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Surf rock

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Surf rock

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Surf rock is a style of music that originated in the USA that mixes elements of surf music and rock music. While in the 1960s surf music and rock n' roll were distinct styles, associated with competing dance styles and representing distinct and competing youth cultures, the development of rock music since then has built upon both styles. Many authorities now retrospectively classify all surf bands as rock bands, and surf music therefore as a subgenre of rock music.

A typical surf amplifier setup consists of a Fender Reverb spring reverberation unit used with a Fender blackface Twin Reverb amplifier. For a guitar, a Fender Jazzmaster, Mosrite, Teisco, or Danelectro are standard choices. Fender, Danelectro, Mosrite bass guitars are common as well. Surf drum kits tend to be Rogers, Ludwig, or Slingerland.

Duane Eddy's instrumental "Movin' and Groovin" is thought by many to be the main contender for laying the groundwork as the first surf rock record, while others claim the genre was invented by Dick Dale on Let's Go Trippin', an instrumental which became a hit throughout California.

Dale's influence on the surf genre was profound. He was a surfer himself and sought to transfer the excitement and adrenaline of the sport through his guitar playing. He often drew on his Lebanese heritage, incorporating modal tonalities and instruments such as finger cymbals and reeds. Many surf bands that followed him incorporated Eastern influences, as well as Dale's generous use of reverb. His fast staccato playing was also very influential and an important part of the early surf sound, perhaps even more so than the reverb, which was only introduced years after Dale had already released his first albums. In Australia, which has always had a strong beach culture, the genre was strongly embraced in the 1960's, although Australian surf rock bands such as The Atlantics took their influences more from the famed British instrumental band The Shadows.

Instrumental rock band The Ventures also had a number of surf hits, their most widely known being "Walk Don't Run". The Chantays recorded a top single with "Pipeline". Probably the most widely known surf melody, however, is from a song "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris.

During the mid- to late 1990s, surf rock experienced a revival in the works of such artists as The Blue Stingrays, Bomboras, Man... or Astro-Man?, and The Aqua Velvets. The popularity of the movie "Pulp Fiction" which featured surf music fuelled the revival well into this century.

While known as a genre that developed on the west coast of the United States, the recent revival has sparked an insurgance of East Coast Surf bands. Some of these include The Howlin' Thurstons and Strange But Surf based on NY's Long Island. Which is also the home of a growing surfing scene.

For an exhaustive website reviewing surf music past and present, see



Spy Rock is a subgenre of surf rock featuring similarly complex melodies, usually set in minor keys, evocative of film noir. Examples include the bands Double Naught Spy Car and the Twenty-Twos.

Surfabilly is a subgenre often featuring traditional surf melodies played over rockabilly chord structures. Examples include the bands The Red Elvises, Southern Culture on the Skids, and The Young Werewolves.

Hot Rod Rock (also called Drag Rock) is also a subgenre of surf rock. Traditional surf rock sounds are applied to lyrics about the also rising hot rod culture. For a few years it gained mass popularity. The Rip-Chords, Ronny and the Daytonas, and The Hondells are good examples of this subgenre. The Beach Boys and Dick Dale produced songs in this subgenre such as "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Mag Wheels".

Space Rock is a subgenre of surf rock. It contains many of the characteristics of the "true" surf rock sound, but it also contains many elements from pop and rockabilly. The lyrics also deal instead of surf with the space race. The album The Ventures in Space is a good example.

Surf Punk is a highly inclusive subgenre of surf rock that incorporates many of the styles and attitudes of punk music with traditional vocal and instrumental surf. The Ramones experimented with surf and numerous small bands of the midwest currently perform this style. Aggressive drumming, distortion coupled with reverb, fast chord changes, and intense vocal stylings are the trademark. The Amino Acids of Detroit, Michigan and The Deformities of Omaha, Nebraska, and others like Estrume'n'tal, build on this genre, while bringing in other influences such as heavy metal and/or psychobilly.

See also

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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.