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Rock & Roll History


Dannyalcatraz

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Hey everyone!

 

I have been involved in a long and drawn out debate about the origins of Rock & Roll.

 

My chief opponent is of the opinion that ALL rock is blues based, whereas I contend that, even from the earliest days, jazz, C&W and other forms provided crucial ingredients into the formation of the rock genre.

 

I also asserted that certain subgenres are virtually blues-free, such as progressive (jazz fused with classical) and the music of euroshredders like Yngwie Malmsteen (virtually pure amplified classical).

 

Of course, since almost everything I had to back me up is some old magazines that are not available to my opponent, he believes not a word.

 

I have yet to get supertechnical, but I think its about time.

 

So, if anyone out there is aware of either scholarly online resources or online artist interviews that discuss this point, I would greatly appreciate it.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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Well, first off...allow me to say "WELCOME" to ya, and extend the invite to pull up a chair and hang for a bit.

 

The coolest thing about rock is perhaps that it defies scholarly debate. Well, perhaps not, but that takes some of the fun out of it. That said, I'd agree with you. Rock has drawn on all sorts of elements...of course, not the least of which was blues...but the early rock pioneers drew on all sorts of sources...including accepted popular standards of the day. I heard a "rock" version of a broadway tune the other day...not "rock" in the sense of present-day rock, but old late 50s-early 60s "Danny and the Juniors" type stuff. Heck, The Beatles included "Besame Mucho" and "The Sheik of Araby" in their early setlists. So, I'd say, yeah, everything was absorbed into rock music...some more than others...but, it's made for a diverse listening experience.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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For non-technical proof that the origins of rock 'n' roll don't start and end with the blues, look at rock's pioneers. Chuck Berry's first big hit was "Maybeline", which was orignally a country song named "Ida Red". According to Buddy Holly's early business cards, he started out playing "western bop", and later covered Chuck Berry's "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" and incorporated strings on some of his records. Elvis' career didn't start until he got "real gone for a change" and rocked up blues, country, and pop standards. In addition, many of the backing musicians, such as Scotty Moore and virtually any drummer in the Chess studio, had jazz training in their background.
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My take on rock and or roll is that the music is an amalgamation of all the different regional music that was happening at the time. From cool city jazz to western swing and most definitely the blues laid the foundation for the explosiveness and widespread popularity of rock and roll. When radio in the early days played only regional or in some cases race music, there were very few songs that were played across the states so many of the early originals were heard in a small part of the country. This allowed one form of music to dominate the entire region. Rock and Roll coincided with arrival of mass broadcasting via radio and television.
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the thing that bothers me the most about the history of anything is how people say something wouldnt be the same today had something not happened. I think EVERYTHING that happens effects the future. EVERYTHING. I think me posting this right now is going to affect the world someday when I become a rockstar. Now that that is out of the way I think that one of the reasons this is so tough is that even nowadays we have trouble creating a clear cut definition of rock and roll, or at least I do. But I do believe that music evolves off of itself, linking all types together.

 

Now if you will excuse me, I am goin to eat some french fries, I mean... freedom fries, I mean... um... skinny cooked piece of potatoes that are really bad for you.

The forumite formerly known as Cooper.

 

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

 

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will finally know peace." Jimi Hendrix

 

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens." Jimi Hendrix

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New Orleans is the key here.

 

Tracing backwards from Rocket 88/Rock Around the Clock, you can find similar songs back to the '30s (Louis Jordan, etc.). They differed from the current swing (but probably wouldn't have happened without swing, I agree) in their song form and instrumentation; the song form was from the European/British Isles troubadour/Childs' Ballads, but the instrumentation was stripped down and relied on bass and drums for rhythm, and not horns. Swing generally got their songs from the Great American Songbook writers (Gershwin, Berlin, etc.) who worked from European theater and art song forms, being influenced by jazz along the way.

