How Did Hard Rock Music Start?Posted by Mike Schumacher
The very first hard rock songs were not about heartbreak, they were about celebration! When people talk about early heavy metal music, what they mean are those bands that use lots of loud guitars with powerful vocals. These types of songs typically have large choruses or an extended chorus (a lot of repetition) along with catchy melodies and lyrics that stick in your mind.
Hard rock as we know it today is a much more eclectic genre, there are infinite variations. Some may refer to this article as “The Origins of Heavy Metal” but really these songs fall under the larger category of hard rock.
Music styles often start out as pure experiments before being categorized, just like how jazz musicians experiment with different chords and time signatures before settling on something they love. For some artists, their experimental stage lasts years until they find a style that works for them.
For others, the style comes naturally and quickly, and they never look back! This includes heavy metal artists, many of whom write their own material and never sound like anyone else. We can call such artists professional writers of hard rock music!
There are three main components to hard rock music: rhythm, melody, and lyrics. All three of these elements come together to create an effect that is beyond describing. You must experience it yourself to understand.
This article will go into detail on one of the earliest examples of all three of these important parts of hard rock music.
The birth of the music industry
Before there was a music business, there were musicians. Artists have always inspired each other to create songs and stories that people wanted to hear. It seems like every generation has had their own style, which they learned from others.
In ancient Greece, poets would gather in front of large crowds to inspire them with catchy lyrics and melodies. In Rome, artists painted pictures using rhythm and rhyme to describe life experiences – this is how we get rhymes like “bombs bursting in the gut” or “you can’t please everyone so you got to make up your mind.”
Hard rock music comes from British blues bands in the 1960s. These groups mixed heavy bass lines, guitar riffs, and strong vocals together into one genre. This type of music is characterized by powerful drums, fast tempos, and emphasis on lyrical content.
Popular culture shapes art
The process of creating art is not unique to any one time or place. Artists have always painted, sculpted, designed things from naturalistic representations to abstract designs. Some even go as far as defining what being artistic is!
Many consider it vital for artists to be exposed to different styles and genres of painting, sculpture, and design so that they can combine elements of them into their own work.
Hard rock music is a rich blend of sound, style, and genre. It comes together through collaborations between musicians, songwriters, and producers along with instrumentalists, singers, and vocalists.
Each member brings something unique to the table while sharing in the success of the songs they contribute.
Music has played an important part in all cultures since ancient times. It is a universal language that resonates within everyone. When people listen to hard rock music, they are typically influenced by the lyrics, the sounds, and the overall feel.
That feeling is often due to the influence of other types of music such as jazz or funk, but also the use of instruments and/or vocals that resonate with how hard you’re listening.
Since its inception, hard rock music has incorporated many styles and concepts including folk, psychedelic, heavy metal, glam, reggae, and more. All of these ingredients mix together to form the hard rock palette that we know and love today.
The development of recording technologies
Recording technology has changed quite a bit over the past century! Early recordings were very expensive to make, as people needed special equipment or technical knowledge to create them. But now that technology is in every major hand (pun intended) of music making, anyone can record songs and produce quality content.
Making an initial recording cost money, but today you can pick up cheap software such as Pro Tools or Ableton Live for under $100. These softwares are powerful enough to complete most of the work like producing, editing, and mixing your song. Most people have access to this type of software now.
Hard rock musicians use these programs to produce their own material and improve their craft by listening to others’ tracks and learning how they did things. This is another reason why it is easy to start creating your own hard rock songs – you have someone else’s final product to look at and learn from.
The rise of the record industry
Before we get into how hard rock music was born, let’s talk about the history of the recording industry. You may have heard stories about how musicians made their money back in the days when people actually listened to recorded songs instead of using headphones or earbuds.
In these times, artists would hire singers who could also sing well and play instruments. These professionals would be paid per song they contributed to an album, so it is important to know what equipment those artists used to make others contribute to their projects.
The next level of professional musicians were ones that played other instruments. They too are hired per job, and are compensated for the gear they use to fulfill their position. Some of the most famous instrumentalists in history received credit for helping launch their careers by giving them a paycheck for using one of their many instruments!
Now that we have covered some basics about how the recording industry works, let us discuss how hard rock music was birthed. We will look at two main factors: genres and bands.
Radio became popular
Before radio, people gathered in open spaces or buildings to listen to music. This is how most of us experience music today – listening to an album or song foren-withing a space or environment.
But this wasn’t always the case!
Hard rock music isn’t very common before 1920. Up until then, musicians performed in church settings, or at festivals and gatherings with other musical groups.
They would play songs they made up themselves, or ones that were well known. It was almost like having your own private show — you get to pick the lyrics and the songs, and everyone else is listening!
Radio changed all of that.
Music companies found it easy to broadcast songs due to technology being developed along those lines. And since there are now radio stations everywhere, it made sense to use their resources to promote new artists and bands.
Some even created their own radio station so that people could only hear what they wanted to!
Since hard rock didn’t exist back then, many famous singers and instrumentalists had to reinvent ways to do things. Now though, we know them as part of our culture and vocabulary.
What are some examples? Let’s take a look!
A lot of musicians learned how to play the guitar first, because it’s such a simple instrument.
Rock ‘n’ roll was born
In the early years of recorded music, musicians did not have access to very many instruments. Most people were still making do with acoustic guitars, pianos, and drums. Some would even learn how to play bass guitar by ear!
In fact, most artists didn’t use any equipment at all- they sang into a microphone using their own voice as an instrument. It is this lack of special equipment that makes it easy to connect hard rock music to its roots.
Hard rock doesn’t need heavy percussion or flashy brass because there isn’t anything else for it to hang off of. Acoustic guitars are always present, helping create a solid base for the songs.
The genre itself originated in America during the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1960s when it really took shape. That’s when musicians started adding more instrumental touches to their songs, giving rise to what we now know as hard rock.
Record companies emerged
As we know, music has always been in business. Artists have consistently recorded songs for money to distribute or play for an audience. However, it was not until the 20th century that record companies fully organized themselves into something we recognize today as the industry.
Hard rock is our genre of choice for this article, so let’s look at some examples!
In 1908, Edward Johnson made his first recording for Thomas Edison. His song? “Happy Birthday To You.” Over 1 million copies were sold before he even met Mariah Carey.
A few years later, Columbia Records released their first commercial recording; the jazz standard, “The Happy Jazzland Dance.” The track became very popular and still receives radio airplay almost 100 years later.
By 1914, Victor Company had expanded its reach beyond just selling recordings by other artists. They produced their own material with what would become known as the Vocal Group Method.
VGM musicians worked together to create lyrics and melodies then recorded these separately. When they came together to perform as a group, their combined vocals took the place of each musician’s individual part.
This method allowed for more creativity and expression than if each person needed to stand out individually. It also helped solidify the hard-rock band concept we know and love today.
Marketing campaigns were created
Before there was an easy way to get your music in people’s ears, hard rock bands had to do things like play local venues and rely on word of mouth to spread their songs. It is said that guitarist Jimi Hendrix made his first money by selling candles while he was still in high school!
He would cut out pictures of guitars and cover them with wax so that people could buy it for him as a gift. Once he got enough money, he would start buying real guitar strings!
We can learn several lessons from these musicians’ business strategies. First, don’t be afraid to try new things to market your products. What worked years ago may not work today, but you should at least look into what those things are before giving up.
Second, create product lines that people will want to purchase or use regularly.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
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