The 20-th century is by all means considered to be the most influential period of time in the development of music. In the 20-th century there were more practising musicians than in all previous centuries taken together. In the 20-th century there was no mainstream but various styles in music. It is not an easy task to describe these music styles. They reflect the world that was constantly changing. Desires and fears of the people of the 20-th century found their outlet in music. The 20-th century opened a new era in the history of mankind, and the new epoch was to be described in new musical forms. The rules were left in the past. In the 20-th century everybody could choose the music that he would enjoy. It was exciting in its adventurous freedom.
In the 1920s in New Orleans beautiful music filled the streets and cafes. The black and poor singers sang about their hard lives. Their music - jazz, ragtime and blues - soon travelled to Europe. It was the time when the black music entered the whites' culture changing the lifestyle of the people all over the world. Ever since the 1930s music was not just a way to relax. From that time on music began to reflect and determine the people's way of life.
Many sub-cultures developed as a result of the fusion of black and white music cultures. Black music evolved in the Caribbean and in the United States, later it moved to Britain. Such styles as reggae, rap, hip-hop to say nothing of the blues were created by the black community. Today many white musicians either perform the black music or use the black melodies in creating their own songs.
In the 1940s and 1950s new styles of music emerged. Swing, rock'n'roll and singers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry destroyed the laws of morality that were imposed on the people by the Church for centuries. In the 1950s Elvis Presley became the king of rock 'n' roll in the United States of America. The new music travelled to Europe soon. It was especially popular among the teenagers. The parents were really shocked by "Devil's music" that their children adored. The young people disagreed with their parents, wore their jeans and danced to their rock 'n' roll records.
In the 1960s in Great Britain, in Liverpool a new band was created. It was soon to be known world-wide as the "Beatles". John Lennon and Paul McCartney were writing simple songs and performing them so brilliantly that they gave a new impulse for the development of the musical community. Other members of the famous group were George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Such songs as "Yesterday", "Let It Be", "Love Me Do", and "Yellow Submarine" made them the most popular band not only in England, but throughout the world as well.
From the British Isles their music quickly travelled to Europe, America and other continents. Early in 1964 what soon came to be called "Beatlemania" struck the United States. For the first time British pop music was important abroad. Such U.S. performers as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley admired the music of the "Beatles".
The long hair and tastes in dress of the musicians became popular in different countries. The freshness and excitement of the earliest days of rock 'n' roll and simple but engaging lyrics of John Lennon and Paul McCartney kept the group at the top of popularity charts for several years. They won recognition from the music industry in the form of awards for performances and songs. Soon they became not only popular, but rich as well. With the money they earned they could experiment with new musical forms and arrangements. The result was a variety of songs ranging from ballads to complex rhythm tunes and songs of social comment. Their music inspired hundreds to create new music.
In 1969 at Woodstock, near New York a great rock festival attracted nearly half a million young people. Most of them were hippies, who shocked the world with their beards, long hair, old jeans and their calls for peace and love. They came to listen to such new stars as Jimmy Hendrix and Joe Cocker. They sang about the war in Vietnam and about violence in the world. The music performed at Woodstock had a tremendous influence on the development of the culture of the youth. The young people rose in protest against the mercantile society. The ideals of the hippies are still living in many hearts. In the middle of the 1990s the Woodstock festivals were revived. But today Woodstock is no longer a great party it used to be in 1969. Young people who come to Woodstock today simply want to see the violent youth of their parents.
The mid-1970s witnessed great changes in the music. The gentle mood of the 1960s was gone. The music became violent and aggressive. This was a protest of the new generation, not peaceful pacifist protest of Woodstock, but protest aimed at the negation and destruction of the existing order. Hard rock, heavy metal and punk became popular among the young. Such groups as "AC/DC", "Kiss", "Black Sabbath", and "Sex Pistols" shocked the public by their music and behaviour. Although music of such kind still has its fans, the peak of its popularity has decreased.
Music that developed in the 1970s and 1980s had its own peculiarities. Melodies were simple and often unoriginal, different group would easily borrow the popular melodies written by competing groups. Young people would not listen alone to their favourite bands; they would rather have a get-together or a party or go to a disco club. The new music styles that appeared in the 1980s were aimed at dancing and disco clubs, thus rhythm and beat became more important than the melody.
Multiculturalism found its expression in the music. In the 1980s young people started to listen to different kinds of music and they were not afraid of choosing what they really loved. No single style or set of styles can be attributed to the 1980s and 1990s. The best world to characterise what was going on in the world of music at that time is diversification.
The epoch found its best expression in techno music. A British band "Depeche Mode" was the first to express the realities of a complex and constantly changing society through highly elaborate music. This was the music of technological advance and breakthrough, the message of the rhythm was the dependence of our civilisation on the machines that were able to do everything faster and better than humans do.
The 1990s witnessed further changes in the world of music. Pop music became extremely fashionable among young people. Madonna, Michael Jackson, and "Spice Girls", and "Backstreet Boys" give an example of what teenagers preferred to listen. At the same time a powerful opposition to the pop music appeared. Rave, techno, rap, chaos, and acid styles were gaining momentum in the 1990s. Young people who preferred this kind of music would never attend a pop show because of a general disgust and hatred for pop music.
The music of the 20-th century did a lot to change the outlook of the people, make peace, bring some positive social changes. It still plays a great role in the life of the people of the 21st century. Everything either happy or tragic that occurs in our life is set to music.
- What was typical of American music of the 20-th century?
- In the 20-th century the USA developed several distinctive and highly influential types of music: jazz, blues, country, and rock'n'roll. The most important performers were Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane in jazz; Muddy Waters in the blues, Hank Williams in country and western, and Elvis Presley in rock 'n' roll.
- Does music play an important role in the life of young people?
- Yes, it does. It even determines their life style and fashion. Teenagers try to imitate their favourite musicians in appearance, dress, and lifestyles. Hippies originally tried to imitate the "Beatles;" Hippies usually have long hair, they are dressed in torn clothes. People who prefer heavy metal would rather be dressed in leather and be richly decorated with decorations made of iron.
- What groups are popular in Russia now?
- Young people in Russia prefer different styles of music. Among the most popular groups are "Mumiy Troll", "Agatha Christie", "Tatoo", "Bee-2". At the same time many Russian teenagers have a special liking to the Ukrainian and Moldavian bands. In this context "Vopli Vidopliasova", "Ocean Elzi", and "Sdob Si Sdub" can be mentioned. Some of these bands perform in their native languages, while others sing in Russian. In either case Russian youth can easily understand a song in Ukrainian.
- What music do you like?
- In fact I can listen to almost any kind of music, my tastes range from classic music to heavy metal. At the same time there are certain styles of music that I prefer. I believe that music should be energetic, that is why I am fond of the German group "Scooter" that performs electronic music. They were extremely popular in our country in the late 1990s, although in the English speaking countries not many were aware of their existence. In 1999 the "Scooter" visited Russia and gave a concert in Moscow at "Olympiysky." This was a fantastic and unforgettable show. They performed all their best songs including their hit "How much is the fish?"
- What is your favourite band?
- As I have already mentioned there are many groups that I am fond of. A couple of years ago I preferred the "Scooter." I still like this group, but now I think that the band I like most of all is the "Savage Garden." This is an Australian group that started to perform in the 1990s. The members of the "Savage Garden" are Daniel Jones and Darren Hayes. My favourite song by the "Savage Garden" is "To the Moon and Back." It is very lyrical and inspiring. Their latest singles are "Chained to You" and "I Knew I Loved You".