1. The Roots of Rock and Roll The early roots of rock and roll can be traced back to Africa. Music with a hard driving rhythm played an important part in daily tribal life. Songs were used for 3 reasons: • Work • Entertainment • Communication
Songs also kept a kind of vocal history instead of a history written in books (like today’s folk music). When slaves were brought to America in the 1600’s, they “brought” their music with them. African music supplies the rhythm or beat which eventually developed into rock and roll
2. The Blues While they worked in the fields, slaves would sing songs to help them through their tough work day. They also sang sad or melancholy songs in their homes or places of worship. Slavery ended in 1865, but newly freed African Americans continued to lead hard lives. This newfound sense of isolation and hardship is the basis of the blues.
The first Blues singer wandered around the southern United States with guitars singing about their lives and hardships. The musical form (pattern) used in the blues is called the Twelve Bar Blues. The musical style of the blues combined classical music and African music. From 1920-1930 African American musicians such as Robert Johnson sang the blues in roadhouses and juke joints.
The Characteristics of the Blues: • Slow and sad music • Instruments are guitar (often with a slide) and harmonica (which could be replaced by saxophone). • Lyrics (words) are very simple and repetitive ( twelve bar blues).
3. Twelve Bar Blues The twelve bar blues is a common chord progression (pattern) found in many types of rock and roll. The simple and repetitive nature of the twelve bar blues make it easy to play and sing.
Pattern of the Lyrics: Line one – makes a statement Line two – a repeat of line one Lines three and four – draw a conclusion (the last word of line four rhymes with the last word of line one (a) You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog crying all the time (a) You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog crying all the time (b) You’ve never caught a rabbit and you ain’t no friend of mine
12 Bar Blues Chord Progression (pattern) CCCC CCCC CCCC CCCC FFFF FFFF CCCC CCCC GGGG FFFF CCCC CCCC
The 50’s: The Birth of Rock and Roll Rhythm and Blues The 50’s began with rhythm and blues, which was music played by and listened to by African Americans. Two important musicians of Rhythm and Blues are: 1. Fats Domino 2. Chuck Berry
The Characteristics of Rhythm and Blues: • Fast and cheerful music • Use of electric instruments • Easy to dance to • Uses the twelve bar blues chord progression
Alan Freed In 1955 a white disc jockey named Alan Freed introduced rhythm and blues to the large white audience in Cincinnati, Ohio. He changed the name of rhythm and blues to rock and roll. Record sales boomed and Bill Hailey’s “Rock around the Clock” was the 1st giant Rock and Roll hit.
Later Freed was disgraced for bribing people in order for him to play their records. This scandal, which became known as Payola, shook the recording industry and ruined Freed’s disc jockey career.
Elvis Presley Elvis grew up very poor in Tennessee listening to Rhythm and Blues of the African American community. He sang and recorded music influenced by his life experiences and he proudly stated that he sounded like no one else.
In 1953, a young Elvis walked into Sun Records and recorded a couple of songs. A few months later, the owner of Sun Records, Sam Phillips hired Elvis. It was often quoted that Elvis was a “white boy who sang African American music”. Phillips realized that Elvis put his whole heart and soul into the music. In 1955, Phillips sold Elvis’ contract to RCA records for $35,000.
Even though many parents believed Rock and Roll was an evil influence on young people, Elvis became an instant success with teenagers. His good looks and gyrating hips brought Rock and Roll into every home. Elvis had become the first superstar with remakes of old Rhythm and Blues songs. With all his success, it is important to remember that Elvis never performed outside the U.S.
5. The 5 characteristics of Rock and Roll 1. Easy to sing melodies 2. Amplification and use of electrical equipment 3. Loudness 4. Songs about the cares and wants of young people 5. Rock songs have repeated words and music (chorus and verse style)
Towards the end of the 1950’s, rock and roll lost many of its great artists. Elvis Presley was drafted into the army; Little Richard quit rock and roll; Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash. This crash was a tragic event that resulted in the song “American Pie”.
The Beatlesand the English Invasion In the 60’s, British rock groups such as the Beatles and The Rolling Stones began to remake old rhythm and blues songs using more amplification. When you remake a song it is called a cover version. The Beatles had become the first rock and roll super group and had a very large impact on young people and society in general.
The Beatles first appearance in the U.S. was on the Ed Sullivan show on February, 1964. The Ed Sullivan show was the 1st TV appearance for many bands and performers in the 60’s. A fad towards long hair started a rebellion between young people and their parents. This idea of using music to express frustration with parents and older people can still be seen today.
Influences of the Beatles: • Multi-tracking/overdubbing in their recordings • Use of classical instruments in songs • Long hair and different clothes (style) • Combing different styles of music – crossover music
7. Styles of Rock Music California Rock • Surfer music of the 60’s • High pitched voices • 4 and 5 part harmonies • Beach Boys, Jan and Dean
Folk Rock • words expressed society’s concerns-war, racism, politics…. • music relayed a message performers hoped would make people take action • Combined acoustic and electric instruments • Woodstock was a huge event that showcased all the great performers of the day • Crosby, Stills and Nash/ Simon and Garfunkle
Studio Rock • music recorded in a studio and cannot be reproduced live. • many unique sounds • Extensive use of electrical equipment • Multi-tracking is used a great deal • Beatles / The Rolling Stones / Elvis • Disco grew out of studio Rock • Donna Summer / The Bee Gees
Hard Rock • rock of the 70’s • forerunner of heavy metal • very loud and harsh sounding compared to music of the past • Kiss / ACDC / Led Zepplin
Acid Rock • Music inspired by drugs (overdose/death) • Psychedelic sound and strange words • Experimentation of sounds and words • Jimi Hendrix / Janis Joplin/ The Doors
Heavy Metal • Louder and faster music than in the past • Use of synthesized sounds • Improvisation in solos (classical influence) • Often created controversy with aggressive lyrics • Black Sabbath / Metallica • The first mention of the term “Heavy Metal” is in a song by Steppenwolf called “Born to be Wild” - 1973