from the contemporary hard bebop scene into fusion. Jazz fusion often uses odd mixed meters, time signatures, syncopation, complex chords and harmonies, basically an “anything goes” form of jazz, that takes expression and experimentation to new levels.
(More History Here)
Country and Western is an American music style that originated in the Southeast as country, and the Southwest and West as western. The styles merged in the ‘20s when recording studios began to proliferate, and they solidified the union during the war years, (that’s WW2) when proponents of each style mingled during this period, either through military service or travel. The primary difference is that country music is simpler and relies on fewer instruments, guitar; fiddle, banjo, and harmonica, while the western style leans toward steel guitars and a big band sound bordering on swing.. Bluegrass, a more distinctive sound, is country and western music with more emphasis on the banjo, mandolin, and fiddle.
Country and western music is, lyrically speaking, similar in content to blues as it tends to cover hardship, lost love, poverty, etc. The music is heavily influenced by a melting pot of nationalities due to the heavy immigration of the time. Throughout the period, immigrants arrived from Europe, Ireland, The United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and Italy and, mixing with the Spanish, Mexican, Native American influenced the genre.
When the Great Depression hit the recording industry declined, for obvious reasons, and radio became the most popular form of media. Country and western music proliferated in this venue, as radio shows featuring the music spread to the northern states and out to the west coast greatly increasing the C&W fan base. Movies, (and later TV), featuring the “Singing Cowboys” further increased this popularity.
Country musicians began fusing their sound with elements of the Blues, Bluegrass, Jazz, and the new kid on the block, Rock and Roll, creating Western Swing, Country Blues, Rockabilly, and the more “raw” stripped down basic sound of Honky Tonk. Yodeling also reared its ugly head, (personal opinion), and would make an appearance from time to time, probably due to the European immigrant influence, or an attempt to experiment with a newer sound.
The Nashville era, with its own unique sound, ushered country music into a multimillion dollar business, and brought country music to a much more diverse audience. Nashville remains today as the major center of the C&W scene as country continues its evolution with the current Country Rock/Blues sound.
( More History Here )
Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, and emerged in the early 1950s drawing it's influence from both the C&W and R&B roots of music. Rockabilly pretty much shares the same history of C&W but turned more sharply to the rock and roll side of the country sound, and carved its own niche with many of the top performers in the genre crossing over into the early rock scene. Rockabilly gave us Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, and some phenomenal yet virtually unheralded musicians such as my personal “Guitar Hero”: Danny Gatton.
The term rockabilly is a hybrid of rock (from rock 'n' roll) and hillbilly, the latter a reference to the country music (often called hillbilly music in the 1940s and 1950s) that contributed strongly to the style's development. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, blues music, boogie woogie, and jump blues. Although there are notable exceptions, its origins lie primarily in the southern United States.The influence and popularity of the style waned in the 1960s, but during the late 1970s and early 1980s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival of popularity that has endured to the present, often within a rockabilly subculture.
(More History Here)
Folk music really has no discernable origin, being around pretty much as long as people, it probably started as a means of “oral” history keeping. Folk songs are a means of story telling, lesson giving, and of course a means of voicing protests, that make it more a matter of tradition than entertainment. Folk is the music of the working class, and has seldom enjoyed much commercial success. Folk Music is definitely not a means to wealth and glory in the music business, yet one would be hard pressed to find a city anywhere in America that does not have a local venue for the folk artist to perform, be it beginner or seasoned veteran.
From the start of American history, folk music has risen in popularity during hard times and fallen in popularity during the good times. From before the days of slavery, through the depression, to the present, Folk Music has risen, and fallen with the public morale, and indeed, is a pretty good barometer of current social conditions. Civil Rights issues, Wars, Environmental Issues, Corporate Greed, injustice in general have fed the Folk movement with a constant supply of material for inspiration, and if current social trends are any indication, the American coffee house will be around for many, many years to come.
Folk music, like all forms of music, draws influence from the other genres and is in constant evolution, and while folk musicians will rarely sell gold albums, the music they create is not only an American traditional, but also a “Social Necessity” that reaches out to the social conscience of everyone.
(More History Here)
Alternative music, a somewhat broadly encompassing term, was born in the ‘80s as an answer/solution to a somewhat stagnating rock scene, forcing a new, rough and ragged sound into the movement. Alternative, like all musical forms, has many sub-genres containing Grunge, Progressive Rock, Gothic Rock, Heavy Metal, Punk, New Wave, Techno, etc. They all have a common thread that most likely began with the British Punk movement, and spread throughout the country after being “tweaked” a little to reflect that uniquely American psyche.
