Rock music is characterized by judgmental aspects based on the concept and context upon which this music is developed. This can be compared to the scenario that the fruits a tree bear consequently drives the judgments that are likely to be made for that particular tree. The baseline of understanding this kind of music is first tracing the roots of rock music so that the resultant effects and evolvement characteristic of rock music can be manifested. Different genres have evolved with time as well as the musical styles associated with rock music. In this regard, the history of rock music can be traced way back in time, and so is the consideration of this paper.
History of Rock Music
Rock music is purely based on mystery as time and its development is concerned. The concept and the context of rock music and its development is mysterious as far as the roots of rock music are concerned. These mysteries can be accounted for right from the ancient rituals that were conducted in the temples, more specifically Pagan, Babylon (Campbell, 2008). The origin of this music is actually religious. This has been evidenced over time by the fact that rock music has been integrated orgies and has further been associated with devil worshipping. The Pagan worship integrated music concepts into its dealings, with rock music being the key player.
Modern history identifies Egypt as the sole origin of rock music. It is important to note that music since time in memorial has been an important aspect that is well integrated with the lives of the inhabitants of Egypt. As a matter of fact, music has been a determinant of emotions. Rock music specifically has been for a long time been deemed to be a source of immorality. This kind of music has also been seen to incite hypnosis to the masses. This is evidenced by the rhythms that constitute rock music. Moreover, there are elements of rock music that are directly identified from all the harmonies and rhythms of music that constitute genres of rock music.
Aristotle notes that different emotions can be influenced by rhythms and melodies, and that music can further nurture and consequently form a given character through its power to do so (Palmer, 2005). For example, music may carry the mood of melancholy or even effeminacy. Other developments of the same kind regard inciting abandonment, while others encourage self control or even nurture individuals and groups to becoming enthusiastic. From the Egyptian context, rock music spread to West regions of Africa, more specifically to the regions of Congo and Dahomey among others. An evidence for this constitutes a rock music related dance by the name “Danse du ventre” which is found in the Western parts of Congo. In Dahomey, the famous Voodoo religion is backed up by rock music. From Africa, rock music found its way to the Americas via slave ships which ferried slaves from Africa to America through the Atlantic (Palmer, 2005). This was around the year 1955, and years to come saw the evolution of rock music in various and diverse ways and elements.
The interaction and consequent exposure of the Egyptians, Africans and now the Americans brought about the influences of musical heritage amongst these groups. As a result of the slave trade, the European society was also brought on board. Musical emphasis and rhythmical uniqueness of the resultant music at the time were combined to constitute Jazz music. The fundamental and integral part of Jazz music was syncopation. Jazz was the path by which rock and roll emerged. The origin of Jazz is based on sexual acts, with history showing that this music was actually done for use in brothels. Evolution and further development of Jazz music led to the emergence of what is today known and recognized as rock and roll (Campbell, 2008). The history of rock music can therefore be traced right from Babylon to Africa and then to the Americas, before reaching the whole wide world.
The emergence of rock and roll was deemed to be a shift to rhythm from blues, thereby being considered to be a focal point in the life of a teenager. This helped in the establishment and creation of a common bond between and among the stakeholders. That is, both artists and the audience. Rock music has been associated with strength and might. The attitude and the energy associated with this kind of music has had its roots from the rhythms of sexual energy characteristic of it, especially given the fact that it evolved from Jazz. As a result rock music had been perceived to threaten children’s virtues. This followed the urge of getting physically excited, resultant to moving and shaking characteristic of rock music.
The rites and the practice of Pagan worship led to the emergence of rock. Pagan worship and the rites accorded to it therefore provide the roots upon which rock music grew and developed over time up to the present. By the year 1979 up to six (6) genres of rock music could be identified (Covach, 2009). These genres are considered below:
This is one of the many genres of rock music. The ternary form of this genre is considered multi-sectional. 16-bars gave the length of the section but at times asymmetry was evident in the context of doing this rock music genre. Quadruple meter was used to do this music (Campbell, 2008). However aspects of variations were evident from time to time and from artist to artist as well as from a given piece of music to another, as it was realized with the Beatles’ tomorrow never knows. Progressive rock mainly consists of allegretto-allegro temple, and so did the Beatles’ song. For example Glenn Frey’s “the eagles”. This is the reason behind this genre being referred to as experimental rock as well.
