Rock music is one of the most popular music genres in the world. Rock and roll has been around since the 1950s, and has since developed into several different genres of music from surf rock to death metal, and has inspired pop music in general. Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the mid-1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music.
Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. For instrumentation, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.
By the late 1960s “classic rock” period, a number of distinct rock music subgenres had emerged, including hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, southern rock, raga rock, and jazz rock, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which was influenced by the countercultural psychedelic and hippie scene. New genres that emerged included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements, glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style, and the diverse and enduring subgenre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume, power, and speed.
In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock reacted by producing stripped-down, energetic social and political critiques. Punk was an influence in the 1980s on new wave, post-punk and eventually alternative rock. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. Further fusion subgenres have since emerged, including pop punk, electronic rock, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock’s history, including the garage rock/post-punk and techno-pop revivals in the early 2000s. The late 2000s and 2010s saw a slow decline in rock music’s mainstream popularity and cultural relevancy, with hip hop surpassing it as the most popular genre in the United States.
Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major subcultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the goth, punk, and emo subcultures. Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.
The sound of rock is traditionally centered on the amplified electric guitar, which emerged in its modern form in the 1950s with the popularity of rock and roll. Also, it was influenced by the sounds of electric blues guitarists. The sound of an electric guitar in rock music is typically supported by an electric bass guitar, which pioneered in jazz music in the same era, and percussion produced from a drum kit that combines drums and cymbals.
This trio of instruments has often been complemented by the inclusion of other instruments, particularly keyboards such as the piano, the Hammond organ, and the synthesizer. The basic rock instrumentation was derived from the basic blues band instrumentation (prominent lead guitar, second chordal instrument, bass, and drums). A group of musicians performing rock music is termed as a rock band or a rock group. Furthermore, it typically consists of between three (the power trio) and five members. Classically, a rock band takes the form of a quartet whose members cover one or more roles, including vocalist, lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bass guitarist, drummer, and often keyboard player or other instrumentalist.
Rock music is traditionally built on a foundation of simple unsyncopated rhythms in a 4/4 meter, with a repetitive snare drum back beat on beats two and four. Melodies often originate from older musical modes such as the Dorian and Mixolydian, as well as major and minor modes. Harmonies range from the common triad to parallel perfect fourths and fifths and dissonant harmonic progressions. Since the late 1950s, and particularly from the mid-1960s onwards, rock music often used the verse-chorus structure derived from blues and folk music, but there has been considerable variation from this model. Critics have stressed the eclecticism and stylistic diversity of rock. Because of its complex history and its tendency to borrow from other musical and cultural forms, it has been argued that “it is impossible to bind rock music to a rigidly delineated musical definition.”
Unlike many earlier styles of popular music, rock lyrics have dealt with a wide range of themes, including romantic love, sex, rebellion against “The Establishment”, social concerns, and life styles. These themes were inherited from a variety of sources such as the Tin Pan Alley pop tradition, folk music, and rhythm and blues. Music journalist Robert Christgau characterizes rock lyrics as a “cool medium” with simple diction and repeated refrains, and asserts that rock’s primary “function” “pertains to music, or, more generally, noise.” The predominance of white, male, and often middle class musicians in rock music has often been noted, and rock has been seen as an appropriation of black musical forms for a young, white and largely male audience. As a result, it has also been seen to articulate the concerns of this group in both style and lyrics. Christgau, writing in 1972, said in spite of some exceptions, “rock and roll usually implies an identification of male sexuality and aggression”.
Since the term “rock” started being used in preference to “rock and roll” from the late-1960s, it has usually been contrasted with pop music, with which it has shared many characteristics, but from which it is often distanced by an emphasis on musicianship, live performance, and a focus on serious and progressive themes as part of an ideology of authenticity that is frequently combined with an awareness of the genre’s history and development. According to Simon Frith, rock was “something more than pop, something more than rock and roll” and “ock musicians combined an emphasis on skill and technique with the romantic concept of art as artistic expression, original and sincere”.
In the new millennium, the term rock has occasionally been used as a blanket term including forms like pop music, reggae music, soul music, and even hip hop, which it has been influenced with but often contrasted through much of its history. Christgau has used the term broadly to refer to popular and semipopular music that cater to his sensibility as “a rock-and-roller”, including a fondness for a good beat, a meaningful lyric with some wit, and the theme of youth, which holds an “eternal attraction” so objective “that all youth music partakes of sociology and the field report.” Writing in Christgau’s Record Guide: The ’80s (1990), he said this sensibility is evident in the music of folk singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked, rapper LL Cool J, and synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys—”all kids working out their identities”—as much as it is in the music of Chuck Berry, the Ramones, and the Replacements.
Theme Travel Destinations
A considerable number of world-famous rock bands and artists are from the UK, and many of them from London or the London region (or spent part of their career there). As such there are all kinds of rock-related places to see here, such as the house where the Beatles held their rooftop concert in 1969, or the Cart and Horses pub in Stratford regarded as the birthplace of Iron Maiden.
