Pioneering rock artists of the ‘50s, such as Chuck Berry, leaned heavily on classic blues structures while demonstrating a flair as natural-born entertainers.
As opposed to the safe pop music of the era, rock’s aggressive attack suggested a sexual freedom that proved shocking during that conservative age.
By the early ‘60s, Berry’s followers, most notably the Rolling Stones, expanded rock’s scope by transitioning from singles artists into musicians capable of producing cohesive albums of songs.
But while people may quibble over specifics, rock music can generally be described as hard-edged music performed with electric guitars, bass, and drums and usually accompanied by lyrics sung by a vocalist.
That sounds simple enough, but a closer look at the evolution of rock music suggests how different styles and influences have shaped its development over the years.
But first, let’s take a look back at its formations.
Rock music’s origins can be traced back to the late 1940s, when the popular styles of the day, country and blues, morphed into a new sound aided by electric guitars and a steady drum beat.
As rock music became the dominant form of popular music, new bands built on their predecessors’ strengths while branching out into new sonic territory.
Led Zeppelin gave rock a darker, heavier tone, becoming one of the ‘70s’ most popular bands and helping to kick-start a new genre known as hard rock or heavy metal.
Around the same time, Pink Floyd added psychedelic elements and complex arrangements, creating concept albums tied together by a single theme and meant to be absorbed in a single sitting.
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By Tim Grierson Rock music has been a volatile, unpredictable creature that has constantly redefined and reinvented itself since its emergence in the late 1940s.
Not surprisingly, then, it can be extremely difficult to apply a straightforward definition to such a restless musical format.