 

The Blue Note...get ready...came from Spanish music. The Spanish imported it through New Orleans, where the stew of their music, African field hollers, and European art music produced ragtime (Scott Joplin, et. al.), which spawned jazz (Louis Armstrong, etc.). The Spanish got the Blue Note (you can hear it pretty much unadulterated in Flamenco music today) from...Arabia, through the Moorish conquests. You don't hear the Blue Note (or the backbeat, but that's another thread) from further south than sub-Saharan Africa.

 

So, Robert Johnson and the Delta Blues players definitely got song form, rhythm, and harmonic structure from the same place that Rock did a few decades later, but I wouldn't agree that Rock wouldn't have happened without Blues.

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Don't forget southern & black gospel music.

 

Many music historians point to the amalgamation of country & western, gospel and race music (IE. blues/R&B/Jump Swing, etc.) PERFORMED BY WHITE MUSICIANS (IE. Elvis) as the defining brew which created rock-n-roll.

 

R&R rapidly expanded beyond this narrow definition and now pretty much anything can be called R&R.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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Dannyalcatraz, WELCOME to the forum :wave:

 

I ran accross a very interesting, IMHO, site when starting to "research" R & R a coupla' years ago. It's called AMG (for All Music Guide, I think); and here is its link.

 

http://www.allmusic.com/

 

You used to be able to search by category (that's how I found it) and a very detailed and lonnnggg explanation of R & R and its various types (I think a coupla' dozen were listed). I'm sure that feature must still be there someplace, I just couldn't find it.

Gotta' geetar... got the amp. There must be SOMEthing else I... "need".
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Your question is a little confusing. I'm not sure whether you are debating the origins of Rock & Roll or whether all Rock music, even contemporary styles, exhibits a Blues element. I would agree with your friend that the origins of Rock & Roll had a very strong Blues components. But I would agree with you that some modern styles have very little if any Blues influence.

 

As far as early Rock & Roll it seems to me that if you decide first who the pioneers were it would be easier to see what it's precedents were. Many cite Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" as one of the first true hits of the Rock & Roll genre and this song has elements of Swing and Blues. Chuck Berry, another person usually named as a R&R pioneer, was a Blues singer as I understand it and his first hit "Johnny B. Goode" was recorded with a bit of tongue in cheek as a "novelty" song. He made a reference to Rythym & Blues in the lyrics to that song I think or perhaps it was "Roll Over Beethoven". Bo Diddley was a Blues singer who gave it a jungle beat and became a rock star. Buddy Holly had a lot of Country mixed with a little Blues and Elvis started out with covers of real Blues songs tinged with his Hillbilly vocal style.

 

I think that each of the early Rock & Roll stars had their own recipe of blending elements from Swing, Blues, Jazz and Hilbilly music and that's why they all have their own style.

 

The Beatles added other stuff into the mix with McCartney's eclectic tastes but the Beatles did come much later than the fist wave of Rock pioneers from the U.S. in the 1950's.

 

I think that one thing that is common to most of the Rock & Roll or later Rock music that I like is a strong Blues influence. The pentatonic riffs and I IV V chord progressions are direct descendents of the Blues and I think that the Blues can convey powerful emotional messages. This is because of the way we associate the unresolved tension of the dominant chord together with the tension of the minor tonality trying to resolve to major, as the Blue note does. These elements existed in classical music centuries earlier and were developed to a very high degree of sophistication but the Blues form presented them in a stripped down primal way that anyone can relate too, and there's nothing wrong with that IMO.

Mac Bowne

G-Clef Acoustics Ltd.

Osaka, Japan

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Thanks everyone! You've been most helpful.

 

To respond to the request for clarification, the initial debate centered around the origins of rock & roll...however, as the debate continued, one person asserted that all rock was ultimately blues based.

 

I politely disagreed, saying that that was a gross oversimplification.

 

Despite showing evidence (mostly via artist interviews and a couple of online articles) that classical music, jazz, C&W, swing, skiffle, boogie woogie, and other musical forms all influenced early 50's rock and roll artists, and even proto-rock performers as early as the 1930's, my opponent remained obstinately unconvinced of the importance of other genres.

