Category Archives: Music

Folk Music

Folk music includes both traditional music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th century folk revival. The term originated in the 19th century, but is often applied to music older than that. Some types of folk music are also called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by customover a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. Starting in the mid-20th century, a new form of popular folk music evolved from traditional folk music. This process and period is called the (second) folk revival and reached a zenith in the 1960s. This form of music is sometimes called contemporary folk music or folk revival music to distinguish it from earlier folk forms. Smaller, similar revivals have occurred elsewhere in the world at other times, but the term folk music has typically not been applied to the new music created during those revivals. This type of folk music also includes fusion genres such as folk rock, folk metal, electric folk, and others. While contemporary folk music is a genre generally distinct from traditional folk music, in English it shares the same name, and it often shares the same performers and venues as traditional folk music.

From a historical perspective, traditional folk music had these characteristics:

  • It was transmitted through an oral tradition. Before the 20th century, ordinary farm workers and factory workers were usually illiterate. They acquired songs by memorizing them. Primarily, this was not mediated by books, recorded or transmitted media. Singers may extend their repertoire using broadsheets, song books, or CDs, but these secondary enhancements are of the same character as the primary songs experienced in the flesh.
  • The music was often related to national culture. It was culturally particular; from a particular region or culture. In the context of an immigrant group, folk music acquires an extra dimension for social cohesion. It is particularly conspicuous in immigrant societies, where Greek Australians, Somali Americans, Punjabi Canadians, and others strive to emphasize their differences from the mainstream. They learn songs and dances that originate in the countries their grandparents came from.
  • They commemorate historical and personal events. On certain days of the year, such as Easter, May Day, and Christmas, particular songs celebrate the yearly cycle. Weddings, birthdays, and funerals may also be noted with songs, dances and special costumes. Religious festivals often have a folk music component. Choral music at these events brings children and non-professional singers to participate in a public arena, giving an emotional bonding that is unrelated to the aesthetic qualities of the music.
  • The songs have been performed, by custom, over a long period of time, usually several generations.

As a side-effect, the following characteristics are sometimes present:

  • There is no copyright on the songs. Hundreds of folk songs from the 19th century have known authors but have continued in oral tradition to the point where they are considered traditional for purposes of music publishing. This has become much less frequent since the 1940s. Today, almost every folk song that is recorded is credited with an arranger.
  • Fusion of cultures: Because cultures interact and change over time, traditional songs evolving over time may incorporate and reflect influences from disparate cultures. The relevant factors may include instrumentation, tunings, voicings, phrasing, subject matter, and even production methods

In folk music, a tune is a short instrumental piece, a melody, often with repeating sections, and usually played a number of times. A collection of tunes with structural similarities is known as a tune-family. America’s Musical Landscape says “the most common form for tunes in folk music is AABB, also known as binary form”. In some traditions, tunes may be strung together in medleys or “sets.”

Musical Scale

In music theory, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch. A scale ordered by increasing pitch is an ascending scale, and a scale ordered by decreasing pitch is a descending scale. Some scales contain different pitches when ascending than when descending, for example, the melodic minor scale. Often, especially in the context of the common practice period, most or all of the melody and harmony of a musical work is built using the notes of a single scale, which can be conveniently represented on a staff with a standard key signature. Due to the principle of octave equivalence, scales are generally considered to span a single octave, with higher or lower octaves simply repeating the pattern. A musical scale represents a division of the octave space into a certain number of scale steps, a scale step being the recognizable distance (or interval) between two successive notes of the scale. However, there is no need for scale steps to be equal within any scale and, particularly as demonstrated by microtonal music, there is no limit to how many notes can be injected within any given musical interval.

A measure of the width of each scale step provides a method to classify scales. For instance, in a chromatic scale each scale step represents a semitone interval, while a major scaleis defined by the interval pattern T–T–S–T–T–T–S, where T stands for whole tone (an interval spanning two semitones), and S stands for semitone. Based on their interval patterns, scales are put into categories including diatonic, chromatic, major, minor, and others. A specific scale is defined by its characteristic interval pattern and by a special note, known as its first degree (or tonic). The tonic of a scale is the note selected as the beginning of the octave, and therefore as the beginning of the adopted interval pattern. Typically, the name of the scale specifies both its tonic and its interval pattern. For example, C majorindicates a major scale with a C tonic. Scales are typically listed from low to high pitch. Most scales are octave-repeating, meaning their pattern of notes is the same in every octave (the Bohlen–Pierce scale is one exception). An octave-repeating scale can be represented as a circular arrangement of pitch classes, ordered by increasing (or decreasing) pitch class. For instance, the increasing C major scale is C–D–E–F–G–A–B–[C], with the bracket indicating that the last note is an octave higher than the first note, and the decreasing C major scale is C–B–A–G–F–E–D–[C], with the bracket indicating an octave lower than the first note in the scale.

