Progression Of Music From The 1940

’s To The Present Essay, Research Paper

Progression of Music From the 1940’s To the Present

The progression of music from the 1940’s to the present has seen extremes,

it has been controversial at times, traditional at times and inspirational at

times, but never have the American people turned away music in its entirety.

There have been times when parents did not approve of the music that their

children chose to listen to, but the parents had never turned away music. Music

has been criticized and promoted. Since the 40’s music has progressed from

Ballads (which were still lingering around from the 30’s) to blues (popular

among Blacks) to rock and roll, to pop, and back again.

In the 1940’s ballads were popular. Ballads were dancable music

performed by big bands. They were composed of stringed instruments, wind

insteruments, and a singer or two. This was the time period when music started

to be broadcasted live over television and record albums were entering the home.


The 50’s marked a beginning for a new era of music to be known as Rock &

Roll. Many of the artists took advantage of the Electric guitar, developed for

popular music in the 1930’s but never really became popular until the 50’s.

Rock & Roll was a combination of many music styles in an upbeat sort of fashion.

One example of when country had an impact on Rock & Roll was with Bill Haley and

Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry’s career was huge, with his hits like “Whole Lotta

Shakin’ goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire”. That is, his career was huge,

until the it was made public that he fell in love with a married his 13 year old

cousin. In 1957 Rock & Roll had been turned upsidedown when Buddy Holly hit the

airwaves with “That’ll be the Day.” Buddy Holly rolled out hit after hit after

hit. That is, until his plane went down in Iowa. He died at the young age of 22.

That night his music was playing non-stop and has not stopped playing to this


The blues and gospel of James Brown and Jackie Wilson was popular with the

black community. “Someday, maybe someone will discover the reason that Chuck

Berry, Do Diddley, Fats Domino, and Little Richard never connected with black

audiences” (25 years,p15). This may be because they might have almost been

embarrassed from their blues roots.

In the 60’s such stars as Chubby Checker became popular through Dick

Clark. Chubby Checker also became popular though his dance called “The Twist”.

Folk music was among popular music for a brief period time. Around 1962 Surfin

music started in California when the Beach Boys were formed. The Beach Boys

released hit after hit starting with “Surfin USA” in 1963 and “Fun, Fun, Fun” in

1964. Along with The Beach Boys were a group of two known as Jan & Dean. They

also produced Surfin Music hits such as “Sidewalk Surfin’” and Dead Man’s Curve.

The sixties also introduced the British Invasion to America. Groups

like “The Yardbirds” and Zombies could be heard everywhere. At the head of this

British invasion was a group known as “The Beatles” There hits like “I want to

hold your hand”. They broke up in 1970 and all pursued solo careers or in their

own band. Many people requested that they have reunions, but those requests

basically stopped with the death of John Lennon, a member of the Beatles, was

murdered in 1980. “The Rolling Stones” were formed in 1962 and very much

contrasted the Beatles softer sound. The Rolling Stones were a more energetic

type of American rhythm and Blues.

In the 70’s The electric guitar became more experimental with the

different sounds that it could produce. “The change began in 1968. By 1970 the

change in direction of rock music was cemented. No longer were life-or-death

rock riffs the order of the day. Groups like Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Band,

and Creedence Clearwater Revival suggested a return to country roots, a search

for a simpler time.” (25 years,p60)

Disco returned in 1974. Everything went wild when ” Saturday night

Fever” introduced a new type of dancing and music. The new form of disco hit

the floors with “The Bee Gees” They kept the anger of original Rytheme and

Blues and created very upbeat material. Very popular among disco was Gloria

Gaynor. She sang the message of the new movement:

I won’t crumble,

I won’t lay down and die,

I will survive.

During this disco period Rock & Roll is some how still staying alive.

When the mid 70’s rolled around disco fell behind and new type of rock

became popular. This new type included artist such as Alice Cooper and

AeroSmith. The new rock had a punkish industrial twist to it and always put on

large extravagant concerts.

In the 80’s the synthesizer became big with such groups as “The

Eurythmics”. The new groups of the 80’s revolutionized disco and transformed it

to todays techno. Synthesizers are insteruments usually in a piano format that

can manipulate sounds into any desired fashion. The 80’s also brought around

many teen idols such as Bon Jovi, Madonna, and Paula Abdul.

In the 90’s or present day, the synthesizer is still being used in dance

and techno music. Also introduced into the 90’s was the computer. The computer

has been around a while, but not been used in the music industry. Today just

about anyone can produce their music using this tool. Also metal has become

more aggressive, popular and contains political lyrics. Lite rock has also

developed and has captured the ears of many listeners.

Music has progressed from fun to an industry in itself. People can now

earn a living off of music, often luxurious life. Along with the music

progressing the American people have progressed. The world of music continues

to change and may never stop progressing until the world stops progressing.


25 Years of Rock & Roll (USA:Lorelei Publishing Co. Inc.,1979)

William Hay, Twentieth-Century Views of Music History (USA:Berne



25 Years of Rock & Roll. USA:Lorelei Publishing Co. Inc.,1979

Ewen, David. American Popular Songs. New York:Random House, 1966

Hay, William. Twentieth-Century Views of Music History. USA:Berne Convention,


Wilder, Alec. American Popular Song New York:Oxford University Press, 1972


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