 

Similarly, when I pointed out that certain subgenres of rock were virtually blues free (prog rock, various shredders), the essence of his reply was "Oh yes they are too blues based!" Without counterevidence beyond repeating citing the nebulous word "style," of course.

 

Despite having old articles & interviews at my personal disposal, most of my sources are not on the internet. He can easily say I'm just fabricating evidence.

 

He has even twisted my Venn diagram example into his own version that, while accurate, is meaningless within the context of the discussion.

 

And I, unfortunately, am the kind of guy who doesn't like to let bullheadedness triumph over fact, so I can't let go. At least, not yet.

 

What I'm looking for are either online sources or generally accepted scholarly texts to cite regarding either or both:

 

1) The complexity of the origins of rock;

 

2) The lack of influence blues has on certain rock forms

 

With regards to 2) above, I'd especially appreciate a general descriptive comparison between blues rock and prog or shred. I mean, I know Blues is generally in 4/4, has a 12 measure repeat and a certain kind of rhythym but I'm not adept enough to directly compare the others on the same basis. The fact that 1 King Crimson song had the various musicians playing in 3/4, 4/4 and 6/4 (or some such variant) simultaneously doesn't give me generalizations to work with. Ditto Malmsteen's classical arpeggios & progressions.

 

Hmm. How I do go on! Shutting up now to listen & learn more!

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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Regarding the AMG link I recommended above:

 

I went there again last night (I haven't been there for a coupla' .. few .. weeks). You now have to register (its free), BUT they seem to have a few bugs in their links. I kept going in circles trying to get to their discussion/definition of Rock & Roll.

 

I hope it might work out better for you. If not, just tell the guy that a hundred million Guitar Player forumites disagree with him :D

Gotta' geetar... got the amp. There must be SOMEthing else I... "need".
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I always wondered who had the original patent on the "house" or the "knife" or "computer". Fact is things just evolve with time and the expanding dimensions of our intelligence and the world around us.

Rock & Roll "happened as it was meant to happen given, in time, all things will blend together and somebody will press a faster button on the blender cause they've got a need to express themselves with wild jubilation!

 

How about this... Could Rock & Roll not have happened?

 

Does Rock & Roll "require" electrification?

 

Everybody made it and there was in no difinitive sense any creator or point at which it was born. Yet some would say it's dead.

 

Maybe it was Mozart! :D

I still think guitars are like shoes, but louder.

 

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While I love Alcatrazz, the name's derivation is merely coincidence.

 

I went into a chain restaraunt called California Pizza Kitchen. My server was Danny Alcatraz. When I asked about the unusual name he responded that the staff were wearing name tags that had their real first names and their home city as their last names. He admitted that, while Alcatraz wasn't really a city, it sounded way cooler than where he was actually from.

 

I asked him if I could use the name in a work of fiction I was writing, and he said yes.

 

As things stand, the story is, as yet, not completed, but given that the character in question was a techno-savvy type in a cyberpunk story, "Dannyalcatraz" made for a pretty nifty online ID.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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This article http://www.hoyhoy.com/dawn_of_rock.htm

does a great job of documenting the fact that rock n roll existed since the mid-40s and had a pretty minimal country-western influence in the early days.

 

Artists like Bill Hailey, Elvis, Chuck Berry and others brought the country influence into rock in the mid-fifties.

 

It is also worth noting that until the early sixties, country, esp. western swing and related styles, had plenty of influence from boogie, blues, and jazz.

 

I would say that nearly all rock had a strong African-American influence, not just blues but also R &B, gospel, soul etc., up until the late sixties.

 

After the late 1960s prog-rock, country rock and some types of metal used melodies and harmonies derived primarily from European classical and folk music with little influence from blues and other African-American genres. However the rhythms are usually still derived from African-American genres.

 

If the melodies to a song sound classical and the rhythms make you want to polka, stomp or march instead of shaking your hips then you could say the music has little African-American influence.