The distance between two successive notes in a scale is called a scale step. The notes of a scale are numbered by their steps from the root of the scale. For example, in a C major scale the first note is C, the second D, the third E and so on. Two notes can also be numbered in relation to each other: C and E create an interval of a third (in this case a major third); D and F also create a third (in this case a minor third). Scales can be abstracted from performance or composition. They are also often used precompositionally to guide or limit a composition. Explicit instruction in scales has been part of compositional training for many centuries. One or more scales may be used in a composition, such as in Claude Debussy’s L’Isle Joyeuse. To the right, the first scale is a whole tone scale, while the second and third scales are diatonic scales. All three are used in the opening pages of Debussy’s piece.

Ska Music

Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off-beat. Ska developed in Jamaica in the 1960s when Prince Buster, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems to play American rhythm and blues and then began recording their own songs. Some suggest ska dates to earlier times, however. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods. Later it became popular with many skinheads. Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s; the 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s in Britain, which fused Jamaican ska rhythms and melodies with the faster tempos and harder edge of punk rock; and the third wave of ska, which involved bands from the UK, other European countries (notably Germany), Australia, Japan, South America and the United States, beginning in the 1980s and peaking in the 1990s.

There are multiple theories about the origins of the word ska. Ernest Ranglin claimed that the term was coined by musicians to refer to the “skat! skat! skat!” scratching guitar strum. Ranglin asserted that the difference between R&B and ska beats is that the former goes “chink-ka” and the latter goes “ka-chink“. Another explanation is that at a recording session in 1959 produced by Coxsone Dodd, double bassist Cluett Johnson instructed guitarist Ranglin to “play like ska, ska, ska”, although Ranglin has denied this, stating “Clue couldn’t tell me what to play!” A further theory is that it derives from Johnson’s word skavoovie, with which he was known to greet his friends. Jackie Mittoo insisted that the musicians called the rhythm Staya Staya, and that it was Byron Lee who introduced the term “ska”. Derrick Morgan said: “Guitar and piano making a ska sound, like ‘ska, ska,”

The first ska recordings were created at facilities such as Studio One and WIRL Records in Kingston, Jamaica with producers such as Dodd, Reid, Prince Buster, and Edward Seaga. The ska sound coincided with the celebratory feelings surrounding Jamaica’s independence from the UK in 1962; an event commemorated by songs such as Derrick Morgan’s “Forward March” and The Skatalites’ “Freedom Sound”.

Until Jamaica ratified the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the country didn’t honor international music copyright protection. This created a large number of cover songs and reinterpretations. One such cover was Millie Small’s version of the R&B/shuffle tune, “My Boy Lollypop” first recorded in New York in 1956 by 14 year old Barbie Gaye. Smalls’ rhythmically similar version, released in 1964, was Jamaica’s first commercially successful international hit. With over seven million copies sold, it remains one of the best selling reggae/ska songs of all time. Many other Jamaican artists would have success recording instrumental ska versions of popular American and British music, such as Beatles songs, Motown and Atlantic soul hits, movie theme songs and surf rock instrumentals. The Wailers covered The Beatles’ “And I Love Her”, and radically reinterpreted Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. They also created their own versions of Latin-influenced music from artists such as Mongo Santamaria.


An orchestra  is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which mixes instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as violin, viola, cello and double bass, as well as brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments, each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments. A full-size orchestra may sometimes be called a symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra. The actual number of musicians employed in a given performance may vary from seventy to over one hundred musicians, depending on the work being played and the size of the venue. The term chamber orchestra (and sometimes concert orchestra) usually refers to smaller-sized ensembles of about fifty musicians or fewer. Orchestras that specialize in the Baroque music of, for example, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, or Classical repertoire, such as that of Haydn and Mozart, tend to be smaller than orchestras performing a Romantic music repertoire, such as the symphonies of Johannes Brahms. The typical orchestra grew in size throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, reaching a peak with the large orchestras (of as many as 120 players) called for in the works of Richard Wagner, and later, Gustav Mahler.

Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance with movements of the hands and arms, often made easier for the musicians to see by use of a conductor’s baton. The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo and shapes the sound of the ensemble. The conductor also prepares the orchestra by leading rehearsals before the public concert, in which the conductor provides instructions to the musicians on their interpretation of the music being performed. Amateur orchestras include those made up of students from an elementary school or a high school, youth orchestras, and community orchestras; the latter two typically being made up of amateur musicians from a particular city or region. The typical symphony orchestra consists of four groups of related musical instruments called the woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings (violin, viola, cello and double bass). Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes be grouped into a fifth section such as a keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and electric and electronic instruments. The orchestra, depending on the size, contains almost all of the standard instruments in each group.

In the history of the orchestra, its instrumentation has been expanded over time, often agreed to have been standardized by the classical period and Ludwig van Beethoven’s influence on the classical model. In the 20th century, new repertory demands expanded the instrumentation of the orchestra, resulting in a flexible use of the classical-model instruments and newly developed electric and electronic instruments in various combinations.


Rapping is a musical form of vocal delivery that incorporates “rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular”, which is performed or chanted in a variety of ways, usually over a backbeat or musical accompaniment. The components of rap include “content” (what is being said), “flow” (rhythm, rhyme), and “delivery” (cadence, tone). Rap differs from spoken-word poetry in that rap is usually performed in time to an instrumental track. Rap is often associated with, and is a primary ingredient of hip-hop music, but the origins of the phenomenon predate hip-hop culture. The earliest precursor to modern rap is the West African griot tradition, in which “oral historians”, or “praise-singers”, would disseminate oral traditions and genealogies, or use their formidable rhetorical techniques for gossip or to “praise or critique individuals.” Griot traditions connect to rap along a lineage of Black verbal reverence that goes back to ancient Egyptian practices, through James Brown interacting with the crowd and the band between songs, to Muhammad Ali’s quick-witted verbal taunts and the palpitating poems of the Last Poets. Therefore, rap lyrics and music are part of the “Black rhetorical continuum”, and aim to reuse elements of past traditions while expanding upon them through “creative use of language and rhetorical styles and strategies. The person credited with originating the style of “delivering rhymes over extensive music”, that would become known as rap, was Harlem, New York native, Anthony “DJ Hollywood” Holloway. Rap is usually delivered over a beat, typically provided by a DJ, turntablist, Beatboxer, or performed A capella without accompaniment. Stylistically, rap occupies a gray area between speech, prose, poetry, and singing. The word, which predates the musical form, originally meant “to lightly strike”, and is now used to describe quick speech or repartee. The word had been used in British English since the 16th century. It was part of the African American dialect of English in the 1960s meaning “to converse”, and very soon after that in its present usage as a term denoting the musical style. Today, the term rap is so closely associated with hip-hop music that many writers use the terms interchangeably.

There are two kinds of freestyle rap: one is scripted (recitation), but having no particular overriding subject matter, the second typically referred to as “freestyling” or “spitting”, is the improvisation of rapped lyrics. When freestyling, some rappers inadvertently reuse old lines, or even “cheat” by preparing segments or entire verses in advance. Therefore, freestyles with proven spontaneity are valued above generic, always usable lines. Rappers will often reference places or objects in their immediate setting, or specific (usually demeaning) characteristics of opponents, to prove their authenticity and originality.

Battle rapping, which can be freestyled, is the competition between two or more rappers in front of an audience. The tradition of insulting one’s friends or acquaintances in rhyme goes back to the dozens, and was portrayed famously by Muhammad Ali in his boxing matches. The winner of a battle is decided by the crowd and/or preselected judges. According to Kool Moe Dee, a successful battle rap focuses on an opponent’s weaknesses, rather than one’s own strengths. Television shows such as MTV’s DFX and BET’s 106 and Parkhost weekly freestyle battles live on the air. Battle rapping gained widespread public recognition outside of the African-American community with rapper Eminem’s movie 8 Mile. The strongest battle rappers will generally perform their rap fully freestyled. This is the most effective form in a battle as the rapper can comment on the other person, whether it be what they look like, or how they talk, or what they wear. It also allows the rapper to reverse a line used to “diss” him or her if they are the second rapper to battle. This is known as a “flip”. Jin The Emcee was considered “World Champion” battle rapper in the mid-2000s.

