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Different Types of popular music Essay Sample

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Different Types of popular music Essay Sample

Music is all around us. We all grew up listening to some type of music. No one can really determine when music began or which cultures had music first. There are stories of its origins that go back to ancient times. “Popular music is music produced for and sold to a broad audience.”(1) The types of popular music we are going to look at are jazz, country-and-western music, rhythm-and-blues music (R&B), rock music, and rap, also know as hip-hop.(1)

First, we will look at jazz. Jazz is a type of music that was first developed by African Americans around the first decade of the 20th century. (2) It is believed that jazz originated in New Orleans. The first ever recording of jazz was in the 1890’s. (3) Jazz developed into different styles. Some of these styles are, Boogie Woogie, which was named this because Clearance “Pine Top” Smith released an album with that style called Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie. Next is improvisational jazz, which is the most popular type of jazz. Improve means made up on the spot, which is actually, what this type of jazz is. Improvisational jazz can be played with any instrument. Another is ragtime. It was called this because its rhythm and timing sounded “raggedy”. Like improvisational jazz, this was one of the first types of jazz. It was played in cakewalks and was usually played with a piano. (3) “Some of the great musicians who made jazz more popular are, Art Tatum, Earl Hines, Joseph Lamb, James Scott, Scott Joplin, Hot Five and Louis Armstrong.”(3) Some of the jazz musicians of today are Kenny G and Rosemary Clooney. Jazz remains a rich and vital presence in the world of music today.

The next type is country and western music. Country and western music was primarily produced by white Southerners beginning in the early 1920s and came from the folk music of Southern Appalachia and is rooted in the folk songs of immigrants from Great Britain.(5) Some of the country music styles are Western swing, honky-tonk, bluegrass, rockabilly, and new country. “Although originally known by the derisive label “hillbilly music,” country has since moved into the popular music mainstream and gained wide international acceptance.”(4) Most country music is based on the lyrics rather than the musical content. Allot of country music is based on the lives and experiences of ordinary people. They include things such as love, breaking up with someone, maybe even the artist themselves telling a story in there music of their younger days growing up. Some of the instruments that are used in country music are the fiddle, the banjo, the guitar, and the piano.(5) Some country artists of past are The Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. Some of the country artists of today are Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Shania Twain, and Kenny Chesney. One place known to all country music artists and musicians is The Grand Ole Opry, which is in Nashville, Tennessee. (5)

Another type of music style is Rhythm-and-Blues Music or better know as R&B. Jerry Wexler is credited with the term R & B(1947).(7) This type of music laid the groundwork for rock & roll. “Early rock & roll is basically R&B blended with country & western and pop influences.”(6) “During the ’50s, R&B was dominated by vocalists like Ray Charles and Ruth Brown, as well as vocal groups like the Drifters and the Coasters.”(6) The term R & B was replaced in the 1960s by soul music and Motown, but has re-emerged in recent years. “In this context only the abbreviation R&B is used, not the full expression.”(6) Today there are some great R & B artists as well, like Barry White, All-4-One, India Arie, Erykah Badu and Alicia Keys. R&B remains a crucial part of rock, soul, and rap.

Rock music is next on the list of types of music. Rock music has dominated popular music in the West since about 1955. (8) Rock music started in the United States. “The term rock music commonly refers to music styles after 1959 predominantly influenced by white musicians.”(8) Disc jockey Alan Freed was the one who introduced this music and later gave it the name of Rock n’ Roll. The electric guitar is the instrument most associated with rock music. Another instrument is the electric bass guitar, which was introduced by Fender in 1951. (8) The drum set is used in rock music also. “Rock-and-roll guitarist Chuck Berry established a style of playing in the late 1950s that remains a great influence on rock music.”(8)

Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Carlos Santana are a few more rock musicians. One of my favorite rock groups is The Rolling Stones. “Closely connected with youth culture, rock music and musicians have helped to establish new fashions, forms of language, attitudes, and political views. However, rock music is no longer limited to an audience of teenagers, since many current listeners formed their musical tastes during the golden age of rock and roll. Similarly, while rock has historically encouraged new creative expressions, the innovations of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix have defined a tradition to which successive generations of musicians have repeatedly turned for inspiration.”(8)

A special day in the history of rock music was February 7, 1964; it was the day that a band called the Beatles that came from Liverpool, England to the United States. On February 11, 1964, the Beatles sang their first concert in the United States, at the Washington Coliseum. (12)

The Beatles, one of the most popular rock and roll sensations in history, created frenzy in the U.S., as they became a model for rock and roll. The Beatles dominated the record industries and with their dominant instrumentation, which included, electric leads, rhythm, and bass guitar, drums and sometimes an electric organ, changed the name of Rock n’ Roll to just Rock. Rock music and society have mirrored each other since the bad boy image of Elvis Presley, through fads like the dance craze, and through the rebellious years of the counterculture. Rock and roll has been a key player in bringing differing cultures together; most predominantly, it began to bring white and black people together. Although it has not completely dissolved racial intolerance, it has significantly blurred the lines separating us. “Music, especially rock and roll is an open forum for all people to shout out their individual and varied viewpoints. It is a showcase of life and a reflection of society.” (13)

The last type of music I would like to touch on is rap, which is also known as hip-hop. Rap is defined as spoken words with an underlying rhythm section consisting of bass, drums, and occasional keyboard sounds. The words are spoken rhythmically, and accents in this speaking are very important. Hip Hop is considered the “spouse” of rap; it is essentially the background music, which accompanies the rapper. Rap’s roots can be traced to the following influences: Cab Calloway is known for his signature “Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho” chant from “Minnie the Moocher”. Starting back in the 1940’s, Calloway used a call and response format with his audience, which is one of the foundations of rap. Other musicians who have utilized this technique, or have utilized a monologue-style in their music, include the following: Lou Rawls, Charlie Daniels, Bo Diddley and Peter, Paul, and Mary. The ‘Hip Hop’ subculture and rap music seemed to have originated in the United States in the Bronx.

