INTRODUCTION of 20th century until now. Many different musical



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Try to imagine world without Rock and Roll. Would pop music be the same as it is right now? It has been a long road from the beginning of 20th century until now. Many different musical genres have consumed society. Every genre in every particular era was describing how people lived and how they behaved, but every genre had been inspired by some music from the past. Rock and roll had to arise from some income streams as well. From the early 20th century, genres have passed from classical music to jazz, blues, and country music. Everything depended on the geographic position and customs of the society from that particular place. All music was mostly heard in TV shows, radios or at live venues, but everything started changing in the 40’s. Culturally, rock and roll was quickly classified as a protest of teenager against adult authority. Forming of this new rebellious teen class made it possible for musicians to create new music with a special dance energy, and put more emotional expression into the music. After World War II, young people begun to have more leisure time and money than ever before. Technological growth also allowed teenagers to choose and listen their favourite radio stations, even at home. Rock and roll has been on the ground since early forties. What factors went into the creation one of the most successful genres of all time? Rock and Roll was the final of the 7 streams from the early 20th century. Pop, Black pop, Country, Jazz, Folk and the fusion of Gospel music. People know these streams, but what are they and why did it all happen to create Rock and Roll exactly like it was? Did Rock and Roll bring positive impact into the music or was it just another era of ‘pop’ mainstream music? This Essay will examine these musical streams that helped to form one of the biggest genres of 20th century and, discover how genres can influence and create new genre that can impact the future.


Blues was the most significant genre that influenced rock and roll. The term ‘race music’ replaced the formation of the new black pop genre called rhythm and blues, which was already a combination of musical styles. It also pre dated rock and roll in terms of rhythm. It took a rhythm section from jazz and big band music, and the emotional intense from gospel and old blues. Rhythm and blues for the very first time showed audience emotional self expression. Twelve bar form, strong backbeat and walking bass were the most common and significant aspects taken from blues. Blues and rock and roll also shared similar instrumentation with guitars, drums, saxophone or trumpet and vocals, sometimes accompanied by backing harmony as well. In late 19th century and early 20th century, southern Americans were singing blues music connected with expressional lyrics of their enslaved parents and grandparents. Roy Browns’ ‘Good rocking tonight’ which invoked the positive party vibe, foreshadowed the coming rock and roll sound. Rhythm and blues begun spreading more into the mainstream audience. Eventually white Dj’s on the radio begun playing rhythm and blues for a coloured audience. Some Dj’s begun to name it rock and roll because they wanted to hide its black rhythm and blues origin. The First of them and one of the most prominent Dj’s was well known Alan Freed who was commonly referred as a father of Rock and Roll due to his idea of naming a new genre. Because of his huge promotion he became a hero of black pop. 

Blues was classified as work music and spirituals because black workers would often sing them during physical labour. Later in 1940 several blacks had dream to make their living with music but there was still no place in the south for blacks to represent their culture because of race degradation. By that time white sound engineer Sam Philips opened the Memphis based recording service. He came up with the idea to allow black musicians to record their traditional blues expressions and ideas. Eventually Philips started his own record company called Sun, by recording black blues singers whose records begun showing up at jukeboxes when high class white kids were meeting and dancing to them. Most of the white citizens in Memphis and generally in the south had little use for the sound Sam Phillips was making because they had been raised on country, western and hillbilly music. He was still looking for someone special, ‘If only I could find a white man with a negro sound and a negro feel, I could make a billion dollars!’. Eventually it happened exactly how he dreamed. Nineteen year old, good looking Elvis Presley with acne on his neck, long greasy hair and shaggy sideburns, arrived at Sun studios on Saturday, 26 June 1954. The most impressive thing was his personal attitude. Humility connected with strong determination and brave obsession reminded Sam of many great musicians who had come to his studio. In the words of Sam Philips, “His insecurity was so markedly like that of a black person”. Three years later while Elvis’s writer Jerry Lieber and Mike Stroller were in New York working on the music for Elvis’s new film, they wrote five of his tracks in four hours. One of them was a song named ‘Jailhouse Rock’ which after release in September 1957 reached number one hit. Jailhouse rock was his first song to reach number one on the Uk charts as well. Jailhouse Rock was so popular that they decided to make it into a movie. The whole concept of the song is mainly set by switching between two parts. First part is based on a two chord intro and second followed by twelve bar blues. Jailhouse rock has one of the best groovy intros in the rock and roll history, accompanied snare drums and two layered guitars. The lyrics of the track was aiming on the Jail’s homoerotic surroundings in a spicy and funny way. 


