Rock Music

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A Genealogy of Rock Music

Today, the term Rock Music brings about images of wild hotel parties, pyrotechnics, drugs, plane crashes and iconic frontmen. However, in order to form a real understanding of how rock music came to be the legendary style that it is today, we must understand its origins. Rock music is rooted deep in America’s most trivial times- in the songs of African American slaves- from the Mississippi Delta right up to the Mason-Dixon line, it is a simple musical styling that is popularly described as “three chords, and the truth”- the way it should be.

In order to grasp an understanding of where Rock Music came from, we must first understand what it is. Today, the term “Rock” is used as a blanket term, to include alternative styles of reggae, metal, alternative, rock ‘n’ roll, and hundreds of other crazy genres and sub-genres. Most agree that rock music, in its purest form, is a simple, unsyncopated type of music grounded in a 4/4 time signature, with the most prominent lead instruments being vocals and electric guitar, and the rhythm being driven by a bass guitar (or stand-up bass) and simple, driving drumming. In addition, there is often piano, or Hammond organ added to give the music a fuller, more bluesy and rooted sound. There are obviously hundreds of variations on this style, as bands like The Dave Matthews Band have incorporated violin and saxophone into a jazz and world-beat driven rock style, or bands like The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Orchestra-Rock styling employing 33 musicians in one band.

Of all the hundreds of styles, differing from band to band, we must be able to decipher rock music’s true roots. It is questionable where rock’s first appearance was made, but it is the general consensus that it began to appear in the early 1950’s. Now- famous Disc Jockey Alan Freed of Columbus, Ohio, coined the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll” in 1951, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Many argue who had the first, true “Rock ‘n’ Roll”...
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