Rock emerged through the combination of rhythm and blues, gospel and country
music. The terms Jass and Rock and Roll were black American slang for sex. Both
genres were dance music, featuring strong danceable rhythms. Jazz evolved into
many overlapping genre and became more technical, intellectual... musician's
music. RR had no pretentions to musical sophistication and became rooted within
the dictates of the commercial recording industry, pop charts and fans. Some
suggest that jazz remained adult music and rock and roll appealed to teenagers
and young adults. In the best case, rock bands with more diversified and
talented musicians moved in the direction of jazz bands and some moved to long
pieces with more symphonic-style orchestration.
For a brief period in the 1960's a few rock and roll bands, including Bob
Dylan in his rocker reincarnation with The Band led the protest against racial
injustice in the US and the terrible depredations of the US military in Vietnam.
I recall with considerable affection the music of Three Dog Night, Country Joe
and the Fish, Credence Clearwater Revival and the Eagles. The Fish Cheer,
I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag, Have You every Seen the Rain were anthems of
the era. Folk singers also developed the social conscience of their audiences.
Joan Baez lead anti-war protests. Buffy St Marie witnessed wounded soldiers
returning from Vietnam and wrote the now famous song "Universal Soldier"
released on the album, It's My Way in 1964. Musicians who are well established
in one musical genre usually face criticism and degrees of rejection when they
move in another direction. Bob Dylan, for example, switched abruptly from folk
music to a rock and roll, electric band style, suffering angry criticism in the
See Folk Music
The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll revealed that the editors had
a hard time deciding who was in and out of the RR genre. They included popular
singers who sang ballads that became hits with only tinges of RR noise. Even
Phillip Glass was included, but his quiet, thoughtful music is the opposite of
RR. The rock and roll hall of fame lists 500 RR songs. Their selection includes
such diverse performers and styles you wonder what really is the essence of RR?
For me, the most important distinction requires noticing the difference
between music and noise. You could argue that rock and roll happens when bunch
of people plug in their electric guitars, distortion pedals, microphones and
make a lot of noise. Add some strobe lights and stage smoke and you are sure
it's authentic RR. RR has evolved into a variety of subcategories, many of which
feature shouting and other loud noises, odd costumes, body piercing, tatoos and
antics that appeal to young niche groups with peculiar interests. There is a
primitive sexual basis for most RR expressions.
Rolling Stone's JON PARELES reviewed the CMJ Music Marathon (NYT October 22,
2008) that featured concerts for more than 1,100 acts, most of them indie-rock
with some hip-hop, bluegrass, funk and world music. Pareles Stated:” Sometime in
the mid-2000s, the words indie-rock and blog became inseparable. Both are the
province of self-starters, innovators, collectors, early adopters, volunteers
and cranks… Some bands offered the kind of cleverly allusive music that bloggers
convince themselves they enjoy, like would-be pop contenders …with love-struck
lyrics, disco beats, U2 guitars and shrill falsetto vocals. And some were an
out-and-out blast with whooping high vocals, galloping drums and frenetically
consonant guitar crescendos in songs that veered between simple punk thrills and
meter-shifting, guitar-meshing complexities."
In the Persona Recordings catalogue, arrangements of popular songs originally
played by RR bands are included. These classics are notable for having good
melodies, and meaningful lyrics. If there was a tendency to noise in the
original, the drummer was usually responsible, the second most guilty musician
tended to be an electric guitarist who used his distortion pedal and pitch
bending lever too aggressively. The third most common RR noise makers were
vocalists who shouted into the mike instead of singing. My strategy as an
arranger and then as the studio engineer is to eliminate noise by giving the
drummer some musical rules to follow. Sometimes, I commit RR heresy and leave
the drums out altogether. The essential rhythms of an RR tune are created by the
bass guitar, a rhythm guitar and electronic piano. I sometimes create rhythm
parts with marimba, vibraphone and congo drums.
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Born on the Bayou
Gold Dust Woman
Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll. Fireside Press. Third edition 2001
andBillboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. Flame Tree Publishing 2003.
Persona Music Recordings: Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances
under the titles Persona Digital, P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort. Music online is offered to illustrate music history, advance music education and appreciation. The recordings presented online demonstrate Persona
Studio's arranging, recording and mastering techniques. All the recordings are
arrangements and performances completed in house by Stephen Gislason using
multitrack MID recording. The music selections and their history
are explained in the book, Sound of Music.
Persona Digital publishesa series of books on current topics in
music, psychology, neuroscience and philosophy. eBooks can be downloaded to any
destination on the planet.
Topics presented at Persona Digital Studio are from the
The Sound of Music by
Stephen Gislason Click Download to order the eBook