Rock music

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Development phase: Late 1950s
Place of origin: United Kingdom
Stylistic precursors
Rock and roll
Elvis PresleyThe Rolling StonesThe Beatles
Instruments typical of the genre
Stylistic successor
Metal , punk
Alternative rockArt rockBlues rockCountry rockClassic rockDark rockGarage rockGlam rockGrungeHard rockIndustrial rockNoise rockPop rockProgressive rockPsychedelic rockSoft rockSouthern rockStoner RockSurf RockSwamp RockViking Rock
The rock band The Rolling Stones

Rock music , briefly and rock , is the general term for genres of music , which since the late 1960s from the mixing of rock 'n' roll of the late 1950s and early 1960s and other musical styles such. B. have developed beat music and blues . Many genres within rock music are identified with individual youth cultures .

Casting a rock band

The line-up of rock groups traditionally consists of electric and / or acoustic guitars, electric bass , drums and vocals . This line-up is often complemented by piano and keyboards such as the Hammond organ and synthesizer . Depending on the style (e.g. funk rock ), wind instruments are also used. In terms of music theory , this is homophonic music: A rhythm section accompanies; Vocals, guitar or other solo instruments lead with a striking melody.

Cult and culture

With his appearance on the scene, the rock star, personified first by Elvis Presley , later by the Beatles , the Rolling Stones and subsequently by ever new protagonists and bands, replaced the Hollywood star as a figure of identification. Compared to the latter, the rock star unleashed a youth movement that caused generational and social conflicts to break out in a way that is unparalleled in history. The reasons for this are diverse. First, it can be said that rock music encountered a white, Anglo-American suburban society, whose mix of wealth and patriarchal World War II pride formed a thin crust just waiting to be broken.

This was not possible for the film star because it is a flawless product that is already presented to the young consumer and that he has to leave behind after the cinema screening. Portable turntables, transistor radios and car radios made it possible to permanently surround yourself with the music and to take it with you everywhere. The physical presence of the sound alone, which structurally uses the element “noise” in rock music, serves as a demarcation from other generations and more adapted youth groups. In addition to the actual music, the periphery also plays an important role. With the record cover in hand, dressed like the star and surrounded by the posters with the famous poses, shows or dance performances, rock culture was presented in a new way in the youth room.

In addition, in rock music there is no such thing as B. in Hollywood film , classical music or jazz , perfection or technical virtuosity is what matters. Since Elvis Presley 's bouncing vocals on That's All Right , Jimmy Page's deliberately misguided mistakes on the Led Zeppelin II album , the rough amateurism of the Sex Pistols to the squeaks and high-pitched screams of Michael Jackson , it is the moment, The physical, the authentic and the individual that is at the center, the unrepeatability of the moment, which makes the boundaries between musician and music listener disappear even further.



The rock 'n' roll band Bill Haley & His Comets

Rock music goes back to rock 'n' roll , which in turn emerged from the combination of country music and rhythm and blues . Bill Haley's record Rock Around the Clock from April 12, 1954 helped rock 'n' roll international breakthrough. Best-known representatives of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s were Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry , Jerry Lee Lewis , Little Richard and Buddy Holly . During this time, Chuck Berry, in particular, established the guitar as a new lead instrument and replaced the previously common saxophone with it.

Rock music as an independent form of music differs from rock 'n' roll essentially in its rhythm: In rock, the eighth notes are played in binary, that is, "straight", as we know it from Latin American and European music. In rock 'n' roll, on the other hand , the eighth notes between the beats (between the quarter notes) are shifted slightly backwards so that a ternary rhythm ( shuffle ) emerges , as is known from classical jazz.


The rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix

Rock 'n' roll was stylistically changed in England in the 1960s. Two of the most important pioneers as the forerunners of rock music are the beat band The Beatles and the band The Rolling Stones, which is heavily influenced by blues . This is where the first genre splitting took place, which later became characteristic of the rock scene: On the one hand there were the Beatles with their beat music , who performed in suits with ties and played more melodic songs, and on the other hand the Rolling Stones, who attracted attention by a rather rough sound. Rolling Stone magazine calls the Rolling Stones title (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction the actual birth of rock. Together with the Kinks , these bands triggered the so-called British Invasion in the USA . The Yardbirds also played a major role in the London blues scene, first hiring Eric Clapton as lead guitarist, who was then replaced by Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page . John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers played a similar role. While John Mayall was inspired to found the band by Alexis Korner , who is considered to be the foster father of the Rolling Stones and the primordial cell of the British blues movement, in 1967 the Stones guitarist Mick Taylor took the place of Peter Green on the lead guitar as Fleetwood Mac founded. Before that, Clapton had done this job before starting the first supergroup with Cream .

With the appearance of bands like Cream, The Who or The Jimi Hendrix Experience , a phase of technically more demanding topics began to find its way into rock music in the mid-1960s. During this time, Cream established extensive improvisations within rock music and has since influenced it sustainably, u. a. Bands like Led Zeppelin , Deep Purple , Jeff Beck Group . With the concept albums Tommy from The Who, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band from the Beatles, Pet Sounds from the Beach Boys and Disreali Gears from Cream, the long-playing record, which now covers everything from cover design to dramaturgical song sequence to telling a complex story as Complete works were considered, the single in its importance. A high point of this development can be seen in the albums of Led Zeppelin, who refused to decouple singles or selected very uncommercial pieces like Whole Lotta Love or released an album on which neither the band name nor an album title could be read.

With Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds, the Beatles and the Beach Boys explored the possibilities of the studio and recorded influences from concrete music with animal voices and everyday noises. With the collaboration of Pete Townshend and Jim Marshall , who developed the famous Marshall stack together and the combination of Gibson- Les-Paul guitar over Marshall amplifiers, as played by Clapton on the so-called Beano album of the Bluesbreakers , it established itself classic rock sound.

An integral part of rock music in the second half of the 1960s was the psychedelic and West Coast scene. In San Francisco , bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service , Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead became known. In sprawling improvisations at happening-like concerts, they celebrated their extra-long pieces in front of an audience, for whose enjoyment the consumption of drugs played an important role. The promise and hubris of this era flashed in the two great festivals of 1969. While Woodstock celebrated the utopia of a new society, that dream fell apart after the death of Meredith Hunter while the Rolling Stones performed at the Altamont Free Concert .

Like almost all new styles of music, rock music was highly controversial in its early days. The appearance of the protagonists with long hair and obscene, loud music was considered scandalous. Individual representatives of the establishment tried to push the scene into a satanic corner. But it was precisely this rejection that probably contributed significantly to giving the rock scene the status of rebel and revolutionary, which it would retain until the 1970s and which culminated in the peace movement against the Vietnam War . Rock music and the hippie scene are firmly connected here. The folk- oriented rock music played a major role here , as it is e.g. B. by Bob Dylan , Crosby, Stills & Nash (& Young) and Creedence Clearwater Revival and which can be identified with the political protest song . A good portrayal of the situation at that time can be found in the musical Hair , which is about the resistance of young Americans from the hippie scene against the Vietnam War.

The number of successful rock musicians rose rapidly in the late 1960s. This inevitably led to an ever increasing fragmentation of the scene into a large number of sub-genres, a development that led to the fact that soon every band with an individual sound image immediately claimed its own genre for itself. This process was promoted by the music industry, which was interested in it for marketing reasons. Aside from the hippie scene, the experimental music that flourished in this decade, such as the sound experiments of the group The Velvet Underground , developed into the first punk bands , which today are mostly classified as protopunk .


The punk band Sex Pistols

Glamrock is to be understood as a further development of the sexual liberation of the late sixties , a mixture of hard rock and pop music, which expressed itself through a futuristic, androgynous aesthetic. British bands such as The Sweet , Slade and T. Rex were particularly popular , and David Bowie and Queen also had their roots here. At the same time, hard rock , from which metal would later develop, had a high phase. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin were the main pioneers here .

