Mersey Sound

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The Mersey Beat style , also called Mersey Sound, developed in the late 1950s in the English port city of Liverpool and its surroundings, the industrial area of ​​Merseyside, as a youth culture. The Mersey Beat had its marriage from 1958 to 1964. Its characteristic feature is the continuous rhythm, also known as the beat . The style was best known through the Beatles , who had their origins in the Mersey Beat.

Origin and socio-political background

Due to the poor economic situation in the port city of Liverpool and the resulting high levels of unemployment, many young people had no prospects at the time. Liverpool's structural crisis was primarily a consequence of the advancing technology . The traditional industries and factories located on Merseyside were less and less needed after World War II, and in 1960 there were 30,000 unemployed in Liverpool. The young people living in poor conditions discovered rock 'n' roll , which reached the west coast of England from the United States, and began to play well-known songs. At that time, events in official dance halls were socially recognized. Old-fashioned dance bands played there in the evenings. The admission prices were too high for the youngsters, however, and they also felt restricted by the regulations of the older generation. So they started to play their own unconventional music. Many amateur bands were founded with the sole motivation, to have fun with music. With mediocre talent and the simplest means, they developed a style from a simplified form of rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues and skiffle elements (skiffle is reduced, improvised music on simple, mainly self-made instruments) that was later called "Mersey Beat" got. This is derived from a magazine of the same name, which was the first to report on the emerging youth culture. More and more young people could identify with the music, soon they opened dozens of their own small dance halls, in which they could be among themselves and no longer dependent on the honest values ​​and regulations of their parents. However, the aim of the scene was not to rebel against the parents' generation, but rather not to offend the existing society, to pursue their interests undisturbed and to develop. So you were not critical of the system or left-wing political.


Over time, the popularity grew. In 1960 there were 350 bands in and around Liverpool. The music industry also showed interest: Many musically untalented amateurs were marketed as stars by their managers. Most of these bands had a hit or two and then disappeared into oblivion. The best-known manager in this context was Brian Epstein , who, in addition to the Beatles, also helped the band Gerry & The Pacemakers to success. After the Beatles and other British bands had their breakthrough in America ( British Invasion ) from 1964 , the English music scene shifted to London. That meant the end of the Liverpool music scene and with it the Mersey Beats. It developed further into general English beat music and was, in retrospect, fundamental to modern western rock and pop music.

Musical characteristics

Since the young people had few resources and most of them were absolute beginners, the musical reduction is the salient basic feature of the Mersey Beats. The typical band consisted of four to five boys of almost the same age who played melody guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. The continuously audible, metric basic beat ( beat ) in 4/4 time is emphasized on the second and fourth beats ( backbeat ). As rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues and the Mersey Beat is based on the 12-bar blues pattern (IIII IV IV IV IIA II). In contrast to rock 'n' roll, the tempo is more moderate and the singing is polyphonic. Almost all band members sing at least harmoniously in the background. The two- to three-part song form, which divides the song into stanzas, chorus and bridge, is characteristic. The frequent repetition supports the memorable effect of the simple melodies and texts. The texts mostly contain less complex everyday topics - mainly love - and are apolitical and uncritical.

Main representative

The most important and famous representatives of the Mersey Beats are The Beatles in their early days, before they emancipated themselves more and more from their origins. Many critics consider the Beatles to be the most decisive band of the entire 20th century. They made the Mersey Beat famous, but were not, as is often claimed, the founders of the Liverpool music scene. Also known are bands like The Searchers , which exist to this day, Gerry & The Pacemakers , which were particularly successful with their version of You'll Never Walk Alone , and the typical Merseybeats .


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