In this instance it was the smaller college, and independent radio stations, catering to a limited audience, that brought Alternative to the American mainstream. Alternative radio stations, and record labels sprang up, seemingly overnight, to spread this new sound to the public. Alternative as with Folk, and Blues, is a somewhat purer, working class, music genre, in that it most closely reflects the social views of the generation. The music has a more down to earth, guttural nature, and a unique sound which brought a refreshing boost to the music industry. As long as the Alternative music remains true to itself it should enjoy the same longevity that folk, blues have.
The term "Punk Rock" was coined to give a name to the unpolished and sometimes unskilled garage bands of the ‘60s, as they burst onto the scene with attitude ablaze.
The strong social commentary and thinly veiled anger of the early lyrical content was as much a social commentary as it was a rebellion against the seemingly stagnant rut that Rock and Roll appeared to be suffering from at the time. The musical content, whether illusory or not, screamed that there was too much to be said to waste time on musical theory. This coarse musical exterior soon gave rise to a more polished structure as the genre matured.
Punk was as much an expression of a rebellious nature as a “don’t give a damn, it’s all crap anyway”, mood. Having its birth in Great Britain during the “Thatcher Years”, the punks managed to squeeze as much teenage angst into the music as the laws of physics would allow, with attitudes that were as much stage presence as off stage aggressiveness.
All things considered the punk movement with its attitude of rebelliousness still drew heavily on the Rockabilly, Reggae, and traditional Rock & Roll for its influences.
(More History Here)
Reggae had its birth in Jamaica in the ‘60s and is a mix of Caribbean style with strong African overtones and influenced by early Rhythm and Blues. The word Reggae may have come from “streggae”, a term roughly meaning loose or trashy appearance.
It is a progression from the earlier Ska and Rocksteady sound but done at a somewhat slower tempo. Bob Marley, who brought Reggae into the mainstream is probably the most known of all the Reggae artists. The music style is similar to Folk, Blues and Country only in that it deals with the same issues of poverty, politics, love, and the shortfalls of society in general. The songs are a rallying cry for the poor who grew up in the shanty towns and are struggling for survival. The Rastafarian religious beliefs are also a frequent topic in the songs, and because the use of marijuana is encouraged by these beliefs, the songs stirred some controversy.
This unique sound is readily identifiable by its slight accent on the off-beat, or skank, as it is referred to, and a heavier more noticeable accent on the 3rd beat in each bar. The simple musical structure, and sincerity of the lyrics has helped increase the popularity of Reggae, and its worldwide spread is evidence of that, despite a humble beginning on a small island with limited resources. Reggae is played in 4/4 time and because of this rigid symmetrical rhythm pattern does not translate well into other time signatures. This tempo combined with the simple structure and chord patterns give the music a mesmerizing effect that is of undeniable appeal worldwide.
(More History Here)
Heavy Metal is rock on steroids, having aggressive, driving rhythms, highly amplified guitars using distortion and overdrive, and frequently having a dark theme.
It evolved from traditional R&R, and blues, with a twinge of classical in the mix, and while this classical influence was hard to pinpoint in the earlier years, it is more noticeable today as the genre has gained credibility. Anyone doubting this influence need only listen to groups like Opeth, or Megadeth. Starting in the late’60s early ‘70s it became a powerful driving force in the music scene. The advent of more complex electronic effects was well put to use by the Heavy Metal musicians. The forerunner of Heavy Metal was the heavily amplified blues being introduced by power trios such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and of course Roy Buchanan. This heavy approach to the traditional blues sound gave rise to much experimentation into the limits to which an instrument could be pushed before bursting into flames.
This powerful approach to blues received much attention by the music community which was more than ready to exploit the opportunities of the amplified guitar to produce a louder, more discordant sound.
The guitar Hero/Virtuoso moved to the forefront of the music genre as technique and skill levels increase dramatically, moving from the occasional riff used to bridge composition segments, to solos that were bordering on otherworldly with unique sounds and complex structures. The Guitar is probably the most important instrument in Heavy Metal, not only driving the music along, but at times becoming the focal point around which all else is focused. The intricacy of the solos and riffs are a big part of heavy metal music relying on unique picking and tapping techniques to obtain amazing speed and accuracy.
The style of drumming began to change dramatically to produce a heavier, more aggressive sound that was needed to keep up with the highly charged music, and of course to be heard above the amplified guitars.
