Popular Music Revolution

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Music has undergone many changes throughout and history and prehistory. These changes were always somehow connected to sociological movements at the time. Rock music evolved mostly out of a need by young people of the fifties to break away from so-cietal norms. America had just come out of the Korean War, and men looked to settle down into a peaceful life. Also just prior this time period, Senator Joseph McCarthy ac-tively encouraged citizens to conform with his infamously false accusations of Commu-nism. “McCarthy spectacularly charged that there were scores of known Communists in the Department of State” (Bailey 887). This made people fearful that they would be tried as Communists and led most to conform to a common societal standard. When the nation emerged from this era, teenagers sought to rebel against their parental authorities. They created everything from new styles of clothing to new styles of music to promote their newfound individuality. The new style of music evolving at the time was called Rock and Roll. “Rock has been influenced by country music, by the blues, by classical music, by calypso, by traditional folk styles, and by a variety of other music conventions” (Belz vii). This variety reflects the varied backgrounds of young people at the time. Early successes in this new music genre included Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry. This music only succeeded because the conditions in society and the opinions of the youth in that time period allowed it to succeed. This music revolution is not unique. Similar revolutions will occur if and when the circumstances permit. Modern music is going this direction, but has not reached the point of a new genre as of yet because conditions in so-ciety have not allowed a radical change.
One of the most obvious elements which separates rock music from previous forms of musical expression is a dominant rhythm accenting a strong beat. Rhythm is de-fined as “a basic element of music concerned with the duration of tones and the stresses or accents placed upon them” (Columbia Encyclopedia). Rhythm, developed in the 12th century, was not a new phenomenon; however, previously, the only musical genre to place so much emphasis on rhythm was Rhythm and Blues, from which rock derived much of its sound patterns. These “had their roots in slavery, borrowed their rhythms ...

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...d of music heard by the public. The lyrics of modern songs indicate unruliness and anger among musicians. This indicates that the attitudes exist and it is possible that out of this overwhelming desire to resist authority, new songs will be written in new styles that may eventually lead to a new genre. The feeling that does not exist is the feeling that all citizens are the same and that they are conforming to societal standards. With increas-ing censorship of the Internet and privacy being infringed upon with new anti-terrorist laws, this feeling may begin to take hold of the nation. It is not within the foreseeable, however, because these issues do not affect most of the population. Music is a medium of expression for all people, so the people’s music must speak to the people. Smaller changes have been made to rock music in the last forty-five years. If this genre is so malleable, then change must come frequently. Once the elements are in place, music will undergo a change. Rock music evolved out of conditions in society. If these conditions exist again, another music revolution will occur. Many of the elements are already in place, it is only a matter of time before the change.

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