Rap music has become associated with the social stigma surrounding mental illness, as the rap culture has heavily criticized mental illness. However, there has been an increase in rappers who are publicly speaking out about their mental health.

R&B Music

Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B or RnB, is a genre of popular African-American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when “urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat” was becoming more popular. In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, saxophone, and sometimes background vocalists. R&B lyrical themes often encapsulate the African-American experience of pain and the quest for freedom and joy. The lyrics in this genre of music focus heavily on the themes of triumphs and failures in terms of relationships, freedom, economics, aspirations, and sex.

The term rhythm and blues has undergone a number of shifts in meaning. In the early 1950s it was frequently applied to bluesrecords. Starting in the mid-1950s, after this style of music contributed to the development of rock and roll, the term “R&B” became used to refer to music styles that developed from and incorporated electric blues, as well as gospel and soul music. In the 1960s, several British rock bands such as the Rolling Stones, The Who and The Animals were referred to and promoted as being RnB bands; posters for The Who’s residency at the Marquee Club in 1964 contained the slogan, “Maximum R&B”. This tangent of RnB is now known as “British rhythm and blues”. By the 1970s, the term rhythm and blues changed again and was used as a blanket term for soul and funk. In the 1980s, a newer style of R&B developed, becoming known as “Contemporary R&B”. It combines elements of rhythm and blues, soul, funk, pop, hip hop and dance. Popular R&B vocalists at the end of the 20th century included Prince, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey.

Although Jerry Wexler of Billboard magazine is credited with coining the term “rhythm and blues” as a musical term in the United States in 1948,[11] the term was used in Billboard as early as 1943. It replaced the term “race music”, which originally came from within the black community, but was deemed offensive in the postwar world. The term “rhythm and blues” was used by Billboard in its chart listings from June 1949 until August 1969, when its “Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles” chart was renamed as “Best Selling Soul Singles”. Before the “Rhythm and Blues” name was instated, various record companies had already begun replacing the term “race music” with “sepia series”. In 2010 LaMont Robinson founded the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame Museum.

Writer and producer Robert Palmer defined rhythm & blues as “a catchall term referring to any music that was made by and for black Americans”. He has used the term “R&B” as a synonym for jump blues. However, AllMusic separates it from jump blues because of its stronger, gospel-esque backbeat. Lawrence Cohn, author of Nothing but the Blues, writes that “rhythm and blues” was an umbrella term invented for industry convenience. According to him, the term embraced all black music except classical music and religious music, unless a gospel song sold enough to break into the charts.[14] Well into the 21st century, the term R&B continues in use (in some contexts) to categorize music made by black musicians, as distinct from styles of music made by other musicians.

In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, and saxophone. Arrangements were rehearsed to the point of effortlessness and were sometimes accompanied by background vocalists. Simple repetitive parts mesh, creating momentum and rhythmic interplay producing mellow, lilting, and often hypnotic textures while calling attention to no individual sound. While singers are emotionally engaged with the lyrics, often intensely so, they remain cool, relaxed, and in control. The bands dressed in suits, and even uniforms, a practice associated with the modern popular music that rhythm and blues performers aspired to dominate. Lyrics often seemed fatalistic, and the music typically followed predictable patterns of chords and structure.

Dangdut Music

Dangdut is a genre of Indonesian folk and traditional popular music that is partly derived from Hindustani, Malay, and Arabic music. Dangdut is a very popular genre in Indonesia because of its melodious instrumentation and vocals. Indonesians dance in somewhat similar to the ghoomar while listening to dangdut music, but in a much slower version. Dangdut features a tabla and gendang beat. Dangdut really has strong Indian music influence from the basis of harmony, instrument, beat, and rhythm. One of the most populous Dangdut musicians and singers such as Rhoma Irama, known as the King of Dangdut; Mansyur S.; Meggy Z; and Ellya Khadam include strong Indian-music influence in the basis of harmony, theme, and beat to their songs and also by other popular dangdut singers also. Dangdut is very popular throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and other Malay-speaking lands. A dangdut band typically consists of a lead singer, male or female, backed by four to eight musicians. Instruments usually include a tabla, gendang, flute, mandolin, guitars, sitar, drum machines, and synthesizers. The term has been expanded from the desert-style music to embrace other musical styles. Modern dangdut incorporates influences from Middle Eastern pop music, Western rock, house music, hip hop music, contemporary R&B, and reggae. The popularity of Dangdut peaked in the 1990s. By 2012, it was mostly popular in the western parts of Indonesia and not in the eastern parts, apart from Maluku.