There is also a wide variety in the vocal techniques used by Heavy Metal singers ranging from clean vocals to distorted and guttural vocals that make the lyrics difficult to comprehend. Sometimes the lyrics may be too crude to be spoken out clearly, but in many songs some excellent lyrics are obscured by this vocal. The lyrical content is consistent with tradition blues, and early punk, in that it tends to lean to issues of despair and rebellion, while Thrash and Death Metal stretch o the farthest end of the spectrum from the fairy tale ending Pop Music to a more brooding state
In reality, though, all forms of music influence each other in a constant flux of blending the good, the new, and the traditional, to form an ever changing sound that reflects the ever changing society we reside in.
(More History Here)
Hip Hop began as a cultural movement which developed in New York City in the 1970s primarily among African Americans and Latino Americans. Hip Hop's four main elements are Mc'ing (often called rapping), DJing, graffiti writing, and breakdancing. Other elements include beatboxing, hip hop fashion, and slang. Since first emerging in the Bronx, the lifestyle of hip hop culture has spread around the world. When hip hop music began to emerge, it was based around DJs who created rhythmic beats by looping breaks (smalls portions of songs emphasizing a percussive pattern) on two turntables. This was later accompanied by "rapping" (a rhythmic style of chanting). An original form of dancing, and particular styles of dress, arose among followers of this new music. These elements experienced considerable refinement and development over the course of the history of the culture.
The relationship between graffiti and hip hop culture arises from the appearance of new and increasingly elaborate and pervasive forms of the practice in areas where other elements of hip hop were evolving as art forms, with a heavy overlap between those who wrote and those who practiced other elements of the culture. Beatboxing is a mainly percussive vocal form in which various technical effects of hip hop DJs are imitated.
The word "hip" was used as African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as early as 1904. The colloquial language meant "informed" or "current," and was likely derived from the earlier form hep.The term "hip hop" had also been used as early as 1931 in Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy's novel The Emigres (1931), referring to a musical group by the name Hips Hops, performing in Stokholm (Sweden), though it is unclear whether the name referred to an actual or fictional group.
Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five has been credited with the coining of the term hip hop in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just joined the US Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers. Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his stage performance.
(More History Here)
Industrial Music is a difficult genre to define, you have many hardcore critics who become very outspoken concerning their opinions of the genre , many believe that if a band isn't compromised of 100% electronic components , that is 100% sythesized, and makes use of real musical instruments it isn't true industrial and is industrial metal fusion. In the beginning industrial music was mainly composed of highly distorted music and keyboards as well as very controversial lyrics and remained mainly underground, consisting of bands like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, bands of the like are considered to be of the “first wave” of industrial music between the 70’s to 80’s. The “Second Wave” is when Industrial Music started to come into it’s own and became more well known, this mainly happened during the 80’s and 90’s, this is also where industrial becomes hard to pin down because people started to break it off into many different sub genre’s which I will list later on. During the second wave there was a flood of great bands that are still around today and some that have unfortunately fallen to the wayside, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, Front 242, Leather Strip, (now widely considered Dark wave), and many others. Then you move into the “Third Wave” where the bands become really mainstream and image became as important as the music, here you have some of my favorite bands such as Apoptygma Berzerk (widely considered Electro-Pop/Synth-Pop), VNV Nation (again, considered by many Electro-Pop/Synth-Pop), Velvet Acid Christ (considered Dark Wave), Today is the Day (considered Noise), KMFDM, and the short lived MDFMK. As it stands now there are too many “Industrial” bands to list but what sets them apart from the musical norm is that they still consist mainly of electronic components, such as drum loops, electronic noises, distortions, samples, keyboards, and in many cases simple or controversial lyrics.
Industrial Sub Genres:-
Ambient Industrial -
Dark Ambient -
Dark Electro -
Dark Wave -
Death Industrial -
Electronic Body Music
Electro-Industrial - Electro-Pop - Futurepop - Industrial DnB - Industrial Metal - Industrial Rock - Industrial Techno - Japanoise - Martial Industrial
Neofolk - Noise - Power Noise - Synth-Pop, and others.
Rock & Roll | Blues | Jazz | Country and Western | Rockabilly | Folk | Alternative | Punk | Reggae | Heavy Metal
The History of : Blues | Country | Folk Music | Heavy Metal | Hip Hop | Jazz | Punk | Reggae | Rock n' Roll | Rockabilly
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