The Art of Rock and Roll by Charles Brown The book "The Art of Rock and Roll" by Charles T. Brown basically proposes methods for analyzing music and anyone who reads the books should be able to develop techniques for listening to music and making legitimate statements about it. It treats rock and roll as a serious art form and traces it cultural roots throughout the book. Chapter one discusses the elements of rock and makes four assumptions. Assumption one states that rock is a legitimate art form. An art form is defined as a creative act that springs from the artist's experience as it reflects or reacts against society.
It then states that acculturation, a process by which a certain people are influenced by a foreign culture, changed the Afro-Americans from their original culture to one that was a mixture of U. S. influences and African roots which played a large part in the way rock and roll sounds today. Brown proves rock is a legitimate art form by talking about its audience and its lasting power. Assumption two states that rocks roots are in folk, jazz, and pop music. Musicians who first started rock and roll must have had something to base their music on which turned out to be primarily folk, jazz, and pop.
They simple changed the pattern and style of that music and started forming rock. Assumption three states that it is just as valid to study rock and roll as European classical music. Rock will prove to be a valid means of producing competent musicians and that it demands the same type of performance as in any musical form. Since it is a valid way in which to study music in general it is just as valid to start with rock as starting anywhere else. Assumption four states that simple musical analysis of selected compositions is a primary tool for understanding musical evolution.
Through musical analysis we are able to generalize and say that rock from a certain era has common characteristics. By doing this we are able to see what influences lead rock to where it is today. The chapter then goes on to discuss the elements of music which are nonverbal communication, melody, rhythm, harmony, lyrics, and performance. Music is nonverbal in that it communicates through organized sound and is difficult to translate, the other elements are what make the sound organized and meaningful.
Melody is an organized set of notes consisting of different pitches. It is basically the up and down motion of the lead singer. Rhythm is those beat of patterns that underlie most forms of communications. It is made up of pulsations that follow a consistent pattern. It will sometimes show us the emotional feel of a song. Harmony is the simultaneous sounding of two or more notes at the same time.
It provides a texture for the total song. Lyrics are the words used in the song and usually tell us what the song and mood of the song is about. Performance tells us the purpose, function, and impact of a certain song. Music generally reflects the value of society.
By using the elements of music you can begin to make assumptions about how rock and roll reflects its society. It quickly took on an attitude of rebellion and eventually became a symbol of independence for youths Chapter two discusses the listening skill needed to better understand music. Through listening we can define the social impact of a rock group and its musical style. This purpose of this chapter is to outline ways in which the individual can create his or her own system of analysis. The chapter then goes on describing what you need to do while listening to music to better analyze it. First you need concentration, you need to change your attitude towards the music you hear everyday and block out any interference, we must treat it seriously and analyze it fairly even if we we don't like it.
Then you need to dissect what your hearing. You have to decide what to use for a reference point and listen to the song more than once. Your first time listening to it you should get a general idea of what the song is like, what its about, and what it has. After that you add more information by listening to each part of the music individually. Lyrics are the easiest to analyze. You must write all the lyrics down and figure out if there is a verse structure.
The chapter then goes into the different types of Melody. First there is the Soprano- lead melody. The lead melody is sometimes called the soprano melody which means the highest melody. Then there is the bass melody, which is normally played by an instrument rather then sung. It is halfway between melody and rhythm, or beat. It is usually low sounding, repetitive.
It is the foundation for the instrumental ensemble. Instruments are another part of melody. It is the instruments that give rock and roll its character and beat. The drums provide the beat, the guitars provide, and the bass guitar plays the bass melody. When analyzing you must also recognize the Rhythm and Harmony. They both determine the complexity of the composition and we must become aware of changes in rhythm or harmony because they indicate changes in the song.
Chapter three discusses the sources of Rock. Slave music was important because when they were brought to the United states they also brought with them their music which was blues and later on early jazz. Acculturation began as soon as their were American-born slaves. They would sing work songs which were basically chants which later on formed to become blues. As blues developed so did early forms of Jazz. One of these forms was the cakewalk was the cakewalk which was a danced step used to make fun of how stiff the white man walked and later on became the first truly Afro-American dance step.
Another form was Ragtime which was a piano style which has four main themes. Then came along other piano styles such as stride, dixieland, and the boogie-woo gie which was the first obvious influence for rock and roll. In the 1930's blues took on a different character because of changes in society, black musicians developed big bands and blues singers continued to have great importance which eventually fostered rhythm and blues. Rock and roll started to develop in the last part of the 1930's mainly because of the start of the removal of the color line between musicians. Chapter four discusses early rock.
They started to somewhat define the rock category by saying that rock uses certain rhythmic devices, its lyrics and jargon came from the jump blues, rhythm and blues, country, or some combination, many pieces use a blues progression, and the basic style of performance shouting by the singer and continues playing by the instrumentalists. There were different types of songs that started to show the development of rock. Shouting, songs in which lyrics were shouted over the band background, was a predominant style of early rock and the foundation for the careers of famous rock musicians. Ballad singing is also an important part of early rock and roll, it is a big band tune from rhythm and blues tradition. Then there was novelties, which were a third kind of rock song.
It was a song with some gimmick that makes it catchy. During the 1950's most Americans felt secure, we started to see ourselves as a world power. We were involved in the cold war and blacks had started their movements. Because of the cultural situation rock and roll became a focal point for rebellion. The marketing techniques were very primitive, but started to turn rock and roll into a multimillion dollar business. Chapter five discusses Bill Haley and the Comets and how they set a model for rock and roll.
There is not much to be said about this chapter because Haley wasn't a great musician and others would come after him and do abetter job at music then he did, but he was essentially one of the first groups to use the elements of music just right to be labeled a rock and roll musician. Chapter six talks about a person who was far more important in giving rock and roll its lasting power then Bill Haley and that person was Elvis Presley. Presley had Musical and personal qualities that far surpassed Haley. Presley opened up markets for other musicians and served as a symbol for the development of marketing techniques. He influenced a tremendous number of musicians. There were other musicians who came from Memphis and were labeled the Memphis Mafia.
They produced a more marketable combination of records using ballads and novelties. Country was also influenced by this wave of new rock musicians and created the Nashville sound. Some rockabilly musicians include Johnny Cash, who was more influential in folk music as he developed his style, Buddy Holly, who could have contributed to rock just as much as Presley did if he had lived longer, Jerry Lee Lewis, who was one of the first rock and roll piano players, and Carl Perkins. Chapter seven talks about the broadening of the music style and the performers who came out of this period. During this time, 1950's, rock had become legitimized as a category all on its own. By this time there were four different types of rock and roll: Rhythm and Blues / shouting , crooning, specialty songs, and novelty / monster songs.
Free acculturation also came into play around this time. Ray Charles is the musician who legitimized this position. Urbanization of rock and roll from rural to urban blues led to the circumstances in which rock and roll could be marketed. Rock and Roll began asa rough form of music. became urban blues form, and then eventually took in other forms in order to expand its market. Ballads became significant in the 1950's because they expanded the listening audience and in turn gained acceptance by the public.
The first ballads predate the invention of the term rock an roll. Chapter eight focuses on soul / mow town music. This music had great influence around the 1960's which were times of tumult and confusion. Rock music had new messages and new means to communicate. Rock around this time relied heavily on the rhythm section because the style was vocally dominated. Also around this time Memphis played a more important part because it became a center for studio recording.
Because of the popularity of gospel and soul along with rhythm and blues, billboard combined the categories into one called soul. M.