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On the History of Rock Music

Yvetta Kajanová

On the History of Rock Music follows the development of rock music from its origins up to the present time. It focuses on the relationship between the sound, improvisations and rhythms in particular styles, and gives specific attention to the development of rhythm. The beat-offbeat principle, polyrhythms and polymetrics are fundamental to rock rhythm patterns, which serve as archetypes for specific rhythms. An archetype is a prototype, a model, or an innate experience of a species. Using more than 250 score examples, the author identifies the characteristic rhythmic patterns in rock styles, ranging from rock and roll, hard rock and punk rock to alternative rock, indie rock and grind core.
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The Rhythm of Rock

← 12 | 13 → The Rhythm of Rock


is the use of the shuffle rhythm in jazz. This means that the same rhythmic values (for example 8 eighth notes in 4/4 metre) can be played in jazz music with subtle shifts and these digressions enhance the relaxed feel of the music, its essence and easiness. Conversely, rock musicians accentuate the beat precisely, with the pulse still being on the second and fourth beat, or on the third.

The musical ideas of both jazz and rock were formed by the development of rhythmical and polyrhythmical patterns. The essential factors in creating rock patterns are dotted rhythm, the movement in triplets, and syncopation. These components came from European folk and stylised dances, were transformed into ← 13 | 14 → country music and domesticated American saloon music, and then into rhythm and blues and jazz. From there, they were imported into rock. While the rhythm of rock can easily be assimilated into the European perceptions of metre and its values, especially in its early stage, the perception of jazz rhythm is outside the European understanding of metre. In this sense, therefore, the traditional 2/4 and 4/4 metres are replaced by free interpretation of 2-beat or 4-beat metres. In rock, rhythmic patterns of the different styles, created by musicians, are incorporated into the traditional 2/4 and 4/4 meters. Thus, a metre that appears as 2/4 or 4/4 can be perceived ambiguously, either as a 3-beat metre or 6/8 metre, even though the pattern still gives the impression of a 2-beat or 4-beat...

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