The term dangdut is a Javanese language onomatopoeia for the sound of the tabla (also known as gendang) drum, which is written dang and ndut. It was reportedly coined by music magazine Aktuil, although Rhoma Irama stated that it was coined as a term of derision by the rich to the music of the poor. Despite its derogatory intent, it was seized upon by those playing it, and the term appears in Rhoma’s 1973 dangdut classic Terajana:

Sulingnya suling bambu – The flute, a bamboo flute
Gendangnya kulit lembu – The drum, from cow hide
Dangdut suara gendang rasa ingin berdendang – Dangdut’s drum sound makes you want to sing

Dangdut as a term distinguished the music of Javanese from the Orkes Melayu of North Sumatran Malays.

Besides orkes Melayu, the primary musical influence on dangdut was Indian Bollywood music. The song “Terajana” pays homage to the 1959 Bollywood hit “Tera Jana Ke,” and though dangdut is primarily written in the Indonesian language, respect was paid to the Indian influence. The next verse of “Terajana” is as follows:

Terajana… Terajana – Terajana, Terajana
Ini lagunya… lagu India – This is the song, song of India

Orkes Melayu singer Ellya Khadam switched to dangdut in the 1970s, and, by 1972, she was the number-one artist in Indonesia. Her success, with that of Rhoma Irama, meant that by 1975, 75 percent of all recorded music in Indonesia was of the dangdut genre, with pop bands such as Koes Plus adopting the style.

Most major cities, especially on Java, have one or more venues that have a dangdut show several times a week. The concerts of major dangdut stars are also broadcast on television. Beginning in 2003, certain dangdut musicians became the focus of a national controversy in Indonesia regarding performances by singer Inul Daratista which religious conservatives described as pornography. Protests led by dangdut megastar and devout Muslim Rhoma Irama, called for Daratista to be banned from television, and legislation was passed in 2008 by the People’s Consultative Assembly that introduced a broad range of activities described as pornography.

The flamboyant performances at some dangdut shows also attracted collateral attention in May 2012 when a row broke out in Indonesia over a planned performance by international star Lady Gaga in Jakarta due to be held in early June 2012. In the face of opposition from conservative Muslim groups in Indonesia, the planned show was cancelled. This cancellation led numerous commentators to note that opposition to Lady Gaga’s performances was surprising given the nature of some dangdut shows. Dangdut remains an integral part of Indonesian life and pop culture despite conservative Muslim concerns over the supposed vulgarity of some performances. Because the popularity of the genre, some movies and TV show have dangdut-centered themes, such as Rhoma Irama’s movies and Rudy Soedjarwo’s Mendadak Dangdut.

Jazz Music

Jazz is a music genre that originated in African American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African American and European American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Although the foundation of jazz is deeply rooted within the black experience of the United States, different cultures have contributed their own experience and styles to the art form as well. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as “one of America’s original art forms”.

As jazz spread around the world, it drew on different national, regional, and local musical cultures, which gave rise to many distinctive styles. New Orleans jazz began in the early 1910s, combining earlier brass-band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation. In the 1930s, heavily arranged dance-oriented swing big bands, Kansas City jazz, a hard-swinging, bluesy, improvisational style and Gypsy jazz (a style that emphasized musette waltzes) were the prominent styles. Bebop emerged in the 1940s, shifting jazz from danceable popular music toward a more challenging “musician’s music” which was played at faster tempos and used more chord-based improvisation. Cool jazz developed in the end of the 1940s, introducing calmer, smoother sounds and long, linear melodic lines.

The 1950s saw the emergence of free jazz, which explored playing without regular meter, beat and formal structures, and in the mid-1950s, hard bop emerged, which introduced influences from rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing. Modal jazz developed in the late 1950s, using the mode, or musical scale, as the basis of musical structure and improvisation. Jazz-rock fusion appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s, combining jazz improvisation with rock music’s rhythms, electric instruments, and highly amplified stage sound. In the early 1980s, a commercial form of jazz fusion called smooth jazz became successful, garnering significant radio airplay. Other styles and genres abound in the 2000s, such as Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz.

