Popular Music Revolution Essay

This essay has a total of 1519 words and 6 pages.

Popular Music Revolution


Music has undergone many changes throughout and history and prehistory. These changes were
always somehow connected to sociological movements at the time. Rock music evolved mostly
out of a need by young people of the fifties to break away from so-cietal norms. America
had just come out of the Korean War, and men looked to settle down into a peaceful life.
Also just prior this time period, Senator Joseph McCarthy ac-tively encouraged citizens to
conform with his infamously false accusations of Commu-nism. "McCarthy spectacularly
charged that there were scores of known Communists in the Department of State" (Bailey
887). This made people fearful that they would be tried as Communists and led most to
conform to a common societal standard. When the nation emerged from this era, teenagers
sought to rebel against their parental authorities. They created everything from new
styles of clothing to new styles of music to promote their newfound individuality. The new
style of music evolving at the time was called Rock and Roll. "Rock has been influenced by
country music, by the blues, by classical music, by calypso, by traditional folk styles,
and by a variety of other music conventions" (Belz vii). This variety reflects the varied
backgrounds of young people at the time. Early successes in this new music genre included
Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry. This music only succeeded because
the conditions in society and the opinions of the youth in that time period allowed it to
succeed. This music revolution is not unique. Similar revolutions will occur if and when
the circumstances permit. Modern music is going this direction, but has not reached the
point of a new genre as of yet because conditions in so-ciety have not allowed a radical
change.

One of the most obvious elements which separates rock music from previous forms of musical
expression is a dominant rhythm accenting a strong beat. Rhythm is de-fined as "a basic
element of music concerned with the duration of tones and the stresses or accents placed
upon them" (Columbia Encyclopedia). Rhythm, developed in the 12th century, was not a new
phenomenon; however, previously, the only musical genre to place so much emphasis on
rhythm was Rhythm and Blues, from which rock derived much of its sound patterns. These
"had their roots in slavery, borrowed their rhythms from church, and took their vitality
from the intensity with which people who endured hard lives en-joyed good times" (Fabulous
Decade 104). Although this emphasis on a driving beat originally sprung from R&B, it
quickly mutated into its own unique form. This presuma-bly was to facilitate dancing to
the beat, and this became the reason many parents and other adults protested this type of
music. Many performers' onstage dancing styles were considered "lewd and inappropriate for
their children." This became another reason for the music's popularity because they were
given a chance to rebel against their parents. There is nothing prohibiting a situation
like this from happening again. Today, teenagers in general strive to become different
from their parents. This causes new styles to emerge in music. The most common deviation
form the main rock theme is vulgarity in lyrics. Sublime, a popular alternative rock band,
has quickly found success with the teenage audience. The two most played songs on their
first album, 40 oz. To Freedom, being "Date Rape" and "Smoke Two Joints." The lyrics
reflect the tendency of youth to rebel against laws and authority. "I smoke two joints in
time of peace, and two in time of war/ I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints/and
then I smoke two more." This is an ob-vious attempt to aggravate the attitudes of parents,
and although added vulgarities and drug references do not constitute a new form of music,
under extreme circumstances, the conventions could deviate enough to allow something new
to emerge.

Smaller revolutions have occurred. The genre underwent a major transformation on "the day
the music died." Don McLean's "American Pie" outlines what happened after the historic
deaths of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in a plane crash on February 3,
1959. "The entire song is a tribute to Buddy Holly and a commentary on how rock and roll
changed in the years since his death. McLean seems to be lamenting the death of
‘danceable' music in rock and roll and (in part) attributing that lack to the ab-sence
of Buddy Holly et. al" (Kulawiec 1995). Rock music did continue to evolve after that
point, and the song "American Pie" itself gives evidence of this. "American Pie"
em-phasizes the lyrics as the most important part of the song rather than the beat.
Although it is possible to dance to this song, the original intent was probably more like
folk music (an integral part of rock today) than a dance tune. Another revolution occurred
with the ad-vent of disco, which brought dance music back to the spotlight. Rap and
Hip-hop are not really related to rock and roll as closely as other offshoots, but they
are obviously influ-enced somewhat by the vitality that a rock or folk lyric exudes. To
get enough protest from teens to start a music revolution, another major war must be
fought. Conscription must be reinstituted in the United States. Deaths of friends and
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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