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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Vocal Music - Rock (n Roll)

Our penultimate stop on this alphabetical train ride of vocal music has reached rock music.

Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It has its roots in various musical styles, including rhythm and blues, country music, and gospel. Rock music is characterised by the prominent use of electric guitars, bass, drums, and often vocals.

Over the years, rock music has evolved and diversified into numerous sub-genres, each with its own unique sound and characteristics. Some of the most popular sub-genres of rock music include:

Classic Rock:

Classic rock refers to the influential rock music of the 1960s and 1970s. It laid the foundation for the genre's popularity and includes iconic bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and The Who. Classic rock features melodic tunes, memorable guitar solos, and often explores themes of love, freedom, and social commentary. The era of classic rock is considered a golden age for rock music, and many of these bands remain immensely popular to this day.

Hard Rock:

Hard rock emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a more aggressive and louder form of rock music. Bands like AC/DC, Deep Purple, and Aerosmith became synonymous with this genre. Hard rock is characterised by powerful guitar riffs, strong vocals, and energetic performances. It has a rebellious spirit and often delves into themes of partying, sex, and living life to the fullest.

Heavy Metal:

Heavy metal took hard rock to even greater extremes, pushing the boundaries of loudness and intensity. Black Sabbath is often credited with being one of the pioneers of heavy metal. Bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest are known for their fast-paced, intricate guitar work, thundering drums, and soaring vocals. Heavy metal often explores dark and fantastical themes, making it a distinctive and influential sub-genre.

Alternative Rock:

In the 1980s and 1990s, alternative rock emerged as a response to the mainstream rock of the time. It is characterised by a DIY attitude, independent music labels, and a more underground, non-commercial sound. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins gained popularity during the grunge movement, while others like Radiohead and The Pixies contributed to the alternative rock scene.

Punk Rock:

Punk rock emerged in the mid-1970s as a raw, rebellious reaction to the polished sound of mainstream rock. The Ramones are often regarded as the first punk rock band, followed by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and many others. Punk rock is known for its short, fast-paced songs, simple chord structures, and socially and politically charged lyrics. It encourages a DIY ethos and a sense of individuality.


Grunge is a sub-genre of alternative rock that gained popularity in the early 1990s, particularly from the Seattle music scene. Bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains defined the grunge sound, which often features a mix of heavy guitar riffs and introspective lyrics. Grunge music embodied a sense of disillusionment and a reaction to the excesses of the 1980s.

Indie Rock:

Indie rock, short for independent rock, is characterised by its DIY approach and rejection of mainstream music industry norms. Bands and artists in this genre often release music through independent labels, promoting a sense of artistic freedom and authenticity. Indie rock covers a wide range of styles and can include lo-fi garage bands, folk-infused acts, and experimental artists.

Progressive Rock:

Progressive rock, also known as prog rock, emerged in the late 1960s and reached its peak in the 1970s. Bands like Pink Floyd, Rush, and Yes are synonymous with this genre. Progressive rock features complex compositions, virtuosic musicianship, and often incorporates elements of classical and jazz music. It can include elaborate concept albums and thematic storytelling.

It's important to note that rock music continues to evolve and diversify, giving rise to new sub-genres and fusions with other styles of music. From the early days of rock and roll to the present, rock music has left an indelible mark on the world of music and culture, inspiring countless musicians and fans across the globe.

Rock n Roll

Let’s not forget the precursor to all the above - Rock n Roll!

Rock 'n' roll, originated in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is a fusion of various musical styles, including rhythm and blues, country, gospel, and jazz, and is characterised by its energetic and upbeat sound. The term "rock 'n' roll" is often credited to the DJ Alan Freed, who popularised the phrase in the early 1950s. He used it to describe the new and exciting style of music that was gaining popularity among young audiences at the time.

Key features of rock 'n' roll music include:

  • Rhythmic Beat: Rock 'n' roll is known for its strong, driving rhythm, usually provided by a combination of electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and sometimes piano. This rhythm gives the music its characteristic "rocking" feel.

  • Electric Guitars: Electric guitars play a prominent role in rock 'n' roll music, providing the signature sound of the genre. Guitar solos and catchy riffs are often a central part of rock 'n' roll songs.

  • Vocals: Vocals in rock 'n' roll can range from soulful and expressive to energetic and passionate. Many early rock 'n' roll artists had distinct vocal styles that helped define the genre.

  • Youth Culture: Rock 'n' roll was embraced by young audiences, and its lyrics often reflected the experiences and emotions of teenagers and young adults. It became a symbol of youth rebellion and freedom.

  • Danceability: Rock 'n' roll music is highly danceable, with its infectious rhythms and energetic melodies encouraging people to get up and dance.

  • Influence on Culture: Rock 'n' roll had a profound impact on popular culture, influencing fashion, language, and attitudes. It played a significant role in breaking down racial barriers in music and contributing to the rise of youth culture.

Early pioneers of rock 'n' roll include artists such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis. These artists played a crucial role in shaping the genre and bringing it into the mainstream.

Rock 'n' roll continued to evolve and diversify over the decades, giving rise to various sub-genres, listed above.

While newer genres have emerged, rock 'n' roll remains an essential part of music history and continues to have a lasting influence on popular music around the world.

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