Up until the 1950’s, popular music had always seemed constricted by certain aesthetic standards like: a beautiful melody, steady rhythm, good lyrics, and a smooth voice. But that soon would change...
The OriginsOne group of people that did not conform to these principals for “good music” were the African-Americans. For years, dating back even to their time as slaves, they had a unique style of music. The original type, we might refer to now as gospel style, morphed over time into “Rhythm and Blues”or “Jazz”. This music was not generally looked upon as high quality. The instruments and tune often had a clashing sound, and the beat was faster paced.The singer did not have to have a magnificent voice. It was all about the feeling of the music.
The Explosion of Rock Culture
Emergence However, along with many other progressive and rebellious movements sweeping across the United States, a new age of music was quickly approaching. Although America refused to accept this new style of music from the still highly discriminated blacks, they were more willing for a change coming from whites. The first and most famous of these, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, adopted much of their style of music from the blacks. They morphed it with their own individual styles and a new age of music known as “Rock and Roll” began to emerge.
Taking It to The Stage...
Although not initially accepted or popular, the music quickly caught on with the teenagers of the 1950’s due to its radical and vivacious nature. Anyone could dance or sing to it. More and more artists began to create music in this style, but there was still much opposition. Parents, clergy, teachers, and others still clung to their traditional music and were horrified by the loud style and sometimes unsavory lyrics that their children or students were listening to.
Going into the 60’s, many of the original artists either grew out of popularity or moved on into other places in life. However, their places were not left empty for long. A newer and even more upbeat era of rock music began with The Beatles; The Beach Boys; The Rolling Stones; Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Bob Dylan and many other famous bands or singers taking the stage. Each artist had a unique sound. Rock was becoming a huge part of culture. A notable sign of this was a large music festival commonly known as Woodstock that was attended by around 400,000.
The genre of rock could now be divided into types. Some preferred a more toned down folk rock, others enjoyed the heavier rock. There was some type for everyone. The lyrics to their music centered around current events, personal struggles, and well…yes…sometimes drugs, alcohol and other immoral behaviors. The fan base was beginning to grow past just teens. Although it still faced opposition, rock was being accepted into daily life and was taking over the radios that had usually played the traditional music of the 30’s and 40’s.
Today we can look back and see the massive craze of rock music that grew even larger into the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. For some, Rock and Roll was not just music; it was a lifestyle, and a feeling. It served its original purpose well. Any and all people could sing, dance or enjoy it however they liked. It wasn’t about the talent of the musicians, but rather the feeling and freedom it gave to its listeners. Rock and Roll is and was one of the most notable factors of the progressive and revolutionary movement of the 20th century.