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Who Invented Rock and Roll?

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History of Rock and Roll Who invented rock and roll? Well, the answer is nobody. Rock music is the innovation and evolution of many different types of music from a wide variety of groups of people. No one planned rock and roll, and it took over a great deal of American culture and revolutionized popular music. Rock and roll was influenced by African American music as well as white American styles. Since the introduction of minstrel shows in America in 1840, people have created and developed many other kinds of music. Mostly originated from African Americans, swing, blues, and jazz music was an early beginning to rock music. Many musical qualities were brought with African slaves into America. Some of the qualities include improvisation, “call and response” singing, and a dynamic rhythm. They created spiritual music and blues, which later evolved into what we know today as gospel music and “rhythm and blues.” White American music is based on of folk-style songs, mostly ballads in small bands of musical instruments. At the start of the 20th century, these folk style songs became referred to as hillbilly music. The transition to country-western music began with singers like Jimmie Rodgers and Gene Autry. After World War II, soldiers returning home wanted to feel at home again. This started the era of playing music on the radio, with programs such as Grand Ole Opry, which still runs today. This genre of music used guitars, Hawaiian guitar and drums on occasion to create a new image for country-western music. People realized they can make a living from producing music, and so the music market had emerged. In the early 1950’s rock and roll dominated the radio on the home front and abroad too. Rock and roll successfully expanded by turning swing music into the complete opposite. Swing music was soft, when rock was loud. Swing lyrics were poetic, and rock was crude. By 1963, this revolution of rock and roll music became the American popular music. As new instruments and more arrangements emerged, America got a little taste of England. Many British music groups were introduced to America in the early 1960’s, with the Beatles being the most widely known rock group to come from England. A newly modified version of rock music, along with newer instruments, made their way into recordings. This experiment of rock with a British twist brought a new element to what America’s well established popular music. By 1965, rock music had split into different styles. People’s rock preference ranged from Jimi Hendrix to the Rolling Stones. Some music fans wanted to hear heavy rock and roll, others wanted a more sophisticated type of rock. The different types of rock continued over the decade. Many, many kinds of rock music emerged with a universal audience. A development of American music was the California Sound. The Beach Boys contributed a lot to this era of music and were popular nationwide. These songs gave the feeling of eternal fun, with lyrics about surfing, summer, and fast cars. This surf music era did not last long due to some major performers being in tragic car accidents, so this type of rock was more or less a fad. The next generation of music found inspiration in folk ballads. The younger generation developed their own idea of how songs should be written and performed. These songs involved more emotional expression and commitment. Bob Dylan was a very popular musician in this period of time. The newly introduced “folk-rock” came with the idea that songs were something to be thought about, and less about just something to dance to. At the time, this idea was far-fetched and drastic. This was a completely different take on music. Leading into the early 1970’s was a period of social problems and distortion everywhere. Most of this had to with the drug culture, which acid-rock bands developed from. Due to the effects of certain drugs, the kind of music that came about was unbelievably loud volume, electronic distortion and repetition, accompanied by strobe lights. The Grateful dead was a popular group during this time, as well as Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix created sounds on a guitar that no one had ever done/heard. Another movement in rock music following the drug culture would be heavy metal. During this same time period was when black pop-rock groups came into the spotlight. Many kept the traditional blues and gospel sound, while others used traditional music styles as well as white country and studio bands. This sound became known as Motown. As African American groups attracted bigger audiences, the difference between white and black music became more apparent. Also during the late 1960’s jazz and rock music had joined together in the group Blood, Sweat and Tears. Jazz had been around rock music for nearly 20 years before they combined the two styles. The group was very successful in the music industry, combining a heavy rock beat with jazz-style solos. Miles Davis, a trumpet player, experimented a lot with the fusion of jazz into the modern music at the time. This became an interesting style, broadening the possibilities of mainstream music. Many other musicians, such as Weather Report and Spyro Gyra caught on the trend of jazz fusion and more experimenting began with the new style. The different styles of rock in the 1960’s led to even more diverse and extreme style of music in the 1970’s. Such styles included disco, reggae, punk, and eventually a new wave of music. Disco music was basically dancing music, not music to be seriously listened to. This craze hit America after John Travolta’s performance in “Saturday Night Fever.” Disco music was also a fad just like the surf music had been. The sound of Reggae came from the Caribbean island of Jamaica. In America, reggae is mostly known due to the band Bob Marley and the Wailers. Reggae influence was used in American pop-rock too during the decade, but was more popular in Jamaica. Punk rock appeared in America too, however, it was more successful in Great Britain. Punk began as an expression of anger and crude behavior/language. Rock music had sort of started to meet its end, and say hello to new wave bands. As the styles of rock and roll music changed dramatically from the early 1950’s on, new musical combinations and advances in technology contributed very much to the development of the very broad spectrum of music we call “rock.” In the previously stated new wave, arose rap music, music television (MTV), and an extremely huge market for musicians and performers. The creation of music videos were a big part of the market. Fans could see their favorite singers and bands sing their favorite songs. This still continues today and with the use of even more advanced technology and social media, music is everywhere. Back to my original question: Who invented rock and roll? My answer is everyone. Everybody created their own versions of music that we base today’s music on. The origin of rock and roll is very broad, but there are so many artists that have helped it evolve along the way. From Elvis Presley to Led Zepplein to Michael Jackson, rock music is diverse, but has brought so many people together for one purpose- to enjoy music.

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