Liverpool has a rich musical heritage. In particular, the heritage associated with The Beatles, for whom Liverpool was their hometown. Fans can visit the Beatles Story, the Beatles Museum, the Cavern club, take the Magical Mystery Tour to Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. The National Trust has John Lennon and Paul McCartneys childhood homes open to the public, and you can stay in Hard Days Night hotel. The only permanent exhibition to British popular music moved to Liverpool in 2015, called The British Music Experience. There is also the Royal Philharmonic Hall.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. 751 Erieside Ave, Cleveland/Downtown (Drive north on East 9th St exit until you reach the Hall of Fame.
If you drive into Lake Erie, you’ve gone too far.), ☏ +1 216 781-ROCK (7625). Located at North Coast Harbor, this distinctive building was designed by noted architect I.M. Pei and houses a massive collection of rock and roll memorabilia. Cleveland was home to the first Rock concert, the term “Rock and Roll” was coined by a Cleveland DJ and many of the music genre’s icons used Cleveland as their springboards. As Rock Inductee, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, has been paraphrased – to become a rock star in the U.S., first, you have to be loved in Cleveland.
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. 191 Beale St (corner of Third St; on the plaza of FedExForum). Daily 10AM-7PM (last admission 6:15PM).
A short video is shown at frequent intervals and then you are given a headset so that you can listen to commentary and numerous songs as you walk through the exhibits. Sponsored by the Smithsonian. The museum used to be housed in the Gibson guitar factory across the street, which puts visitors right on the factory floor. Famous musicians periodically visit to pick up custom guitars or to play a set at the Gibson Lounge, in the west end of the building.
Graceland. Memphis. Home of Elvis Presley, “The King of Rock and Roll”.
It’s no surprise that this is the number one tourist attraction in Memphis. Think “tacky tourist” trap but don’t miss it – you might be pleasantly surprised. Although it is not advisable to venture in the suburbs surrounding the site, there is lots and lots of Elvis stuff to see here – the house itself (the upper floor, with Elvis’ bedroom and Lisa Marie’s nursery, is not open to the public), customized private airplanes, an automobile collection, gold records, costumes, and more.
Elvis Week (“Death Week” to the locals) in early August, culminating in the candlelight vigil on the anniversary of Elvis’ death. is a big deal, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. Check out the bizarre felt-pen scribblings on the fence, some hip-ironic, some of the psycho-lunatic-fan sort. If you happen to be in Memphis during Birth or Death Week – January and August, respectively – sit downtown for a few hours just to watch the Elvis fans. Not just on Halloween, but at any time of year, dress up like the King (or like Priscilla if you’re a girl) and you’ll instantly be a star in your own right
Buddy Holly Crash Site (The Day the Music Died) (near Clear Lake (Iowa)).
In the early morning of February 3, 1959 a plane carrying rock musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson who were touring the Midwest together, crashed just after takeoff, killing them and the pilot. The accident taking the life of three popular rock musicians has been dubbed “The Day the Music Died” and has been referred to as such in popular culture. There are several memorials at the crash site.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (Sullivan County (New York), Hurd Road a half-mile N of NY 17B in the town of Bethel, E of the hamlet of White Lake)
In 1969, a big music festival in upstate New York—Woodstock—turned into a generation-defining event. In the mid-2000s local entrepreneur Alan Gerry realized a long-held Sullivan County dream of capitalizing on the Woodstock festival site’s potential as a tourist draw. The original site, at the southeast corner of the intersection of Hurd and West Shore roads, has been left undisturbed and accessible. On the hill nearby is a modern amphitheatre that has hosted performances by everyone from acts that appeared at the original festival to symphony orchestras. The nearby museum is also a must-see for anyone wanting to better appreciate the cultural significance of the surrounding acres of what was once Yasgur’s Farm.
Swedish Music Hall of Fame, Djurgårdsvägen 68 (Stockholm/Djurgården).
A museum of Swedish popular music opened in 2013, featuring ABBA the Museum as a main exhibition.
Metallica House, 3132 Carlson Blvd (El Cerrito, 4 blocks west of the Plaza BART station.).
This non-descript house housed the members of heavy metal band Metallica from 1983-1986. In the house and garage they wrote and rehearsed the songs for ‘Ride the Lightning’ and ‘Master of Puppets.’
Rock music Lifestyle
Classic American (and to some extent European) cars and motorcycles are part of the rock’n’roll lifestyle. While the periodization is not exact, production of private vehicles took off in the years following World War II, with cheap fuel and expansion of suburbs and motorways. Cars became faster and heavier until the 1973 oil crisis and environmentalist concerns, which encouraged more compact models.
Eat and drink
Traditional Rock and Roll is highly associated with 1950s American cuisine, and especially burgers, fries, and shakes. Many traditional diners will play classic rock songs on their jukeboxes or via speakers. Later rock sub-genres are more heavily associated with pubs, dives, and bars.
Hard Rock Cafe is a global chain of restaurants in 74 countries as of 2018. Each restaurant is like a mini-museum of rock and roll, its walls covered with guitars, records, costumes, and other memorabilia—much of it donated and signed by the original artists. TVs throughout play music videos. Most of the locations also have a stage for live bands (or occasional sing-a-longs). Hard Rock International also operates a handful of Hard Rock Hotels.
Blueberry Hill, 6504 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, A true landmark restaurant and bar, open till 3AM. Chuck Berry used to play here frequently. Absolutely filled with pop-culture memorabilia spanning decades, including lunchboxes, concert posters, toys, sports trading cards, and other Americana. This place is definitely not one to miss.