The words bring the memory of electric guitars, a strong base and the famous genre of music that has lived and is still going strong since almost 6 decades. Rock is a very distinct genre – often involving a lead through chords of electric guitar, and a back beat provided by a heavy bass, keyboard and drums. There are several notes being churned out by all the players of the various instruments in different frequencies and they all combine together with the help of mixers, synthesizers and amplifiers to give the lyrics a wild, thumping edge.
Rock music was born in USA, as Rock n Roll, by combining traditional flavours of country music, western, gospel, rhythms and blues. Alan Freed, a DJ from Ohio first used the words “rock and roll” when he mixed rhythms and blues for a multi-racial audience. The age of Rock n Roll saw the rise of icons like Elvis Presley and The Penguins. The period between the late 1950s and early 60s were called the in-between years, or “The British Invasion”. Rock music had now caught on in Britain, with the rise of great artists like Cliff Richard. This period also saw the rise of girl bands and female singers. Twist was the popular dance form. Soul music became the new rage, being developed from rhythms, gospel music and blues.
The period between 1963 and 74 was called the Golden Age. It was in this period that the legends – The Beatles and The Rolling Stones arrived, and stunned the world with their contributions to rock music. Inspired by them, it became the ambition of almost every teenager in the west to become a rockstar. The trend of teenagers practising in the garages of their homes to form their own bands gave birth to a new form of rock – garage rock. Pop or soft rock arrived in the late 60s, as an alternative to the more rebellious, and stage-performance oriented traditional rock.
The 70s saw rock music going off into several new directions, depending on the personality of the players, and the place where the music would be played. For example, Blues rock was considered almost similar to rock music, and was played in clubs which combined the softness of the blues with the instrumentation and emphasis of rock. Folk rock and later country rock became popular due by combining traditional American folk music with newer acoustical standards provided by rock. Psychedelic rock was developed as an attempt to recreate the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The most famous artists of this period were Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple.
In the 70s, there became a distinction between soft and hard rock. Soft rock was more about the harmony and the melodies with beautiful lyrics, involving positive messages. Hard rock was more about the instruments and acoustics. Hard rock played with more volume and intensity was christened Heavy metal. Both genres displayed rebelliousness through its lyrics – they were morbid, anti-Christ, full of passionate anger towards various aspects of the world, and nihilist. Towards the 80s, hard rock branched off into punk rock and grunge. Perhaps the most famous band of all was Nirvana, with the legendary late Kurt Cobain as its lead singer.
The 90s gave way to nu metal and alternative metal. The new millennium saw further developments in various types of rock music, like death metal and electronic digital rock. All of them vary in the content of the lyrics, volume, mix of instruments and the way the song was sung – punk rock is more into fluctuations between extremely low and extremely high notes, death metal has a lot of gravelling by the lead singer, and alternative metal is a combination of high notes and rap. Electronic digital rock combines rock music and metal with digitally codified electronic amplification. These forms are prevalent even today, with bands like Linkin Park, Iron Maiden and Metallica still warming the hearts and souls of hundreds of millions of fans.
So that, in a nutshell, is the history of the religion that is rock. In spite of its huge history, rock music, through innovations in technology and tones, continues to thrive. It always finds a special place with teenagers and even youth in their 20s. Head banging, attending concerts, satanic attires – all are part of the flow. Rock music is best appreciated by the youth, because it supports and inspires the desire to change, or rebel – which is a feeling most of the people undergo when they are young. Confused by their feelings, they find comfort in rock. And this is the reason why this genre will continue to grow and evolve. Long live Rock Music!!!!