Another main direction of the early 1970s was an artistic approach that developed from psychedelic rock , but also took up elements from classical music , new music , jazz or folk and manifested itself in the genres of art rock and progressive rock . Important representatives were Pink Floyd , Genesis , Yes , Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Jethro Tull .

The genre continued to establish and commercialize until the mid-seventies, becoming “stadium rock”, a development that was revolutionized and perfected by the Eagles and Led Zeppelin , among others . Extensive tours that filled large stadiums across the globe, endless armies of stage hands, sound engineers and roadies, sophisticated light shows, enormous amounts of dry ice, lasers, monitor boxes and amplifiers that were transported in countless articulated lorries now shaped the picture.

As a response to this development towards bombast, but also as a countermovement to the emerging disco music and to the hippieism, which is regarded as peaceful, the more rebellious subculture of punk emerged in the further course of the decade . Forerunners of the punk movement, which are still deeply rooted in classical rock music, can be seen in AC / DC and Motörhead , which initiated a return and detox to simple, fast, pure and unfussy rock. Important representatives of punk were the Sex Pistols , The Clash and the Ramones . Here, too, elements of other musical styles should form the basis for a new genre, the New Wave . The fusion of reggae and punk, heard in the music of The Police and Fischer-Z, was typical of the music of this time . But representatives of "Black Music" such as Michael Jackson also entered into connections with rock music.

The advancing digitalization in music production and an ever increasing perfectionism made the emergence of music styles beyond rock possible. The avant-garde Krautrock such as Can or above all Kraftwerk had their share in this development by laying the foundation for electronic pop music with their experimental music .


In the 1980s, so-called "Pop Metal" bands made a name for themselves, such as Bon Jovi , Def Leppard , Europe and the most successful German band, the Scorpions . These groups were very successful in these years. Of all the big bands of that time, only Bon Jovi were able to maintain their fan base, who are still very successful today and whose music stylistically developed from metal to stadium rock in the late 1980s.

After the creative high phase of punk subsided, partly because of its demarcation, first post-punk emerged , which produced groups such as Joy Division and The Cure , and closely related to it the so-called New Wave . In terms of style, after the opulence of the 1970s, things often went in a cooler, more reduced direction. Dark, monotonous singing voices became fashionable. Synthetic sound generators were also increasingly used, which laid the foundation for the development of synthpop and all of electronic dance music .

The difference between pop and rock was intensified in the 1980s, especially by the independent scene, which saw itself in the tradition of punk and tried to differentiate itself from the mainstream of the music industry. A diverse and large scene with many sub-genres emerged here, which later switched to alternative in the course of the 1990s and the most important representatives of which are the Pixies and Sonic Youth . Heavy metal also experienced a heyday through groups like Iron Maiden , Motörhead or Metallica , during which a multitude of sub-genres formed. At the interface between rock and pop, many bands emerged that were among the most popular and commercially successful of the decade, for example Queen , Joan Jett and the Blackhearts , Big Country , Genesis , Yes , Simple Minds , U2 , REM , Van Halen , Whitesnake or The Cure . The decade ended with the band Guns N 'Roses , who became megastars in 1987 with their album Appetite for Destruction and the hits Paradise City and Sweet Child o'mine . The development of music television had a major impact on this final era of superstars. The broadcaster MTV , which began as a rock broadcaster, was able to use the heavy rotation instrument to make bands into stars.


The grunge band Nirvana
The hard rock group Guns N 'Roses

At the beginning of the 1990s, rock music experienced an unexpected boost from the success of the US grunge band Nirvana , who, after experimenting and digitizing in the 1980s, played musically simpler music again and had a lasting impact on the entire alternative scene of the 1990s. In the course of the popularization of grunge, bands like Soundgarden , Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins also achieved great commercial success. With the death of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain , grunge lost a lot of its popularity and became an underground genre again, although Pearl Jam and the Melvins continued to release records and toured with success into the new millennium. A variant of grunge was the feminist Riot Grrrl movement around bands like Bikini Kill , Hole and Babes in Toyland , which, like Kurt Cobain, tried to break through the dominance of male super rock starters in the style of Axl Rose with his macho poses. Nonetheless, Guns N 'Roses continued to cause a stir around the world with their Use Your Illusion Tour in early 1990, making them one of the few older rock bands that achieved enormous success in the 1990s despite the massive influence of grunge.

