The Different Forms Of Music

The Different Forms Of Music (Common to America and Europe)

Music has been around for centuries and there has gradually been a change in what is acceptable to the public. For instance, rock and roll would be outrageous to the Victorians, but that is going back a hundred years, whereas twenty years ago, punk would be unmentionable.

Music played on instruments is known to have been around about three thousand years B.C., the instruments being stringed. Until about the eighteenth century, music had been played by soloists or small groups of musicians, but about that time, a composer must have had the idea of forming a large group of musicians, and writing pieces of music for all of them. Orchestras were probably thus born, and were used to play music only, until someone invented operas around the early years of the nineteenth century.

With the invention of records, songs that were famous from operas, could be recorded and thus singers with a musical backing could be heard in wealthy houses all over the country. Singers were to be backed for some time by big bands and orchestras, but singers were not the main attraction until about the thirties, when films produced musicals and singing stars like Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and others. It was about nineteen-fifty before the small groups of four or five musicians were to become very popular, and this, of course, has led to the groups of today.

Jazz in America was a growing industry. It started from the negroes on the plantations singing blues, and led to the large bands, such as Duke Ellington band. The pop music of today is descended from jazz, possibly because some jazz bands gradually got smaller until there were only four or five musicians. A composer somewhere would have experimented with different rhythms and rock and roll would have evolved. This of course became the era of the Teddy Boy, but this died out with the coming of skiffle, made famous by people like Lonnie Donegan.

From skiffle emerged small groups with a couple of guitars and a drummer. This was of course the sixties era and the Beatles. Following the sixties came the seventies, with the four man groups, who played rock’n’roll, following the Beatles’ tradition until, in nineteen-seventy-six, someone had the bright idea that you do not have to sing in tune to make records.

The category ‘pop’ covers a wide range of subjects which includes soul and reggae, which is the blues modernised, punk or new wave, but it comes to the same thing, and heavy metal rock, played at a hundred decibels. Pop these days though, means anything that gets into the record charts, so brass bands could be included in this category.

One form on ‘pop’ that does not get into the charts very often is folk music. Pop, incidentally, is a shortened version of the word popular. Folk music goes back many years and is songs about life, that have been handed down from generation to generation, without necessarily being written down. Sea-shanties can also come under the heading of folk music.

Country and Western, which is always associated with America, started in the nineteenth century with the cowboys, who sat around camp fires, plucking at guitars and making up songs. Cowboys were not the only people to start country and western, though, also helping to originate it were the mountain men, the Hillbillies, who lived in rough wooden huts on the side of mountains.

Since ‘pop’ and ‘popular’ have now become two different things, it is necessary to explain popular music. Popular is associated with the years from about the twenties to the fifties, even though jazz was in ‘full swing’ in those years. This form of music was sung by a man, or woman, but never usually a group. Singers associated with this era are the famous Bing Crosby, as mentioned before, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, whose songs became famous through films. Popular music is still on the go, the most recent one that could be classed as popular being ‘At the Copa Cabana’ by Barry Manilow.

Music, therefore, spans thousands of centuries, but is all connected in some way, and never does an era of music come to a standstill without some form following it that is connected to it. And who knows what the next trend will be after punk?

Teacher’s Comments

This is an excellent piece of work. It is interesting and informative, well planned and well written. Congratulations!

(c) M. Robert Gibson
Written 1978-09-13
This is a school essay.
It was written well before the internet. It is full of inaccuracies and assumptions; bad punctuation; bad grammar and a woeful lack of research, but, it is also a first draft. It was also hand-written in an exercise book, none of your fancy electronic gizmos back then.
And don’t forget, it was written by a schoolboy in a time before political correctness.
It is published here for purely selfish vanity reasons, so read it at your own peril and do not expect any great revelations.

The reason this is here is because it was marked 9.5/10 and apparently the only reason it wasn’t given 10 was ‘nobody gets a 10 for essays’