Music from Its Grass Roots to Bluegrass
Music is that pleasant or annoying thing that we all like to listen to in one way or another. It is one of the areas where we differ so much in our tastes. So, lets us try and satisfy a few of them by exploring how music began alongside considering some of the most popular genres.
‘Hurrian Hymn No. 6’ is the oldest recorded melody in the world, dating to 1400BC. However, the oldest musical competition that has survived in its entirety is Seikilos Epitaph’, which was found engraved on a marble column used to mark the graveside of a Turkish woman. The composition, which is a Greek tune, dates to the first century AD.
Exploring some of the world’s earliest musical instruments would then take you on a trail that dates back at least 35,000 years. So, music is far from new but the different genres developed have newer origins in terms of their development.
The Classical Era in terms of Western art music is considered to be the period from the 1750s through to the early 1820s. The time when the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Joseph Hayden were composing their music.
To mix things up, we shall consider rock music next. One of the greatest rock songs of all time is considered to be Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”. Followed by the Beatles’ “Hey Dude”, which is surprising, as many may think of it as more of a ballad.
When we think of rock music, we invariably think of Rock ‘n Roll and Bill Haley and His Comets or Elvis Presley, The King of Rock ‘n Roll. This particular style of music, dating back to the 1950s, is defined as popular dance music that has a simple melody and a heavy beat. The style is a combination of black R&B and white Country music. There will most often be a 12-bar structure to it, and instrumentation consisting of guitars, a double bass, and beats from a drummer.
So, who should we credit with the invention of Rock ‘n Roll? Well, we have Chuck Berry to thank, although similar music was likely to have surfaced anyway. He was considered to be the first rock guitarist and very much a part of the action as this new genre came about.
In terms of pop influencers, we have Michael Jackson as the King of Pop, Justin Bieber as the Prince of Pop (or King of Teen Pop), Taylor Swift as the Queen of Pop, and Britney Spears as the Princess of Pop. Some of these more recent titles are likely to swap around as different artists are voted as best representing the pop genre.
Musician Elton John will often cross over into rock, while Madonna has also been known for her dance music and electronica. They both represent pop primarily because their music is popular in terms of a wider audience, as pop stands for.
Originating in Jamaica in the late 1960s is Reggae. It is a form of music based on Ska that uses a heavy four-beat drum-driven rhythm, along with electric and bass guitar. Also, a stick is known as a “scraper”. This is a corrugated stick that is rubbed against a plain stick to produce a distinctive sound.
Bob Marley is a name many people will associate fondly with this musical genre. Many may not know that he was a palm reader before entering the reggae scene. So, I guess that he should have been able to predict how popular he would become.
Bluegrass music has its roots in America. It was developed in the 1940s in the Appalachian region and gained its name from Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.
It is a sub-genre of Country music with characteristics that will distinguish it from what is classed as a mainstream Country. Bluegrass, for instance, has string-based instrumentation. The instruments that feature in this kind of music will be banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and upright bass. The emphasis is on the acoustic sound. The structures are complex but the music is free.
Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular forms of bluegrass. A large area to the west of the Kentucky hills in central Kentucky is often called the Bluegrass region.
In summing up, it is clear that music dates back a long way and that there are too many musical genres to mention them all. However, we hope that you have enjoyed this brief musical journey.