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Rock and roll

Music Sound

Rock and roll

Origins of rock and roll

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Stylistic origins: Rock and roll, ultimately blues (mostly jump blues and Chicago blues), country music and R&B
Cultural origins: Late 1940s United States
Typical instruments: Guitar - Bass - Drums-
occasionally Keyboards
Mainstream popularity: Much, constant and worldwide since the 1950s
Derivative forms: Alternative rock - Heavy metal - Punk rock
Art rock - British rock - Christian rock - Desert rock - Detroit rock - Experimental rock - Garage rock - Girl group - Glam rock - Glitter rock - Group Sounds - Hard rock - Heartland rock - Instrumental rock - Jam band - Jangle pop - Krautrock - Post-rock - Power pop - Protopunk - Psychedelia - Pub rock (Aussie) - Pub rock (UK) - Rock en espanol - Soft rock - Southern rock - Surf
Fusion genres
Aboriginal rock - Afro-rock - Anatolian rock - Blues-rock - Boogaloo - Country rock - Cumbia rock - Flamenco-rock - Folk-rock - Indo-rock - Jazz rock - Madchester - Merseybeat - Progressive rock - Punta rock - Raga rock - Raď rock - Rockabilly - Rockoson - Samba-rock - Tango-rockéro
Other topics
Rock band

Rock and roll (also spelled rock 'n' roll, especially in its first decade), is a genre of music that emerged as a defined musical style in the Southern United States in the 1950s, and quickly spread to the rest of the country, and the world (rhythm sample). It later evolved into the various sub-genres of what is now called simply 'rock'. As a result, "rock and roll" now has two distinct meanings: either traditional rock and roll in the 1950s style, or later rock and even pop music which may be very far from traditional rock and roll (rhythm sample). From the late 1950s to the mid 1990s rock was perhaps the most popular form of music in the western world. Rock 'n' roll is played with an electric guitar, a bass guitar, with a drum set, and often a piano (or keyboard). In the early style of rock and roll, early 1950's, saxophone was the lead instrument, replaced by guitar in the late 50's.


Precursors and origins

Main article: Origins of rock and roll

Rock and roll emerged as a defined musical style in America in the 1950s, though elements of rock and roll can be heard in rhythm and blues records as far back as the 1920s. Early rock and roll combined elements of blues, boogie woogie, jazz, rhythm and blues, and is also influenced by traditional Appalachian folk music, gospel, as well as country and western. Going back even further, rock and roll can trace a foundational lineage to the old Five Points district of mid-19th century New York City, the scene of the first fusion of heavily rhythmic African shuffles and sand dances with melody driven European genres, particularly the Irish jig. Rocking was a term first used by black gospel singers in the American South to mean something akin to spiritual rapture. By the 1940s, however, the term was used as a double entendre, ostensibly referring to dancing, but with the hidden subtextual meaning of sex; an example of this is Roy Brown's "Good Rocking Tonight". This type of song was usually relegated to "race music" (the music industry code name for rhythm and blues) outlets and was rarely heard by mainstream white audiences. In 1951, Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey Alan Freed began playing this type of music for his white audience, and it is Freed who is credited with coining the phrase "rock and roll" to describe the rollicking R&B music that he brought to the airwaves. Rock "n" Roll Also was known as music that was created with R&B and Boogy Woogie mixed it was originally black music until white musicians liked it and made it popular with white teens

There is much debate as to what should be considered the first rock and roll record. Candidates include the 1951 "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, or later and more widely-known hits like Chuck Berry's "Maybelline" or "Johnny B. Goode" or Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley" or Bill Haley & His Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" or, as Rolling Stone magazine pointed out, to some controversy, in 2005, "That's all right", Elvis Presley's first single for SUN records, in Memphis. Some historians go further back, pointing to musicians like Fats Domino, who were recording in the 40s in styles largely indistinguishable from rock and roll; these include Louis Jordan's "Caldonia" (1945), Jack Guthrie's "The Oakie Bookie" (1947) and Benny Carter and Paul Vandervoort II's "Rock Me to Sleep" (1950). Even Benny Goodman made recordings in the early 1940s with the pioneering electric guitarist Charlie Christian which use many techniques later utilized by rock and rollers. If we agree with Huey Lewis that "The heart of rock and roll is the beat," and we examine the beat and set out to define it, we immediately find that the rock and roll beat is almost the same as the boogie woogie beat. Both are 8 to the bar, 12 bar blues, and the essential difference is that rock and roll has a greater emphasis on the back beat than boogie woogie...if you take any boogie woogie record of the 30's or 40's, and sit a drummer down to play snare on the backbeat, then you have turned it into rock and roll.

