Ancestry: History: 20th Century: Music:


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It was the advent of the radio, which led to the increasing types of music genres that arose throughout the 20th century. As the radio became more prevalent so did the music and the radio would not have become as popular if it was not for the ability to record sounds and replay them later. This technology allowed one to record a song and have that same recording played all over the country at different times without the need of the artist being present at the broadcasting station and as a result music took a whole new turn during the 20th century.

This new technology which just seems to keep pushing forward at ever increasing speeds has allowed people to express who they are through the music they listen to. All of this first started with the Thomas Edison’s Phonograph, from there Reginald Aubrey Fessenden who was born in Canada and came to work for Edison for a short period would be the first to broadcast voice over radio. The rest as one would say, “Is history”.

By the 1930’s radios were becoming more popular as well as more readily available. Along with the increased availability of the radio there was also an influx in people’s likes and dislikes in the types of music that they would want to listen to.

The beginning of the 20th century of course included the classical types of music that at the time were still very popular. The only real question is as to whether these were popular simply for the fact that many people enjoyed listening to it, or was it popular for the simple fact that there were no other choices readily available. Regardless of the reasons, classical music was still a popular choice and today it still is. The concept of contemporary classical music qualifies under the same genre except for the fact that the music was written after the 1960’s.

Throughout times, one genre of music that survived all the way through the 20th century and is still popular today is that of folk music. While most folk music generally started to falter through the early 1900’s, by the 1960’s with the Vietnam War at hand, folk music made a huge comeback with the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, The Mamas and The Papas as well as Peter, Paul and Mary.

It was in the 1930’s when bluegrass made its debut with names like Earl Scruggs as well as Lester Flatt, it quickly grew in popularity in several distinct regions throughout the U.S. As bluegrass grew in popularity, so did the blues. At a time when there was serious racial tensions in the United States, the blues was developed much like that of bluegrass and including genres like that of jazz and even ragtime bands.

By the mid-1900’s, popular music, or pop music as it is now called began to make its statement around the world. Much of the concept of pop music is attributed to folk music, African-American culture as well as singers like Frank Sinatra. Pop music would then be split into a second genre known as pop-art. Groups and artists that would eventually fall under the genre of pop-art were that of Billie Holiday, Frank Zappa as well as the Sex Pistols'.

Alternative rock, or alt-rock as it is also known grew from what was understood as underground rock music in the 1980’s. These groups started the craze known as the garage band and started to produce their own genre of rock. Alternative rock paved the way for future genres like grunge and new wave. Groups that qualify as alt-rock bands include names like The Cure, Nirvana, as well as The Velvet Underground.

The genre of country music is not as old as some might think as it was Jimmie Rodgers as well as the Carter Family who started the country music genre back in 1927. Country music maintained some great popularity throughout the early 1900’s but slowly began to degrade and new genres became available, even today it is not uncommon for someone to listen to country music as well as one form or another of various rock genres.

As the genre of country music took its hold on the nation, Jazz too became a popular choice and although not as popular or widely available today, many people are big time jazz fans and have their own little private collection which they will pull out from time to time.

As an off-spin of the blues, by the 1950’s the rock and roll generation made its way across the globe. Rock music was technically the first type of music that would be recorded in a studio prior to it being performed live and led the way for future genres. It is often said that rock and roll is the technological music genre.

Progressive rock spun off from rock and roll and incorporates things like jazz, classical music as well as other complex instrumentations. Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Genesis as well as Yes all recorded progressive rock songs.

Punk rock has its roots in the 1970’s but it was not really until the 1980’s that it would become one of the most popular forms of music in the 20th century. Groups like the Ramones, the Sex pistols as well as the Clash constitute as punk rock bands. There have been many spin-offs from punk rock into other genres as well.

The 1960’s brought forth the Jamaican reggae music which is derived from traditional ska of the early 1900s. Reggae made its way first into Britain before making its way to the U.S. There are many well known reggae groups as well as not so famous. Names like Bob Marley, UB40 as well as the infamous British Judge Dread who on many occasions was banned from British radio for his sexual innuendos in his music, are what made reggae even more popular throughout the world.

With names like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, you know that the genre being discussed is that of soul music. Soul music is part of the wide range genre known as R&B or rhythm and blues and made its biggest impact during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Not to be confused with funk music and names like James Brown or George Clinton, funk made its debut with sharp rhythm guitars and deep bass.

From Latin America you get the salsa music which is aptly named for its saucy as well as tasty music. This is also quite often confused with that of swing especially in the case of New York’s Little Havana.

Hip hop and rap music have since surpassed any type of music world wide popularity speaking. Starting in the late 1970’s hip hop grew and began to spin off into a number of different genres including old-school, new-school as well as gangsta rap.

Hip hop music is traditionally composed of two main elements: rapping (also known as MC'ing, a vocal style involving rapid speech with alliteration, assonance and rhyming) and DJing, and arose when disc jockeys (DJ's) began isolating and repeating the percussion break from funk or disco songs. Depending on the source, Hip Hop started in the late seventies or early eighties in African-American neighbourhoods such as Brooklyn and Bronx. Hip Hop was originally seen as a fad, but has become one of the most successful modern music genres.

Subgenres/periods of history in Hip Hop include: Old school hip hop, New school hip hop, the so called "Gangsta rap", Underground hip hop, Alternative hip hop and Crunk/Snap music. At the turn of the 20th Century, in the United States and increasingly in the rest of the World, Hip Hop became extremely popular in the mainstream, possibly eclipsing Rock music. Hip Hop has an associated culture which has become very prominent in western popular culture.

Starting in the 1970’s disco music made its grand entrance with its up tempo beats. The genre’s name is derived from the French word meaning a nightclub, discothèque. Disco music made way for the electronic music of the late 20th century and further made headway for the new age music genre.

As time continues to progress, one will see that cross genre music will begin to become popular. By the late 20th century, from time to time you could hear a rap or hip-hop recording artist teaming up with a country music artist to do a cross genre album. This trend will continue well throughout the 21st century and all that you have to do now is to sit back and enjoy it; or even become part of it.

Original Authors: Nick (Globel Team)
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 28/07/2008

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