Two words; progressiveness and innovation, that is what the 60’s and 70’s is all about in terms of music. The decade saw a vast advancement in multiple genres and was introduced to many other sub-genres as well. So many of these changes in the musical scenery have influenced current pop-culture and goes down in history as some of the most important ‘relics’ in the annals of music.
The best part of the 60’s was the advancements in technology and the variety of contemporary styles that helped channel the same energy of rock and its subgenres for another 40 years after its dawn, while the 70’s musical scene absorbed a handful of genres and transformed it into a much broader palette of musical tastes filled with bits and pieces of every style, thus allowing a multitude of people to get a taste of the older and newer varieties of music and its deeper flavors.
Since the early 60’s most of the folk and jazz scenes were flourishing while pop ballads, reggae, soul and rock were on the rise. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees and The Yardbirds were some of the most popular groups to influence the rock music scene in the mid 1960’s; and in a few more years as the late 60’s approached, drugs were being rolled into the musical havens of the United States & the United Kingdom. Thus, the era of psychedelic music saw its first emergence with the works of Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors bursting into the musical scene with subtle and heavy distortions, swing timed drum beats, fuzz box effects, heavy influence of Eastern Classical music, extended instrumental solos with lyrics and performance graphics largely linked to the effects of hallucinogenic drugs and psychedelia. A good example of this was the wonderfully titled ‘I am The Walrus’, a 1967 single released by The Beatles. The song was created as a result of hallucinogenic acid trips and references from Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and The Carpenter” and Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. The single received mixed reviews but wholly garnered positive regard from fans and critics alike.
The 60’s also saw the introduction of multiple television programs such as the Top of The Pops, Shindig! and Hollywood a Go-Go which helped broadcast British and American music featuring live performances of bands, multiple interviews, first-time hearings and musical exhibitions consequently helping these bands obtain a large fan following globally.
Albeit the publishing, recording and broadcasting technology improved, the advancement of the musical scene in terms of innovation of style was slowing down. By 1968, hard-rock and metal started receiving some appreciation and a decent fan following, it was at this moment what contemporaries identify as the stepping stone into the 70’s music industry with the introduction to a large number of hard-rock, alternate rock, heavy metal, punk, synth-pop, pop, disco, shoegaze, soft rock, horror-punk, modern folk rock, funk, hip-hop and rap groups filled with another large number of rock sub-genres ranging from Glam-rock to Indie.
The 70’s could only be defined as a rainbow where there were so many genres and styles of music the flame of euphonious flow never died. As psychedelic music and early hard rock paved the way for newer artists to do something different with the sounds they produce, it was largely visible that the innovative skills of multiple sound engineers and rock artists were put to the test and it’s an understatement to say that they passed the test with flying colors.
Incorporating fast timed jazz music with slinky minor chords gave birth to Funk music. Adding Classical flair i.e., wind and string instruments to a standard rock beat with falsetto voices gave you Disco Fever. Heavy distortions and Wah-Wah pedals for the guitar with fast paced drumming and broken timing produced early Punk. Groovy and amplified rock riffs on major chord arrangements fixed with bass and standard percussion chemistry and use of rock organ/piano formed the world of Rock and some of its first derivatives such as Hard Rock, Ballad Rock etc.
Aside from Rock, certain artists such Queen, David Bowie and Elton John used a variety of other influences such as Country Music, Opera, Synth-pop and electronic synthesizer effect for voice and keyboard distortion to create a new wave of pop and rock leaning on the electrical side while also incorporating acoustic instruments.
One of the greatest attributes of the 70’s Rock ‘n’ Roll industry was the upbringing of a great many showmen who have graced the stage with a variety of electrical performances with dazzling costumes and graceful choreography. What set these artists apart from the rest was more than their musical ability or vocal range; it was the chemistry that each band member had with another that created these performances followed by the charisma and intimidating appeal of each of these artists-that did the job of making them some of the biggest names in their respective category.
The 70’s also saw an emergence in what is considered todays largest genres in contemporary music. Hip-hop and Rap. Hip-hop came about in the mid 70’s with the introduction of boom-boxes and turntable sets. The use of fast-paced reggae and singular utilization of bass and percussion helped set the introduction to hip-hop music, however at the time it did not garner a wide reception of fans worldwide but was well received by the African American community as it was a cheaper and a more resourceful way to create a new type of musical wave that would soon take the world by storm in another decade and a half. Soon, rap music was also created as a form of ‘singing’ to the hip-hop beat, where a premise was created by narrating words to a beat most suitably imitating the rhythm just like mimicking an instrument. This set-up was initially introduced by DJ Kool-Herc followed by Grandmaster Flash and later received well by the masses by the late 70’s with The Sugarhill Gang’s first rap hit ‘Rapper’s Delight’ which amassed a lot of praise and is widely considered as the first Rap sensation.
Moreover, the 60’s and 70’s were troubling times when it came to establishing a world order, the peace that was kept between nations died, and social tribulations soon followed. Racial qualms and aggression against political agendas soon created an environment that restricted the freedom of people’s thoughts and opinions. The music that was created within this time transcended the meaning of pop-culture and gave these movements and social upheavals a chance to stand on their feet against the indifferences they were facing. The people of that generation found a voice, they found power in the music they listened to. They felt a peace no other substance would give. They felt at home with every tune in their ear and tear in their eye, and mostly importantly music gave them a chance to believe in themselves and in a cause much greater than them.
What the earlier generations (at the time) perceived of this music as outlandish and outrageous, filled with ‘obscenities’ and indecent lyrics was only a call for freedom for youth. A voice to rebel against patriarchy and oppression. To live as one pleases, because the greatest creative liberation we will ever receive is if we make a noise that we find appealing, which most people call music. Ergo, music stands as a testament and as long as it exists; it remains perpetual, immemorial and never washed out in the sands of time.
“Glory as we know is bitter stuff”. Law student at The University of Adelaide. Nietzsche and Kant remain the sole beholders of existential truth.