The Evolution Of Rock And Roll

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I grew up with four older brothers, so it was only natural for me to develop a taste for good old-fashioned rock and roll from a very young age. While my friends and peers were still swooning over the latest boy bands, I was rocking to the great sounds of the 1970′s and ’80′s. It wasn’t until high school that everyone else caught up.

However, I can honestly say that it took me a long time to appreciate the roots of this genre of music that has transformed the entire world. A form of rock and roll exists in almost every culture across the globe.

The term rock and roll as we use it today was coined by Alan Freed, a DJ from Cleveland, in 1951–so as far as music goes, it is still a fairly young genre, though the style began as early as the ’40′s, after World War II.

It evolved out of blues, which developed previously out of rhythm and blues. There are also heavy influences from country, rockabilly, jazz, and even gospel music. Initially, rock music was distinguished by the incorporation of one or two electric guitars, though today, the necessity for an electric guitar in a rock band seems to have vanished.

In fact, there is even a movement within groups of self-proclaimed “rock stars,” to increase the use of both acoustic and classical guitars. For convenience sake, artists with a diversified sound tend to use a sort of “crossbreed,” guitar simply dubbed the acoustic electric.

After the mid-1950′s, a string bass or electric bass guitar was introduced and became one of the key factors in a typical rock band. A full drum set was also added to diversify and intensify the sound. You may be surprised to learn that the earliest forms of rock also included either the saxophone or the piano (or sometimes both), pointing to blues and jazz ties mentioned earlier.

Again, there is a contemporary movement within rock and roll to reintroduce the piano to replace the sound of the keyboard, but the great diversity that now exists across cultures and the evolution of rock has allowed for splintered genres which are geared toward these variations of sound.

Of course, because of the newness and the perceived “loudness,” of emerging rock and roll, it was generally absorbed by youth, which, in turn, led artists to continue to direct their music at the young. It was also meant to override racial boundaries, as many disc jockeys proclaimed it as a new kind of music that would appeal to both black and white.

I can certainly see their point. As my friends have taken years to “awake,” to the great music that is out there (besides just the contemporary artists), I have welcomed each of them into the fold of rock and roll.

About the Author

Starr’s Guitars ( a full-line musical instrument store. Art Gib is a freelance writer.

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