How Did Rock Music Come About?Posted by Mike Schuck
All great music starts with an inspiration, or source of influence. For most musicians, their earliest musical inspirations come from things they experience and sense in their lives. They may listen to songs that make them feel good, or ones that teach them something new.
For some artists, it is the melodies they hear that inspire them to create own tunes. Others get inspired by lyrics or vocals, while others use all three together to build their sound.
Some musicians start playing music at a young age, learning how to play simple instruments like the guitar or piano. More experienced artists learn more advanced skills, such as how to write their own songs or lead vocal parts.
Many people know what kind of music they like and who some of their favorite artist are, but few can tell you exactly how each piece fits into the bigger picture of music.
The invention of the phonograph
In 1877, Edward Johnson built the first mass-produced device that you use to listen to music today – the phonograph. His design included an arm with a needle that could be pressed into or pulled out of a groove in a plastic disc called a vinyl record.
He also designed the mechanism that would make the stylus move back and forth across the surface of the record. This is how the sound wave is sent down the needle’s vertical thread, which then vibrates the air molecules around it, creating sound.
Johnson didn’t patent his invention so others quickly took ideas from it and made their own variations. But it wasn’t until Thomas Edison improved upon the phonograph in 1897 that it became more popular than it had been before.
Edison modified the way the records are held by adding a spindle that can turn easily and a motor to rotate this spindle. He was able to add another component to send messages via electricity as well.
These components allowed for longer recordings and easier manipulation of what parts of the song were heard. Technically, he also invented the microphone attached to the phonocorder (the part that makes noise while recording).
Since then, many other people have tinkered with the phonograph to create new designs but none have become widely used like Edison’s original version.
The rise of the nightclubs
In the early to mid-20th century, music was mostly consumed in one of two ways. Either you had an earbud device or headphone that you wore to listen to your music, or you played it using a portable player such as an MP3 player. Both of these methods require access to electricity which most people didn’t have back then unless they were rich!
If you happened to be wealthy, then you would probably own a radio set once technology advanced enough for this to happen. These took up space and needed to be plugged into a power source, making them not very mobile.
However, there was another way to enjoy music without having access to electricity. This is where someone organized a get together to play their music outside. They would gather somewhere like a park, party beach, field, etc and invite other people to come join in on the fun. If anyone wanted to stop listening, they could just walk away until next time.
This is how dancing became popular! People loved the rhythm and danceability of the songs so others began copying what the musicians were doing by moving around while playing the song.
The development of radio
It was in America that music really took off as a form. Before then, people would gather around to listen to songs they knew or sang along to while listening to other songs.
But it wasn’t until 1920 when something happened. An entrepreneur named Ralph Elwood Woolridge invented an apparatus he called a “radio.”
He built his device out of glass, iron, and wood and attached it to a speaker using copper wire. When you turned this device on, it began transmitting signals through air at high volume!
This technology allowed for individuals to create their own radio stations by buying a transmitter and antenna and having someone else do the work of producing and broadcasting the song or music piece.
Radio is a popular medium today. There are over 2,500 different radio station brands across hundreds of genres throughout the world. Many famous musicians started with little more than a voice before developing their style via radio exposure.
The rise of record companies
As we know, music has been around for quite some time- it’s probably the world’s most popular form of self expression. Artists have always put their songs down in writing or performed them live to get other people’s reactions.
In its early stages, musicians didn’t need huge corporations backing them. They would tour and promote themselves or be known by someone who knew they were good!
However, as technology advanced and markets expanded, artists needed to have more than just their own reputation to survive.
They needed money to keep going. And since there was no one telling everyone about how great you are, you needed a way to market yourself.
That’s where big business comes in – shepherding your career and investing in you.
Record companies offer all sorts of things to aspiring musical stars: recording equipment, marketing strategies, and even financial aid if they feel you're worthy enough to back.
The invention of the microphone
Before there were microphones, people used to hand-hold their voice while they spoke or use instruments like brass horns or wood flutes to produce music. It was not until around 1550 that someone figured out how to capture and amplify your voice using an instrument called a larynx or reed device.
This allowed musicians to perform with larger groups due to the availability of sound equipment. Technology also improved as engineers experimented with different materials and shapes to better channel your voice and enhance what you are trying to say.
The development of amplification
Before there were instruments, people sang songs using their voice alone. This is how most music has been made for centuries!
With human voices being one of the main components in creating music, they needed to be heard properly.
People would stand around a song singer and try to amplify his or her voice as much as possible.
By doing this, others could more easily hear what was being said. These individuals who did this are known as vocalists, because they helped increase the volume of the speaker’s voice.
We now know these people as radio DJs or broadcast singers.
At that time, however, they didn’t have any names. They just wanted to make sure everyone could listen to the lyrics of the songs! (More about music terms later.)
Amplifiers come in many different shapes and sizes. Some can be used for both listening to music and television, while others only work for one or the other.
The best type of amplifier for someone is not necessarily the same person to next person. Each individual needs to find out if an amplifier works for them before investing in one.
There are some types of amplifiers that need to be connected to a power source to work. Make sure you know what kind of connection your amp has before buying it so it will work for you.
The birth of the rock star
In his book, What is the Beat? Hip Hop Beats Explained, author Mark Christopher Smith defines the term “rock star” as follows: "Rock stars are people who are very famous and have large followings. They usually make their name through music that touches many different nerves and emotions."
In his chapter titled "The Birth of the Punk Rock Star", he goes on to describe how this concept was first applied to musicians like Jim Morrison (the frontman for the band The Doors) and David Bowie.
He notes that both men were highly influential artists whose songs touched upon themes such as politics, love, death, and other difficult issues. This made them popular not just with listeners who enjoyed their music, but also among an audience that wanted to take part in or learn more about these ideas.
These audiences would gather together in places where the two individuals would play their songs so they could soak it all in together. This eventually led to venues holding concerts featuring only one artist, or even groups of artists performing as a collective.
Popular culture shapes everything around it
We are constantly shaping our world through popular media, including music. What types of songs people like, what artists they admire, how they interpret music, and even what genres they identify with are all influenced by the media that surrounds them.
Music has always been a powerful medium. It is one of the oldest forms of art we have, going back thousands of years. In fact, some believe that music was the first form of communication ever invented.
Since then, musicians have used their craft to express themselves, share ideas, influence others, and create emotions in listeners.
There were no YouTube or Spotify at the time many consider the term “rock” to be applied. Some say The Beatles defined rock as early as 1965! But there was one genre that emerged over the past 50 years that seems to consistently earn its status as king of the hill – hard rock.
Just look up any list of the best-selling albums or hottest singing styles and you’ll see why this type of music remains so popular. Authors recognize strong voices for entertainment value and thus encourage more production and distribution of such stories.
Writers use sound and rhythm to tell stories, which makes music an essential tool when creating novels. Artists make lots of money off of marketing and advertising using sound and rhythm, so writers get paid well too for incorporating into fiction.
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.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don't hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.