The World of Music

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Ever since humans first learned how to make music with their voices and with instruments thousands of years ago, music has been changing. Some changes took place over hundreds or even thousands of years, stunted by human isolation or by guidelines set in place by religious institutions. The 20th century, in contrast, experienced several rapid, radical changes in the popular genres of music. This made the 20th century a very rich time period for musical culture. These remarkable genres--including, but not limited to jazz, rock and roll, and the music of the “British invasion”--all influenced one another, and all influenced the culture we still live in today.
The rise of jazz has been one of the most revolutionary changes of all time in terms of musical culture. Jazz grew out of the blues, a genre of music largely occupied by African-American musicians and characterized by deep solo voices vocalizing along with a guitar, singing about loneliness and oppression. Jazz reached its peak popularity in the 1920’s, also known as the “roaring twenties” or the “Jazz Age.” The newly-created prohibition law meant that people had to go out and find secret “speakeasies” to drink in. The rebellious, wild spirit of those who gathered at these social drinking events inspired them to dance. And a new kind of dancing was called for, something loud, exhilarating, and fun. Thus, jazz, with all its loud trumpets and saxophones blaring alongside its silky smooth voices, was born. It wasn’t just a style of music, it was a lifestyle. Because of jazz, America saw African-American musicians rise to fame for the first time. Legends such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Dizzy Gillespie were all born in the intoxicating atmo...

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...ho, and The Rolling Stones. The Who electrified the grunge scene, while The Rolling Stones emphasized their punk attitude. By contrast, The Beatles were the fresh, clean British boys who sang sweet, innocent songs that even conservative parents could embrace. This accessibility undoubtedly contributed to their long-lasting fame. Their music is still incredibly famous to this day, and influenced tons of musicians for years after reaching their peak popularity, making them--and the British invasion as a whole--part of one of the most significant musical upheavals of the 20th century.
The world experienced several musical revolutions in just the 100 short years of the 20th century. Everything from jazz to rock and roll to the British invasion helped unite generations of youth and helped drastically change and shape the culture in which we lived, and still live, today.
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