What is Rock Music? (with pictures) (2023)

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Kathy Hawkins

Kathy Hawkins Last Modified Date: November 10, 2022

Rock music, sometimes also known as "rock and roll," is a style of music that became popular in the 1950s in America and Europe. It is primarily based on older musical styles, such as the rhythm and blues music originated by African American performers such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard, with a heavy focus on guitar, drums, and powerful vocals.

One of the earliest and most famous performers in the early days of rock was Elvis Presley, who shocked the world with his suggestive dancing and powerful music. He became an instant phenomenon, and led the way for many other performers over the decades to come. In the 1960s, the Beatles were another hugely successful and popular rock music group, also inspired by rhythm and blues songs and by the work of other early British rock performers, such as Cliff Richard.

(Video) Kid Rock - Picture feat. Sheryl Crow [Official Music Video]

Guitarist playing an acoustic guitar.

Over the years, rock music has branched out into a wide variety of styles. Folk rock, such as that made popular by Bob Dylan in the 1960s, often featured acoustic guitars and socially conscious lyrics, many with anti-war sentiments. Psychedelic rock, such as that played by the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and the Doors, featured often dissonant music that was heavily influenced by the use of drugs such as LSD. Progressive rock bands, such as the Moody Blues, Rush, and Yes, experimented with a wide range of instruments, and often included improvisational musical solos that could last for 10 or even 20 minutes.

Fans at a rock concert.

Rock has also led the way for other music forms, such as heavy metal, which features extreme guitar sound and heavy distortion. Some of the earliest bands that could be classified as heavy metal are Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Both bands started out in the mid-1970s. Their heavy form of music has paved the way for other heavy metal bands, including Metallica and Megadeth.

The development of the electric guitar in the mid-20th Century directly led to the creation of the "classic" rock sound.

Today, the term "rock music" is used to refer to a wide range of musical forms, including anything from soft pop to heavy metal. The name has essentially become a default term for any style of music that does not automatically fit into another category, such as R&B, country, or classical. The form has changed significantly since the days of Elvis Presley, but the term can still refer to his songs as easily as they can refer to more recent bands like Nirvana or Pearl Jam.

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Discussion Comments

anon331954

I am 12 years old and have had the enormous benefit of being born into a blues and rock family, so I grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana during the day,

and B.B King and Muddy Waters to go to bed. I just love the energy and the feeling you get from these genres.

ZsaZsa56
I have a 12 year old son and I have been trying to introduce him to some of the music that I loved in the 60s and 70s. He is pretty resistant and seems to like nothing but metal and dubstep.

I think for him the music of my time sounds soft. What I have been trying to explain to him is that it was new, and for us it seemed impossibly tough and heavy. He doesn't get the context. But I guess I can't blame him much, the stuff he likes sounds pretty bad to me too.

jonrss
I have a friend that has a very elaborate and complex theory that punk rock is a direct descendant of the blues.

We work together and he talks about it constantly. he makes a pretty good case though. I am always urging him to write something up, or to at least put together a mix that he thinks illustrates the progression.

shell4life
I like pop songs that include rock elements. I love the sound of electric guitar, and I think it really adds an edge to a pop song.

When an artist who normally sings to dance music invites a rock musician to play one of her songs, the result is something powerful. Quite often, songs like these become big hits.

(Video) Kid Rock - Only God Knows Why [Official Music Video]

healthy4life
I find it amusing that the world was so shocked by Elvis when he first started. If those very same people could see what rock musicians today do on stage, they would faint from embarrassment!

The way that Elvis danced and sang is actually very mild when compared to the suggestive dances and lyrics of modern bands. People say that it all started with Elvis, but I don't think it's fair to blame him for the perverse behavior of artists decades down the road.

lighth0se33
@Perdido – It seems that the decade when you are growing up is usually the decade from which your favorite music comes. See, I grew up in the nineties, so I hated eighties music.

I loved grunge, because it was all I knew, other than a scattering of pop songs that got radio airplay in with the grunge. When we're young, we tend to listen to what is current, unless we have an older music aficionado around to introduce us to other stuff.

Perdido
I'm not a big fan of 70s rock music. I think that's because I was born in 1978, so I can't associate any memories with the songs of the 70s.