The first rap record to make it big was “Rapper’s Delight” released by the Sugar Hill Gang on Syliva and Joey Robinson’s Sugar Hill label. Run-D.M.C. was the first black rap group to break through to a very white audience with their albums, Run-D.M.C and King of Rock. These albums led the way that rap would travel into the musical mainstream. Even though Run-D.M.C. dressed as if they came right off the street corner, this was not the case. Run and D.M.C came from middle class families, they were never deprived of anything and they never ran with a gang. One could never tell this by their dress or from the raps, they made. As rap music evolved and became popular, women tended to be the targets of male rap lyrics and generally were not portrayed in a favorable light. Rap music producers also seemed to be hesitant to produce female rap artists. (9)

David Thigpin in his article, “Not for Men Only; Women Rappers are Breaking the Mold with a Message of their Own”, offers two reasons for this reluctance. One being, rap producers were apprehensive about signing female rappers because they feared tampering with their proven formula of success of producing macho male rappers. The other being, rap producers did not feel that female voices could supply the requisite loudness and abrasiveness that they felt was a major feature of rap music. (10) A New York City female rap trio by the name of Salt ‘N’ Pepa would provide the rap music industry with the incentive to produce more female rappers with the success of its debut album, Hot, Cool, & Vicious, which sold over a million copies. Besides the fact that people like what they heard, Russell Simmons who was quoted in Thigpen’s article offers another explanation. Simmons stated, “There are more women buying rap records who would like to relate to women artists and there are more guys who want to hear a women’s point of view.”(10)

Salt ‘N’ Pepper rapped over soul-tinged R&B melodies with teasing, street-savvy raps about maturity, independence from men, and sexual responsibility. Another female rapper, Monie Love, tried not to be too serious with her rap messages. While Queen Latifah raps were about women being optimistic and having pride in them and tended to counter male rappers’ lyrics, which tended to express a poor opinion of women. However, some female rappers like BWP (Bytches with Problems) voice a vengeful brand of radical black feminism. BWP’s raps dealt with such issues as date rape, male egos, and police brutality.

BWP showed that they could be just as boastful as male rappers with their lyrics on the record ‘In We Want Money’ when they stated, “Marry you? Don’t make me laugh! Don’t you know, all I want is half!” Another female rapper who deserves mentioning because of her forceful attack on misogyny is Yo-Yo with her record ‘You Can’t Play with My Yo-Yo”. David Thigpen concluded his article on female rappers by stating that female rappers besides offering a different attitude have shown that rap could be far more significant and flexible than its critics have admitted. (10) This also illustrates, contrary to what David Samuels holds to be true, that rap music can endure the influence of groups other than its creators and still survive and flourish. (11)

Music today is constantly changing. Music is one of the most social art forms in that it creates communication between people in many different ways. It provides for non-threatening interaction. Music is the background of all our lives. Music has been around, in one form or another, since the beginning of time. Music can soothe, excite, calm, invigorate and help a person express feelings they otherwise might not be able to express. Music, hopefully, will be around for many more years to come.

Web Sources

1 “Popular Music,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004

http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

2 “Jazz,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004

http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

3 “A Passion For Jazz” © 1998 Author D C DowDell http://www.apassion4jazz.net/

http://www.apassion4jazz.net/jazz_styles.html

4 “Country Music,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004

http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

5 “Silver Burdett Making Music” http://www.sbgmusic.com/index.html

Article “Country Music and Musicians” from web site http://www.sbgmusic.com/html/teacher/reference/cultures/country.html

Copyright © Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

6 “Early Rhythm & Blues” by Richie Unterberger http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&uid=UIDCASS70402051244413131&sql=J113

Web Sources Continued:

7 R & B Music Primer “The R&B History File – 1” Copyright Peter Dean © 1998 – Date http://www.rhythmandtheblues.org.uk/pdhist.shtml

8 “Rock Music,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004

http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

12 “On-This-Day.com” Music History © Miconcepts 1999-2004

http://www.on-this-day.com/onthisday/thedays/febdays/dayfeb7.htm

13 “History of Rock Music” (TM, ®, Copyright © 2002 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.)

http://www.scaruffi.com/history/index.html

Magazine Articles/Newspaper Articles

9 Simpson, Janice C., “Time”: “Yo! Rap Gets on the Map; Led by groups like Public Enemy”, February 5, 1990.

10 Thigpen, David, “Time”: “Not for Men; Women Rappers are Breaking the Mold with a Message of their Own”, May 27, 1991.

Magazine Articles/Newspaper Articles Continued:

11 Samuels, David, “The New Republic”: “The Rap on Rap: the Black Music that Isn’t Either”, November 11, 1991.

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