At the beginning of the decade, the first crossover bands also appeared. Rage Against the Machine , Incubus, and especially the Red Hot Chili Peppers gained great popularity. Skatepunk popularized relationships between music, trendy and extreme sports and the associated lifestyle . In 1994 there was a wave of neopunk that was triggered by albums like Green Days Dookie . In this context, bands such as NOFX , Rancid , Bad Religion or The Offspring became known to a wider audience. Many of these bands are classified as pop-punk . Stoner or Desert Rock, established in the early nineties by the bands Kyuss and the successor groups Queens of the Stone Age and Fu Manchu as well as Monster Magnet , can also be assigned to the harder sub-genres of rock . Slower rhythms, deeper-tuned guitars, sometimes played over bass amplifiers and the unmistakable influence of Black Sabbath shaped this style, which is still played by Clutch , Pontiak and the Truckfighters .

In the mid-1990s, Britpop broke the dominance of US grunge and alternative rock. British pop and rock music of the 1960s and 1970s served as a source of inspiration for young British bands, mixed with elements of Madchester , Shoegazing , but also alternative rock. Blur , Pulp , The Verve and Oasis had such a lasting influence on rock music of the late decade. In 1996 the British band Placebo released their first album . With their dark mix of Britpop and Alternative Rock they made a name for themselves. Merging and experimenting did not come to the fore again until the end of the decade through interpreters who adapted elements from the electronic music that was celebrating success at the time, such as Radiohead , Blur and Nine Inch Nails .


The new millennium was marked by a sweeping retro wave . Bands like The Strokes , Kings of Leon , The Subways , Mando Diao , Wolfmother , The White Stripes and Franz Ferdinand used typical elements from earlier decades and put them back on the music charts ; The Hives and The Libertines stand on the shoulders of old punk greats like Television and the Bright Eyes have a lot in common with Bob Dylan . The punk revival of the 1990s, especially pop punk , continued for a long time with bands like Blink-182 , Sum 41 and Simple Plan .

At the beginning of the decade, the crossover band Korn attracted attention with their combination of metal and hip-hop elements. Together with bands like Linkin Park , Limp Bizkit , System of a Down , Slipknot and Papa Roach , who further developed metal stylistically, this forms the genre Nu Metal .

The alternative rock group Radiohead
The Britpop band Oasis

In Great Britain, indie bands such as Arctic Monkeys , Maxïmo Park , The Fratellis , Bloc Party and The Kooks dominated from the middle of the decade . These bands are clearly in the tradition of the British bands of the 1990s. The "old" bands of Britpop and Alternative Rock such as B. Oasis , Blur and Radiohead also released successful albums in the 2000s. The band Arcade Fire , which is partly also assigned to the indie, revived the art rock genre with a wide range of instruments . Bands like Archive or Animal Collective tended to penetrate rock music from electronic genres. With their combination of electronic, alternative, hard and progressive rock ( New Prog ) , Muse were also able to achieve great success throughout the decade.

In addition, alternative rock bands, which are occasionally assigned to the emo genre, such as Jimmy Eat World , Billy Talent , Paramore , Bullet for My Valentine , 30 Seconds to Mars , My Chemical Romance or Panic! Record chart successes at the Disco . The German pop-rock band Tokio Hotel , which was also to become one of the most successful German bands of the decade internationally , was also associated with this genre . In the German-speaking region, bands from Hamburg such as Kettcar , Tomte and Tocotronic combined indie rock and indie pop in a further development of the Hamburg school. Even pop-rock bands such as July , silver moon or Madsen were successful in the mid-2000s.