Jazz has proved to be very difficult to define, since it encompasses such a wide range of music spanning a period of over 100 years, from ragtime to the 2010-era rock-infused fusion. Attempts have been made to define jazz from the perspective of other musical traditions, such as European music history or African music. But critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt argues that its terms of reference and its definition should be broader, defining jazz as a “form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of the Negro with European music” and arguing that it differs from European music in that jazz has a “special relationship to time defined as ‘swing'”, involves “a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role” and contains a “sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician”. In the opinion of Robert Christgau, “most of us would say that inventing meaning while letting loose is the essence and promise of jazz.”

Although jazz is considered highly difficult to define, at least in part because it contains so many varied subgenres, improvisation is consistently regarded as being one of its key elements. The centrality of improvisation in jazz is attributed to influential earlier forms of music: the early blues, a form of folk music which arose in part from the work songs and field hollers of the African-American slaves on plantations. These were commonly structured around a repetitive call-and-response pattern, but early blues was also highly improvisational. European classical music performance is evaluated by its fidelity to the musical score, with much less discretion over interpretation, ornamentation, and accompaniment: the classical performer’s primary goal is to play a composition as it was written. In contrast, jazz is often characterized as the product of group creativity, interaction, and collaboration, which places varying degrees of value on the contributions of the composer (if there is one) and performers. In jazz, the skilled performer will interpret a tune in very individual ways, never playing the same composition the same way twice; depending on the performer’s mood and personal experience, interactions with other musicians, or even members of the audience, a jazz musician may alter melodies, harmonies or time signature at will.

Rock Music

Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the African-American genres of blues and rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass and drums and one or more singers. Typically, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

By the late 1960s “classic rock” period, a number of distinct rock music subgenres had emerged, including hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, raga rock, and jazz-rock, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which was influenced by the countercultural psychedelic and hippie scene. New genres that emerged included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements; glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style; and the diverse and enduring subgenre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume, power, and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock reacted by producing stripped-down, energetic social and political critiques. Punk was an influence in the 1980s on new wave, post-punk and eventually alternative rock. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. Further fusion subgenres have since emerged, including pop punk, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock’s history, including the garage rock/post-punk and synth-pop revivals at the beginning of the 2000s (decade).

Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major subcultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the goth and emo subcultures. Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.

Rock music is traditionally built on a foundation of simple unsyncopated rhythms in a 4/4 meter, with a repetitive snare drum back beaton beats two and four. Melodies are often derived from older musical modes, including the Dorian and Mixolydian, as well as majorand minor modes. Harmonies range from the common triad to parallel fourths and fifths and dissonant harmonic progressions. Rock songs, since the late 1950s and particularly from the mid-1960s onwards, often used the verse-chorus structure derived from blues and folk music, but there has been considerable variation from this model. Critics have stressed the eclecticism and stylistic diversity of rock. Because of its complex history and tendency to borrow from other musical and cultural forms, it has been argued that “it is impossible to bind rock music to a rigidly delineated musical definition.”

Pop Music

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms “popular music” and “pop music” are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many styles. “Pop” and “rock” were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other. Although pop music is seen as just the singles charts, it is not the sum of all chart music. Pop music is eclectic, and often borrows elements from other styles such as urban, dance, rock, Latin, and country; nonetheless, there are core elements that define pop music. Identifying factors include generally short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), as well as the common use of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks.

Pop music has been dominated by the American and (from the mid-1960s) British music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture, but most regions and countries have their own form of pop music, sometimes producing local versions of wider trends, and lending them local characteristics. Some of these trends (for example Europop) have had a significant impact of the development of the genre.

According to Grove Music Online, “Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures”. Some non-Western countries, such as Japan, have developed a thriving pop music industry, most of which is devoted to Western-style pop. has for several years produced a greater quantity of music of everywhere except the USA. The spread of Western-style pop music has been interpreted variously as representing processes of Americanization, homogenization, modernization, creative appropriation, cultural imperialism, or a more general process of globalization. In Korea, pop music’s influence has led to the birth of boy bands and girl groups which have gained overseas renown through both their music and aesthetics. Korean co-ed groups (mixed gender groups) have not been as successful.

Characteristics of pop music include an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology, and an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal “artistic” qualities. Music scholar Timothy Warner said it typically has an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, rather than live performance; a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments; and aims to encourage dancing or uses dance-oriented rhythms.

The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half and three and a half minutes in length, generally marked by a consistent and noticeable rhythmic element, a mainstream style and a simple traditional structure. Common variants include the verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically, rhythmically and harmonically with the verse. The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment. The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple themes – often love and romantic relationships – although there are notable exceptions.