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Originally posted by Dannyalcatraz:

My chief opponent is of the opinion that ALL rock is blues based, whereas I contend that, even from the earliest days, jazz, C&W and other forms provided crucial ingredients into the formation of the rock genre.

I'm gonna go with your opponent. The reason is that Jazz came from (what we commonly call) the Blues, and C&W definitely went through a metamorphisis once the country cats got turned onto the Blues. This happened before the advent of Rock and Rol.

 

Of course, all this ignores the fact that when they were emerging, jazz and blues weren't separate forms. If you check out big bands from the 30s and 40s, alot of them are playing "blues" tunes that sound nothing like you'd think. The Blues then, like punk now, was more a state of mind more than a set of musical themes. Both forms grew out of spirtuals, so take all this how you will. Generally however, critics, musicians, and the enlightened fans agree that Jazz came from the Blues.

 

Hope this helps.

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Oh trust me, this is all helpful!

 

DC Jim, I understand your assertion about jazz & blues- I have a lot of that stuff in my collection- but there comes a point when you have to stop considering two genres the same thing because they have diverged enough to become distinct. After all, if we keep tracing back, we would have to say that all rock music is based on, say, a particular form of Ghanese music. So, once the genres are distinguishable, it is not useful to say that all rock is blues based just because jazz and blues evolved from the same root.

 

While its true that jazz & blues were closely related up until the late 30's, jazz's complexity (different time sigs, alternate tunings, etc.) and trend towards long, improvisational solos truly made it distinct from the very structured forms of the blues. This is why its easy to distinguish between jazz based rock and blues based rock.

 

At this point, I feel I must in fairness supply the link to the discussion. That way, posters here are not influenced by my characterization of the argument. In the heat of the argument, I may have mischaracterized my opponent's position. (http://talkback.africana.com/webx?14@80.5xPua5zTjXD.0@.3b9b8649/0)

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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Welcome abord DA. As I understand it, rock music came out of rock 'n roll, which was a wonderful minestrone of blues, country music, ragtime, gospel, spirituals, field hollers, folk songs, and the pop music of the day. I find it amusing to rememeber the The Beatles, in their early days, were doing stuff like Meredith Willson's "Till There Was You" (from the Broadway musical "The Music Man") and "Besame Mucho", a latin samba/rhumba tune. Both are about as far from the blues as you can get, yet the Beatles considered themselves a "hot little R&B combo" in the words of Sir Paul.

A lot of early rock 'n roll was blues based, as was Country & Western. But the most attractive thing about rock is the ease with which it can incorporate and amalgamate new styles and sounds into it's fabric. Santana incorporated latin beats and instrumentation with R&B to come up with salsa music. AL Kooper added a jazz horn section and Blood Sweat & Tears, the first jazz-rock fusion band was born. Jeff Lynne put a string section and came up with CRAP(sorry, I never liked ELO's stuff much. :D ), but it was different. Richie Blackmore started using dominant minor scales, and the Neo-classical shred thing came about, and blues-based guitar playing was virtually ignored and made fun of for a few years. Hey, if you ask Yngwie Malmsteen what his blues roots are, he'll get mad (but then, he gets mad when you ask him about a lot of stuff :rolleyes: ). I believe it is the ease with which rock can accomodate new ideas and sounds that has kept it alive. What I think your friend is missing is that rock owes a debt to a lot of different musical styles, not merely the blues. If you ask a hard core blues afficianado about rock, he'll turn up his nose because it isn't pure. But more importantly, rock's past and even it's present are not as interesting as it's future. It's the possibilities, where it could go, what an adventurous, innovative musician dissatisfied with the status quo can do with it, that makes it so exciting.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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" Rock Around the Clock" was first recorded by Big Joe Turner from Kansas City. It was later

recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets. Would guess that Big Joe Turner would be a Kansas City Blues musician.

 

Regards,

 

T. J. Steenland

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