A very lively independent rock scene also developed in Scandinavia, with Motorpsycho , Turbonegro , Soundtrack of our Lives , Refused , the Hives and Kvelertak in an uncomplicated way of dealing with the rich heritage and relaxed influences from black metal and punk to the Beach Boys , and the Allmann Brothers , processed.

Since 2010

In the last few years before 2010 the importance of electronic sounds and synthesizers in rock music increased again. Electronic influences could also be heard in the development of bands that, like the Arctic Monkeys or Franz Ferdinand, were (still) part of the post-punk revival at the beginning . She later became recognizable with the Strokes. Indie rock thus generally moved from the "garage character" to more progressive music. Bands like Foals , Klaxons or Vampire Weekend contributed to this trend with their form of indie rock . The newer music also has a greater direct influence on These New Puritans or the Wild Beasts .

Since the beginning of the 2010s, bands like Tame Impala , Allah-Las , Foxygen , John Steel Singers , Temples and Warpaint have seen a psychedelic rock revival. Elements of this genre can also be found on the 2013 album AM by the Arctic Monkeys, which was described by the NME as the best album of the decade to date.

In 2017 rock music was replaced as the best-selling genre in the US charts; Rhythm and blues and hip-hop had the largest share of consumption at 25.1 percent, followed by rock with 23 percent. Rock music still has the bulk of album sales at 40 percent, but sales have been falling for years.

See also

Portal: Rock Music  - Overview of Wikipedia content on rock music


  • Günter Ehnert : Rock in Germany. Taurus Press, Hamburg 1975.
  • Jonathan Eisen (Ed.): The Age of Rock. Sounds of the American Cultural Revolution. 2 volumes, Vintage Books 1969–1970; Random House, New York 1970.
  • Ernst Hofacker: Giants - The legendary builders of rock music . Hannibal Verlag, Höfen 2011, ISBN 978-3-85445-363-5
  • Matthias S. Fifka: Rock music in the 50s and 60s. From youthful rebellion to a generation's protest . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2007, ISBN 978-3-8329-2522-2 .
  • Christian Graf, Burghard Rausch: Rockmusiklexikon Europa, Vol. 1. Fischer Tb., Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-596-16428-1 .
  • Christian Graf, Burghard Rausch: Rockmusiklexikon Europa, Vol. 2. Fischer Tb., Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-596-16429-X .
  • Christian Graf, Burghard Rausch: Rock Music Lexicon America, Africa, Asia, Australia , Fischer Tb, Frankfurt 2003, ISBN 3-596-15869-9 .
  • Tibor Kneif: Sachlexikon rock music. Instruments, styles, techniques, industry and history . Revised and expanded edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek b. Hamburg 1980, ISBN 3-499-16223-7 (lexicon and sample collection from rock 'n' roll , rhythm & blues , jazz rock , funk metal , country rock , folk rock , blues rock , hard rock , punk , new wave and a Register).
  • Tibor Kneif: rock music. A manual for critical understanding. With a contribution by Carl-Ludwig Reichert . Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1982, ISBN 3-499-16279-2 (with a chapter on the basics of rock music, e.g. elements, instruments and stylistic roots as well as materials on a theory of rock music, its sociology, aesthetics and history) .
  • Frank Laufenberg , Ingrid Laufenberg: Frank Laufenberg's hit lexicon of rock and pop. Ullstein Tb., 2002, ISBN 3-548-36362-8 .
  • Siegfried Schmidt-Joos : Rock Lexicon. (with a detailed introductory part) Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1973, 1975, 1990 and 2008.
  • Klaus Staib: Rock music and the 1968 movement. A historical-musicological analysis . Kovac, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8300-4588-5 .

Web links

Commons : Rock music  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Rock music  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Mike Williams: Arctic Monkeys ., accessed September 11, 2014.
  2. Why Rock'n'Roll has been dying for ten years