Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rock and Grunge Research Paper

Research Paper on History of Rock and Grunge

Sometimes it is interesting to wonder for one second about how our lives would be without something we are so used to have around. For example, can we really imagine how our life would be without computers? Or maybe we can imagine how our lives would be without telephone?  Of course, it is very hard to imagine our lives without these crucial and so indispensable things. However, what would be even harder is to imagine our lives without music. In fact, can we actually do it? In my opinion, it is impossible because humans, and actually all living beings, are simply indivisible with musical sounds. Music has been so crucial to the humanity that in the last couple of decades the new science called Biomusicology appeared.  According to this science, proposed by Pennsylvania University, music entered the world even prior to the time when a human did (Wallin, Merker, Brown).


The above passages one more time indicated how vital music is for us. If truth be told, if music is so essential for us, the human beings, we should make it our goal to learn more about its different variations. In my paper I would like to present the reader with the current research I have made about such musical styles as rock and grunge. Lower I will present the history of the mentioned above music styles as well as will provide other interesting information on the topic.

Over the course of the history, the changes have influenced the way people behaved and felt.  With each social reformation, cultural forms, norms and rules were changed as well as simply the psychology of the people. Usually during the times of doubt and emotional instability music was helping those in trouble. Thus, the factors of insecurity and craving for change and freedom as well as many more factors came into play in the first half of the 20th century and enabled the birth of rock’n’roll and its future developments. It is interesting, that the emerging of rock’n’roll actually can be traced back to 1892, when popular music firstly in history became a big business. It was at that time when the music publishers started renting small offices all over New York, but especially in its bohemian neighborhoods, and would start organizing meetings for the future stars as well as listen to their new rebellious pieces. In reality, the neighborhood in New York where the first sounds of rock’n’roll sounded would later be renamed «Tin Pan Alley» (Johnstone, p. 57).

From it is beginning rock’n’roll was typically defined as a merger of rhythm’n’blues and country music. It may sound as a surprise, but some of the earliest rock artists did not even write their songs. What they did instead was covering the old blues songs and adding their own special rock touches to them. As it can be expected, at first, rock was a very secret underground movement including in its majority the African Americans.  The situation was changed when a DJ from Cleveland, Alan Freed, took the matter into his hands.  He noticed the popularity that was slowly generating around the African American rhythm and blues albums (Azerrad, p. 419). Moreover, he noticed that young, white teenagers were frequently buying them.  Alan Freed knew how to conduct business, thus he decided not to miss the opportunity. He started to advertise the African American music, using the new fashionable term “rock ‘n’ roll” for it. The advertisement took place at first n the streets, in clubs and at fan meetings, but continued with advertising on the radio. The results of Freed’s actions were overpowering. The popularization of the before known “black music” led to the destruction of the racial barriers as well as it simply turned rock’n’roll into the mainstream. When the first success came, Alan Feed started to organize the first rock concerts mainly on the East Cost of the United States (George-Warren, p. 644-646).

In the 1950s of rock’n’roll was picked up by everyone. There was no one who did not possess at least a couple of the rock’n’roll records. In fact, rock had a major social impact on the world during the 1950s. In this genre of music, the lyrics were much more offensive and political than in others. In consequence, rock’n’roll became the music of rebellion. The rock songs of that time cursed the parents, the teachers, rules, regulation and the system in general. It was at that time that the rock star of all times had emerged on the rock’n’roll sky. The name of the artist is, of course, Elvis Presley, known to everyone as the king of rock. His music was the new rage, the new religion of the teenagers (Johnstone, 56-60).

In the 1960s rock music would start to go hand in hand with sex and drugs. Actually, this decade was marked in the history by its dissolution and the drug abuse. The rock stars of that time perfectly followed the pattern mentioned above. It was a time that a rock star was expected to have a chaotic wild lifestyle (George-Warren, p. 123-124) . The rock songs of the period are filled with hints and open references to drug abuse and sexual debauchery. In 1970s the arena rock appeared. It was introduced by such legendary bands the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Arena rock typically was a little harder than other genres of rock, though it was not at all alike with heavy metal or punk. During the 1980s, rock began to split into many different genres that, in fact, were all equally popular.  However, in the 1990s the traditions rock genres were moved a little bit out of the scene by such new streams as emo, sca and punk rock (George-Warren, p. 345-346).

The next music stream I would like to cover is grunge. It is considered that grudge is actually more than music, but it is a philosophy, a state of mind and being. The music stream was influenced by early 70’s punk and heavy metal music. Grudge was firstly introduced in Seattle where rock bands developed a sound that would lift up alternative music to the top of the musical mountain. The new stream received its name “grunge” because of the fact that the main sound in the style was a nasty, grinding guitar sound termed of the same name.

Grunge became a social movement in the early 90’s that was driven by the music.As it is with every popular music movement, grunge was immediately adopted by teenagers and young adults of the United States and quickly spread throughout the western world. Grunge became officially commercially successful in the early 1990s, due mainly to the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten. The triumph of these bands increased the fame of alternative rock and made grunge the most well-liked and trendy form of hard rock music at the time.  It is not surprising that Seattle became the mother-city of grunge music, because the city had always been famous for the underground rebellious movements of its youth (Lyons, p. 128-129). 

As it was with rock’n’roll, grunge soon became the way for young people to express their feelings and emotions. The emotions expressed in the grunge songs were mostly the dark ideas about the current situation in the world as well hopes for the future anarchy. It can be even said that grunge songs, as song songs on the rock’n’roll movement advertised sexual violence and sexual harassment as well urging to use drugs in various forms.  It is aid that grunge was never meant to be as big as it was, however it did become very big and  had changed the lives of millions of young people all over the world (Humphrey, p. 63).

Rock’n’roll and grunge music movements, though having some differences, have for sure one things in come. That is that the mentioned movements have survived and did not lose their popularity. The philosophies of both are still alive and valid. In my opinion, the biggest contributions that the discussed music trends have made is that they showed teenagers that it was not a problem to be different (Hepcat). Actually, the underlying philosophy of the streams was that it is good and, actually, absolutely acceptable and even welcome to be different.  The changes occurred in the filed of music in the period between 1950s and 1990s has forever changed the way we perceived the world. Moreover, it is certain that they will continue to influence our perception in the years to come (Azerrad, p. 419).
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