Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rock Music History

Rock music emerged during the mid 1950s to become the major popular musical form of young audiences in the United States and Western Europe. It stylistic scope is too broad to be encompassed by any single definition; the only feature common to all rock music is a heavy on the beat.

Rock 'n Roll 1950-62

The primary source of rock 'n roll was Rhythm and Blues, an idiom popular among black audiences that combined elements of urban Blues (in the structure, vocal style, and use of simplified guitar), gospel music (in the piano accompaniments and vocal harmonizing), and Jazz (in saxophone solos), Rhythm and blues began to gain a wider audience during the late 1940s, and in 1951 the disc jockey who played an important role in attracting white teenagers to the music, substituted the term "rock 'n roll," previously use a sexual reference in lyrics. Bill Halley's Rock Around the Clock" (1955) was the first important break through the white rock 'n roll. What appealed to the postwar white audience was rock 'n roll's driving dance rhythms. Its direct, adolescent-level message, and its suggestion of youthful rebellion.

Rock 'n roll's first superstar was Elvis Presley. With his country and western background, Presley led the way for other "rockabilly" (rock plus hillbilly) artists; with his spasmodic hip gyrations, he introduced a sexual suggestiveness that outraged conservative adults; with this legion of teenage fans, he became the archetype of the rock star as culture hero.

Other popular figures also made significant contributions to the style; Chuck Berry nourished the music's roots, Jerry Lee Lewis expanded its country branch, and Little Richard provided frantic showmanship. By the late 1950s, however, a malaise had set in; the music had become formula-ridden, sentimental, and often as in love-death ballads like "Teen Angel" distinctly maudlin.

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