As audiences dwindled and playing professionally in bands became less possible it took certain changes to keep music styles alive and kicking. Funnily enough the attempt to keep the jazz and rhythm and blues styles alive actually ended up causing an entirely new genre. These were the earliest stages of rock ‘n’ roll. There are several claims to who the initial pioneer of the genre might have been but I believe in actuality the style was birthed out of both the need to adapt the genre and the efforts of many of the people that were doing so. Each of these contenders deserve recognition in their own right, as with its precursor genres rock ‘n’ roll is once again a product by the many.
Like I say, there were many artists who helped define this genre. Chuck Berry is certainly a major influence, in particular his creative use of the electric guitar. He developed new tones by taking a two-note lead line usually played on piano prominently in the jump blues style and transposed this for his guitar. It’s now instantly recognisable as a rock guitar style. Another pioneer for the music was the artist known as Fats Domino. His song The Fat Man is considered one of the earliest popular songs in the genre, it features the rolling piano that he became so well known for along with the use of vocalised wah-wahs performed over a solid backbeat which later became the norm. There were many more excellent musicians involved, people like Jerry Lee Lewis, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Little Richard and Bo Diddley all adding their own unique elements that rounded off rock ‘n’ roll.
Without the many artists involved we wouldn’t have gotten the genre, but that wasn’t the only factory that caused this new shift in the dynamic of music. Another major influence on the style was the recent technological advances in the industries which helped nurture new sounds. It was the time in which electric guitars and amplifiers first hit the scene, this helped create the sound that has since become absolutely synonymous rock ‘n’ roll. The microphone was also a relatively new revelation as well as the 45rpm record. Recordings were becoming more available not just to artists but to the listener and new radio stations with far more niche audiences were becoming common place across America. It was because of all these things that rock ‘n’ roll really began to take shape not just as a genre but also as a sort of ideology. It became a hit with young and relatively affluent white audiences, at the time this would have been where both the money and the general focus would have been for record companies and as such it began to take off in a big way.
There are so many factors that make a genre, it’s like a machine with countless moving parts. It’s ever changing, spawning off new styles and new categories in turn. It’s about new technologies, new ideologies, adaptation and a mixture of cultural sounds that create something brand new. Without that mixture of cultures music today would be very different and likely nowhere near as exciting.