Composition 102: The 1970’s
27 March 2008
Music in the 1970’s
“The conventional wisdom is that Minimalism- an idiom of clear, non decorative lines, repetition, and great tonal simplicity, which arose in the 1960’s and 70’s – was the last identifiable new style in music history. Actually, there has been an acceleration of new styles, many of them building on minimalist roots toward greater and world-music-inspired complexity.” (p 297)
Many “radical” ideas of the nineteen sixties gained wider acceptance in the new decade of the seventies and were mainstreamed into American life and culture. An era, filled with new variations of sounds and styles, allowed many new genres to gain popularity and recognition. The “psychedelic” sixties introduced us to rock and roll, funk, and music created based on the effects of drugs and the feelings of peace and love. The nineteen seventies re-invented these sounds and exemplified the feeling of the general society. This era provided a strong foundation of political and social issues, which was a major influence on the lyrical aspect of these new songs. With rock and roll and funk flourishing, new genres began to branch off. Some of these offshoots were the disco dance craze and the start of a women’s rock revolution. Easy listening such as Bob Marley’s reggae was among favorites. Each genre proved to be different and unique, and affect the public in some way. The music was flourishing and was at its creative prime. Hard rock, in many ways, put an end to the creative nineteen sixties. Across the United States, hard rock became a way to affirm a less “confrontational” militant stance. Thoughts about current issues were expressed through these songs. Musically, hard rock was the terminal point of an evolution of blues. The melodic sounds of blues became the faster, louder, and stronger sounds of rock and roll. Songs in this genre use pop hooks and melodies along with heavy chords to produce a different sound. Hard rock’s popularity dominated the decade. Artists such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Steve Miller were all successful rockers whose songs topped the charts. These singer/songwriters created “soul-baring” tracks. Artists, such as David Bowie and Led Zeppelin, became somewhat like the Beatles of the seventies. Their futuristic visions and thoughts of change took over rock and roll. Pink Floyd contributed experimental rock to this decade. One example of experimental rock is using keyboards and synthesizers to create new bursts of sound. The punk rock genre also emerged in the 1970s. This was also a very upbeat style. What differentiated this from classic rock were its heavier sounds. Heavy guitar riffs and more decibels were added to songs to create a new sound of rock. Bands such as the Ramones and Sex Pistols became staples in punk Along with musical styles came fashion styles. The folkie chic look of the sixties progressed into the electric hipster clad musician look. Rock stars were turned to for inspiration and became fashion icons. Tight pants, long flowing hair, and sex appeal were all aspects of this new trend. This look drew many fans, especially female, and became a staple of the industry. Leather jackets, black eyeliner and ripped jeans also were popular styles. By mid decade, some were starting to miss the dance element, as most rock was now beginning to be produced for pop radio and album listening. This helped launch the short-lived "disco" fad. Disco began in 1974 as an underground phenomenon. Defined by Afro wigs and tight polyester suits, the sounds of disco were the start for inspiration of pop and dance music. Funk and soul music were two contributors to the unique sound. The music was catchy and up-tempo, which made disco a genre used for disco dancing. Reverberated vocals accompanied by electric instruments created the sound. Its origins lie in the popularity with the gay and black audiences in large United States cities. The name derives from...
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