As the world closes its doors to recover from viral disturbances, I have decided to use the time to add to my online outpourings and delve deeper into the world of popular music and its history, beginnings and developments throughout the 20th century, in the vain hope that my musings will themselves become viral and spread out across the internet!
There has, of course, always been popular music. Music is one of the most natural forms of artistic creation available to us on this planet – not just for us humans, but also for a great number of living beings around the globe. Simple rhythms make up languages and other forms of interaction and melodies can be found throughout all species on Earth, not only for mere communication purposes, but also for “fun”.
Music has always accompanied events where people gather in groups – from casual sing-songs to religious services, work songs to background music in malls, gladiatorial games to epic film scores – popular music is everywhere in our lives.
The history of modern popular music is also the history of recorded music, in other words, the recording industry. From the early days of wax cylinders, musicologists were able to record everything they could find, giving us an insight into a hitherto undiscovered world of music. Recordings of original slave song, improvised psalmody from remote Scottish islands, tribal music from distant Polynesian rainforests exist in museum archives. Thanks to the steady development of recording technique and the introduction of digitization, we are able to travel back in time to enjoy these marvels of a long-forgotten world.
Something that regularly crops up is a kind of natural rhythm and melody. To cut a very long story short, it could be said that a few simple building blocks have been used in practically all forms of popular music since the earliest days of mankind. As the worldwide population spread and increased across the globe, these building blocks evolved, giving us a myriad of musical “flavors” from different cultures. Through trading, wars, slavery and migration, these flavors mingled and developed further. The growth of the western world drew many influences together. The musical history of the United States, for example, is a melting pot of musical styles.
In the USA, particularly in the southern states, slave trade and immigration brought together African and European cultures. After the turbulent times in the 1860s, cultures were increasingly able to mix and it didn’t take long for the world of music to develop significantly – African rhythms met European melodies – musical instruments from all areas of the globe developed and players taught themselves to play them – drums, string instruments, brass and wind instruments – you name it, they played it!
Back to our building blocks of music – by bringing all these elements together, we saw the birth of a new form of music – mainly improvised – the Blues. The history of the Blues is another chapter altogether, but as the style developed and grew, we can start to see the beginnings of our current popular music styles. Blues, Ragtime, Boogie-Woogie, Rock and Roll, Pop, Rap, even Techno – they all come from the same place.
Today’s video is an introduction to the world of Boogie Woogie on the piano. Without BW or 12 bar blues, there would be no Rock and Roll. Without R&R, there would be no Beatles, Beach Boys, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson or Rolling Stones. Without them, there would be no Abba or Bee Gees, no Britney Spears or Spice Girls (however wishful that may be!), no Snoop Dogg, no Eminem, no Fatboy Slim, no Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Sam Smith, James Blunt…..
Hard to imagine, isn’t it!