Country, when mixed with rock and roll was named rockabilly because these two genres shared many similar aspects which country artists started to use commonly. Country had been and old forming genre which had come from southwestern America, mostly Texas, Kentucky and Alabama. In Texas, Jimmie Rodgers was trying to incorporate country music with blues by recording black musicians. It brought big aesthetics and income in to rock and roll, for instance a lot of fashion elements such as cowboy hats and fringe jackets. Hank Williams, singer from Alabama who clearly connected country with rock and roll. For instance ‘Movin’ on over’ reached number four billboard single chart in late 1940’s as a country song . Later the song was claimed as a big resemblance with ‘rock around a clock’. By the early 1950s in Chicago’s steel mills and factories were offering work opportunity and better life for thousands of blacks from the deep south. A lot of them were musicians raised on country and blues. In the black spreading Southside ghetto musicians begun play an electric blues that could be heard in basements of the urban neighbourhood where blacks congregated. One of these basements was owned by two brothers from Poland, Phil and Leonard Chess who started a company to record the black urban bluesmen. By the 1955, Chess records were seeking ways to adapt their music to expand the rock and roll market. At the same time, singer Chuck Berry traveled to Chicago to meet Muddy Waters and by their suggestion he contacted and visited Chess records. When he arrived, he impressed Leonard with his particular vocal style and guitar style which was kind of blues, country but pure rock and roll. In 1958 Berry recorded song named Johnny B. Goode which referred a country boy who couldn’t do anything well except playing guitar. The song was based on his own story of his humble beginnings when he decided to be a famous musician. The song was following a 12-bar blues with the melodic influence of country. His awesome electric guitar riffs combined with a unique dance performance on the stage caused he became a national star. Tin pan Alley was a leading and first group of mainstream music songwriters and publishers in America in late 19th early 20th century. James E. Myers and Max C. Freedman worked in Tin pan alley while legendary Bill Halley was blowing up with a successful song named ‘Crazy man crazy’ so they offered him another track called ‘Rock around the clock’. Bill agreed and later on rock around the clock become first official worldwide rock and roll hit . 

Jazz, folk and gospel were minor genres in terms of rock and roll influence, but somehow they put in many aspects subconsciously. Jazz stream came mostly from New Orleans and it contributed rock and roll mainly by instrumental components, for instance structure of and band instrumentation was very similar. Musicians also provided very popular jazz instrument.  Saxophone was part of a ‘Jailhouse rock’ when mentioned Little Joe was playing saxophone in the background. Almost every rock and roll song included space for showing musicianship via instrumental parts leaded with a simplified guitar solo. Rock and roll influence is lying deep in the old African music. ‘The single most important process was the influence of black music on white’ (Robert Palmer). American early century music such as ragtime, blues, jazz and gospel was the basis on what rock and roll built up. Legendary gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe highly influenced rock and roll for instance, she was one of the first singers who used term ‘rock’ in the song ‘rock me’ which was released in 1941. In 1920 some jazz musician started to slowly changing their style of play into blues. Rhythmically, older jazz was based on swing, for example Duke Ellington or Fletcher Henderson were developing their play to dance music by simplifying jazz. 
It wasn’t very active genre on rock and roll growth. 


Everything new in creative art industry has to be influenced by something already existing. What is happening when wide consumer society discover new style and even lifestyle? In answering the question what exactly the streams are, in terms of rock and roll music are three main streams; artistic system, social movement and economic framework. Not saying just in music, but when mainstream music is changing, society is changing as well. Rock and roll changed the youth approach, complexion diversions, lifestyle and even language. In rock and roll for the first time Afro-American musicians reached white audience which caused that young society slowly stoped with colour separation and connected via music. That happened because of both races loved the same music.

People have always tried to push out their ideas and opinions via new creations. It has always been obvious when someone came with something better, it was more likeable. Thats exactly what happened with rock and roll. It changed people’s thinking, and understanding. In 1950’s rock and roll became leading genre in the world and caused drop of other genres such as old blues, jazz and folk. People purely accepted movement  which rock and roll bring. Sometimes just a very small act can cause enormous change in a big thing. 

Rock and roll was a pure popular music genre. Nothing else. It took advantage and blew up very quickly.