Main artists starting to score in the main hit charts from 1955 onward included the influential and pioneering: Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly.

Early North American rock and roll (1953-1963)

Whatever the beginning, it is clear that rock appeared at a time when racial tensions in the United States were coming to the surface. African Americans were protesting segregation of schools and public facilities. The "separate but equal" doctrine was nominally overturned by the Supreme Court in 1954. It can hardly be a coincidence, then, that a musical form combining elements of white and black music should arise, and that this music should provoke strong reactions, of all types, in all Americans.

The phrase was heard on Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five's version of Tamburitza Boogie recorded on August 18, 1950, in New York City. However, there are earlier usages of the term, such as the 1949 record, "Rock And Roll Blues," by Erline Harris, and the 1948 record by Wild Bill Moore, "Rock And Roll," as well as a record by Paul Bascomb with the same title, though a completely different song, in 1947. Even as early as 1922, Trixie Smith had a song titled "My Man Rocks Me with One Steady Roll," but the phrase was first recorded in 1916, on the Little Wonder record label, in a song called The Camp Meeting Jubilee, where the singers say "We've been rocking and rolling in your arms, in the arms of Moses."

On March 21, 1952 in Cleveland, Alan Freed (also known as Moondog) organized the first rock and roll concert, titled "The Moondog Coronation Ball" The audience and the performers were mixed in race and the evening ended after one song in a near-riot as thousands of fans tried to get into the sold-out venue.

The culture industry soon understood that there was a white market for black music that was beyond the stylistic boundaries of rhythm and blues and so social prejudice and racial barriers could do nothing against market forces. Rock and roll was an overnight success in the U.S. making ripples across the Atlantic, culminating in 1964 with the British Invasion. By the end of the decade, rock had spread throughout the world. In Australia, for example, Johnny O'Keefe became perhaps the first modern rock star of that country, and beginning a long history of Australian rock.


Main article: Rockabilly

In 1954, Elvis Presley recorded at Sam Phillips' Sun studios in Memphis, the regional hit "That's All Right, Mama." Elvis played a rock and country & western fusion called rockabilly, which was characterized by hiccupping vocals, slapping bass and a spastic guitar style. He became the first superstar rock musician.

It was the following year's "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & The Comets that really set the rock boom in motion, though. The song was one of the biggest hits in history, and frenzied teens flocked to see Haley and the Comets perform it, even causing riots in some places; "Rock Around the Clock" was a breakthrough for both the group and for all of rock and roll music. If everything that came before laid the groundwork, "Clock" certainly set the mold for everything else that came after. With its combined rockabilly and R & B influences, "Clock" topped the U.S. charts for several weeks, and became wildly popular in places like Australia and Germany. The single, released by independent label Festival Records in Australia, was the biggest-selling recording in the country at the time. In 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly became the first rock musicians to tour Australia, marking the expansion of the genre into a worldwide phenomenon. That same year, Bill Haley & The Comets toured Europe bringing rock 'n' roll to that continent for the first time. His Rock Around the Clock was recorded in 1954 with limited sales, but sales of the record exploded in 1955 after the release of the Movie "Blackboard Jungle," which used it in the opening sequence.


Main article: Cover version

Through the late 1940s and early 1950s, R&B music had been gaining a stronger beat and a wilder style, with artists such as Fats Domino and Johnny Otis speeding up the tempos and increasing the backbeat to great popularity on the juke joint circuit. Before the efforts of Freed and others, black music was taboo on many white-owned radio outlets. However, savvy artists and producers quickly recognized the potential of rock, and raced to cash in with white versions of this black music. White musicians also fell in love with the music and played it everywhere they could.