This is an advancement of earlier developed genres. Hard rock constitutes a structural arrangement of music that takes the form of already known Motown. However, differences tempo between the two are evident. That is, for example hard rock’s tempo is said to be andante-allegretto while on the other hand the Motown is said to have a tempo identified as andante-allegro. These are the major differentiating factors between the two but the concept upon which they are build lies within the same range of considered factors; for example Nickel Back’s Never Again and the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds which depicts this. These songs take the strophic form and employs fortissimo intensity of sound. The tempo of the beats is presto.
This genre occurred in the midst of rock music evolution around the time of Britain invasion. Binary and strophic forms of songs were at top gear at the time. Simple and triple quadruple meters were used, giving a 16-bars section length (Covach, 2009). An example of this is the Louis Jordan’s Cuckoo. For this song, the tempo that was much used at the time was either andante or allegretto, which by greater extent influenced the rhythm that the folk rock music took. The rhythm adopted to produce the folk rock music was as well associated with a given level of energy, ranging from low to high.
The works of Elvis Presley and the entire era of rock ability resulted to the emergence of new genre in rock music, by the name gospel rock. The music tempo was advanced as well as the section lengths of the songs that fall under this genre. The length was increased from the earlier 12-bars to a total of 16-bars based on the previous and earlier works by other artists (Covach, 2009). The tempo associated with this genre was not exactly specific but rather occurred between andante and presto based on the tastes, preferences and interests of the artist behind such work. An example of this is the blondie by Chris Stein. Heaven Sent by Keyshia Cole is another example whose instrumentation takes the mode of percussion as well as the binary form. It employs 16-bars section length. Its present ability is aided by the employment of mezzo forte dynamics. Further to the consideration of this genre, the rock energy associated with it was much less in comparison to earlier developments because it only occurred between low and medium.
This genre did not deviate from the folk rock by far. Slight differences that resulted from adjustments in the meter and tempo of folk rock saw the emergence of this rock genre. Another slight difference from folk rock in this genre of psychedelic rock was in the energy associated with doing songs under this genre. In this genre, the aspect of boogie-woogie was introduced, thereby making this genre true to its unique type (Palmer, 2005).
Delta and Urban Blues
This genre is composed of compositions of rock that applies 12-bars section length with the form of music being mainly strophic. Quadruple meter is characteristic of this genre as well a tempo that is either andante or allegro. Energy of composition and performance ranges from low to medium and therefore the boogie-woogie is not necessarily evident here. What followed in this process is the evolution of rock music to take the binary form, when urban blues came into focus during the time when this genre was developed. However, in the midst of these developments, some other aspects were retained, therefore unchanged as in the case with delta blues. An example of this is the “mothers of invention fame” by Frank Zappa. The song’s meter is quadruple, and employs pianissimo dynamic. The song is a 12-bar section length. Frank Zappa’s song has melodic and percussive rhythms, taking the same qualities as that done by Robert Johnson which is called Crossroad.
The mystery surrounding the origin of rock music is vital to the history of rock music. This music has become popular all over the globe in spite of all the opinions and comments thrown to it from region to region as well as everything it is associated with. This has made it lead globally over the years. The musical heritage associated with rock music cannot be ignored. The listening analysis has proven that rock music is a special one to study, especially due to the complexities and mysteries that surround it. Its strategic and conceptual development has brought an understanding of what rock music is all about and why it has turned out to be what it is today given its roots. The renaissance, baroque, folk and other local and international music has had its influence on rock music same case with the way rock music has influenced world music. The integration of these influences has made rock music be accommodated in the composition performance and development of contemporary music.
Campbell, M. (2008). Popular Music in America: And the Beat Goes on. Chicago: Cengage
Covach, J. (2009) “What’s that sound.” An introduction to rock and its history. California: W. W. Norton & Company; Second Edition
Palmer, R. (2005), "Rock Begins", in Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, 1976/1980, London: UK Editions.