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Rock and Roll
Rock and roll is a music genre that aimed at reflecting the social mood of American youth in the 1950s. Despite the fact that the older generation hoped that it was a passing fad, rock and roll became one of the most popular music forms around the world. Firstly, it was the music that embodied teenagers’ rebellion, but later this genre turned out to create the philosophy of the whole epoch. The aim of this essay is to discuss the main characteristics, the origin and present the “pioneers” of rock and roll. Moreover, the paper focuses on the influence of British artists on the later development of this music genre.
Firstly, rock and roll was a combination of African-American genres, Western swing, country, and gospel music that emerged in the late 1940s in the Southern United States. African-American genres such as blues, jump blues, jazz, and boogie-woogie predominated in the formation of the new music form. In fact, rock and roll followed in the earlier tradition of swing music and the rhythm and blues that based on the syncopated beats but not the straight ones. Thus, the most important thing about rock and roll is the usage of the blues rhythm with an accentuated backbeat that made it the dance music that appealed to teenagers. Furthermore, the electric guitar replaced the piano and the saxophone that were the most commonly used solo instruments before the 1950s. The guitar only emphasized the rhythmic nature of the new genre and “refreshed” the conception of the sound of that time. Thus, one may claim that the combination of the music of two races created a new form of music that has such distinctive features as rhythmic nature, quick tempo, and “free” musical performance.
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The thing is that the social and economic situation of America that emerged after the Second World War influenced the birth of rock and roll. Firstly, many of big jazz groups that dominated before the war broke up during the military conflict. New smaller bands appeared, but their participants preferred electrically amplified guitars and snare drums to pianos, harmonicas, and saxophones. Secondly, black people who went to the Northern States to work in the big cities started to spread African-American “race” music there. The representatives of the younger population did not understand the music rhythm of the songs that belonged to their parents’ epoch. In fact, it was much easier for teenagers to perceive African-American rhythm and memorize the lyrics that often contained slang. Thus, the sound of “black music” brought from the Southern America turned out to reflect the youth’s world perception of that time. Therefore, rock and roll symbolized the rebellion of teenagers that wanted to break the system and make the world more appealing to them.
Despite the fact that many artists contributed to the creation of rock and roll, one should name Alan Freed, Bill Halley, and Elvis Presley the pioneers of the genre. Alan Freed is considered the first person who used the phrase “rock and roll.” In 1952, working as a disk jockey, he used this expression to describe the combination of “white” and “black” music played for the multi-racial audience. Bill Haley, who was initially a country singer, became a “Father” of rock and roll and the first “white” star of the “black music”. The thing is that when he was on tour around the country, he noticed that youth adopted African-American slang and the way the black youth danced. Thus, he combined rhythm and blues and country to create the kind of music appealing to the young population. Haley’s song “Rock around the clock” became one of the first rock and roll first hits. Elvis Presley, known as “The King of Rock and Roll” became one of the most influential artists of the genre. Elvis Presley was one of the establishers of the classical sound of rock and roll. Elvis’ experiment with the combination of the blues and country music made him one of the most famous artists of the genre for all times.
By the end of the 1960s, most of American rock and roll stars stopped singing because of different reasons, and the young British representatives of the genre replaced them at the American and worldwide stage. This phenomenon was called the British Invasion. It influenced the development of rock and roll because British artists added pop music to the music forms that already determined the genre characteristics. The pop and rock band, the Beatles, is recognized for leading the musical invention into America in the 1960s. The Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Who were also rock and rolls groups that became popular in America in the 1960s. The British invasion had a significant impact on rock and roll at that time because it internationalized its production. Moreover, it made musicians experiment with the existing music forms and create the new original ones.
Summing up, rock and roll is a music genre that evolved in the Southern States of America in the 1950s. It was a combination of Western swing, country, gospel music, and African-American music forms that predominated. The rhythmic nature, quick tempo, and the guitar as a solo instrument were the distinguishing characteristics of the genre. In fact, the labor migration of black people to the North of America caused the spread of “race” music among the youth. In 1952, Alan Freed used the expression “rock and roll” on the radio. Bill Halley was the first “white” star of the “black music.” Moreover, Elvis Presley became “The King of Rock and Roll.” However, in the 1960s, young British groups that replaced American rock and roll stars and continued to internationalize and experiment with this genre.
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