Covering was customary in the music industry at the time. One of the first successful rock and roll covers was Wynonie Harris's transformation of Roy Brown's "Good Rocking Tonight" from a jump blues to a showy rocker. The most notable trend, however, was white pop covers of black R&B numbers. Exceptions to this rule were found, such as Wynonie Harris covering the Louis Prima rocker, "Oh Babe," in 1950, and Amos Milburn covering what may have been the first white rock and roll record, Hardrock Gunter's "Birmingham Bounce," in 1949.

Black performers saw their songs recorded by white performers, an important step in the dissemination of the music, but often at the cost of feeling and authenticity. Most famously, Pat Boone recorded sanitized versions of Little Richard songs, though Boone found "Long Tall Sally" so intense that he couldn't cover it. Later, as those songs became popular, the original artists' recordings received radio play as well. Little Richard once called Pat Boone from the audience and introduced him as "the man who made me a millionaire".

The cover versions were not necessarily straightforward imitations. For example, Bill Haley's incompletely bowdlerized cover of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" transformed Big Joe Turner's humorous and racy tale of adult love into an energetic teen dance number, while Georgia Gibbs replaced Etta James's tough, sarcastic vocal in "Roll With Me, Henry" (covered as "Dance With Me, Henry") with a perkier vocal more appropriate for an audience unfamiliar with the song to which James's song was an answer, Hank Ballard's "Work With Me, Annie".

British rock and roll

The Trad jazz movement brought blues artists to Britain, and in 1955 Lonnie Donegan's version of "Rock Island Line" began Skiffle music which inspired many young people to have a go, including John Lennon whose "The Quarrymen", formed in March 1957, would gradually change and develop into The Beatles. This primed the United Kingdom to respond creatively to American rock and roll which had an impact across the globe. In Britain, skiffle groups, record collecting and trend-watching were in full bloom among the youth culture prior to the rock era, and color barriers were less of an issue with the idea of separate "race records" seeming almost unimaginable. Countless British youths listened to R&B and rock pioneers and began forming their own bands. Britain quickly became a new center of rock and roll.

In 1958 three British teenagers formed a good rock and roll group, Cliff Richard and the Drifters (later renamed Cliff Richard and the Shadows). The group recorded a hit, "Move It", marking not only what is held to be the very first true British rock 'n' roll single, but also the beginning of a different sound — British rock. Richard and his band introduced many important changes, such as using a "lead guitarist" (virtuoso Hank Marvin) and an electric bass.

The British scene developed, with others including Tommy Steele and Adam Faith vying to emulate the stars from the U.S.. Some touring acts attracted particular popularity in Britain, an example being Gene Vincent. This inspired many British teens to begin buying records and follow the music scene, thus laying the groundwork for Beatlemania.

At the start of the '60s instrumental dance music was very popular, with hits including Apache by The Shadows and Telstar by The Tornados from a British branch of Surf instrumental music.

In the 1970s Britain was subject to three major musical renovations - "glam rock" (largely influenced by the "sexual revolution" and lasting roughly from 1971 to 1975), the infulential punk rock movement from 1976 to 1980, and "epic" rock (combining blues, heavy metal, classical music and psychedelia), popularized by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Pink Floyd.


The Fifties by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Halberstam (1996) Random House (ISBN 0517156075) provides information and analysis on Fifties popular culture exploring major social and cultural changes including television, transistor radios, the phenomenon of Elvis Presley and the rise of rock-and-roll.
The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll : The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music by editors James Henke, Holly George-Warren, Anthony Decurtis, Jim Miller. (1992) Random House (ISBN 0679737286)
The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll by Holly George-Warren, Patricia Romanowski, Jon Pareles (2001) Fireside Press (ISBN 0743201205)

See also

External links

Rock and roll | Rock genres
Aboriginal rock | Alternative rock | Anatolian rock | Art rock | Blues-rock | Boogaloo | British Invasion | Cello rock | Chicano rock | Christian rock | Country rock | Emo | Folk-rock | Garage rock | Girl group | Glam metal | Glam rock | Hard rock | Hardcore | Heartland rock | Heavy metal | Instrumental rock | Jangle pop | Krautrock | Madchester | Piano rock | Post-rock | Power pop | Progressive rock | Psychedelia | Pub rock (Aussie) | Pub rock (UK) | Punk rock | Punta rock | Rockabilly | Skiffle | Soft rock | Southern rock | Surf | Symphonic rock

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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