However, I am crazy about 80s rock music. I get aggravated when critics refer to rock bands from this era as “hair bands.” Yes, they teased and permed their hair and wore lots of makeup, but that had no bearing on their sound, which was excellent.

I think that 80s rock was the pinnacle of rock music. Once the 90s arrived and brought depressing grunge bands, rock music suffered greatly. Some say that grunge gave music a much needed change, but I say it was the death of rock music.

anon216025

I've been asking the same question myself, and have decided it's pretty subjective really. I had a really good look through the archives of Classic Rock Magazine and they talked about every one from AC/DC (obviously rock) to Phil Collins - not very rock and roll in my opinion!

anon153668

is rock music better than country music? if so how? please help.

anon119310

what do people think about how rock music has changed? help please.

(Video) Kid Rock Ft Sheryl Crow Picture [Lyrics]

StreamFinder

Where can I find free 70s rock music? That is the total peak of rock for me, the late 1970s, and I wish that I could find more of it.

My local library doesn't really have anything besides 90s pop/rock music, and I really want to listen to some classic rock.

Besides youtube, are there any site that stream it for free?

gregg1956

For me, most of the so-called "rock" music today is just a rock/pop hybrid. Music has come such a long way since Elvis, through the Beatles, Stones, and everyone else that it's natural for the feel of the genre to have changed, but I really think that most of the old rockers would be ashamed to go to some of the "rock" music concerts today.

Luckily we can still catch the good, classic rock music performances online, thanks to youtube and things like that -- otherwise we'd be pretty stuck for genuine, down to earth rock'n'roll.

galen84basc

What a great summary for such a huge genre. I mean, you included everything from pop/rock music to 80s hard rock music, which is quite the span of genres.

Good for you for not getting caught up in one aspect -- this is an enormous topic, I mean, there are whole books written on really narrow aspects of rock music alone. I once saw a 500 page book on 1970s female rock music, for crying out loud!

(Video) Relaxing Whiskey Blues Music - Great Slow Blues, Rock Ballads Songs - Whiskey Blues Compilation

I think that for the space you had, you did an awesome job with this topic.

anon16483

How does 'Emo Rock' come into the picture?

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    FAQs

    What is rock music defined as? ›

    Rock music, also called rock and roll, rock & roll, or rock 'n' roll, is a form of popular music that emerged in the 1950s and is defined as “a form of music with a strong beat”—it is difficult to be much more explicit about it.

    What are the main characteristics of rock music? ›

    Rock music first emerged in the late 1940's. As a general description, the genre can be described as hard-edged music, performed with electric bass, electric guitar, drums and a vocalist and an injection of high volume and distortion and flamboyant performance.

    What are examples of rock songs? ›

    • 'Purple Haze' by Jimi Hendrix. ...
    • 'Whole Lotta Love' by Led Zeppelin. ...
    • 'Sympathy for the Devil' by The Rolling Stones. ...
    • 'Under Pressure' by Queen & David Bowie. ...
    • 'Baba O'Riley' by The Who. ...
    • 'Comfortably Numb' by Pink Floyd. ...
    • 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. ...
    • 'Funk #49' by the James Gang.
    4 Nov 2022

    How can you describe rock and roll? ›

    Rock and roll has been described as a merger of country music and rhythm and blues, but, if it were that simple, it would have existed long before it burst into the national consciousness.

    What is rock in simple words? ›

    [ rŏk ] A relatively hard, naturally occurring mineral material. Rock can consist of a single mineral or of several minerals that are either tightly compacted or held together by a cementlike mineral matrix. The three main types of rock are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. A piece of such material; a stone.

    How do you identify rock music? ›

    Rock music is defined by rhythm, not melody. Rock is in 4/4 time with the heavy beats being 2 and 4. Rock and roll in the '50s has exactly this in common with all of your "sub-genres" that you consider to be "rock" today. It's that simple.

    What defines hard rock music? ›

    Hard rock music is a subgenre of rock and roll that features soaring vocals, loud, rhythmic electric guitar, strong drums, and bass guitar.

    How do you describe a rock band? ›

    A rock band is a small ensemble of musicians who perform rock music. Rock bands may include a variety of instruments, but the most common configuration is a 4-part band consisting of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums. The lead vocalist may just sing, or play an instrument as well.

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