1950's/ 60's in Music

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The 1950’s and 1960’s represented a turning point for music – it was the first time when teenagers started to have there own image and as a result, their own music. The instrumentation, subject material for lyrics and use of harmony changed drastically in the 50’s and continued to develop into the 60’s. New genres developed at the same time as this turning point such as rock, R&B, swing and pop.

The use of electric guitar, drum kit, keyboard, bass guitar and vocals as a common set up started in the 60’s with The Beatles. Songs such as “Hey Bulldog” and “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heats Club Band” saw the transition from twelve bar blues to rifts and rock. Other genres such as R&B saw use of horns, piano, vocals, background vocals and electric guitar before its demise in the 60’s.

Subject material for lyrics in the 50’s tend to be about romance and sorrow. “AA boy without a girl” by Frankle Avalon contains themes of both love and sorrow, through lyrics such as “…And since you've come to me All the world has come to shine, Cause I found a girl who’s mine.” The Beatles broke away from this tradition with their nonsense lyrics in “ I am the Walrus” but other bands did not replicate this. Another trend in the late 50’s early 60’s was to sing about dance and freedom such as “Jailhouse Rock” by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for Elvis, one of the later songs to continue the use of twelve bar blues.

The 50’s progression was a chord progression and turnaround used in the 50’s and early 60’s by doo-wop and later rock. The progression follows the pattern I vi IV V. Well known examples of the progression include The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever” and Penguins “ Earth angel”. A modern version of the progression can be heard in Green Day’s “ Jesus of Suburbia” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby”. Most classic rock in the 50’s saw use of the twelve bar blues. Twelve bar blues is a chord progression, which most often follows the pattern of I I I I IV IV I I V V I I.

With the...
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