The History of Rock Music – Book Review

During the fifties and later, vital, energetic, and rebellious youth produced their own music in contrast to traditional music, becoming a target for censors and conservatism. When I saw this book with an Elvis-like drawing on its cover, I had to pick it up, because it reminded me of the times when most of us in my generation were, musically speaking, in love with Elvis and his successors.

The type of music called rock music sprung up from peacetime America but was adopted by the youth through the entire world. Although it started as an act of a rebellion, rock music became the governing music form for the next few decades, eventually turning into a customary music genre and leaving its throne of rebellion to other types of music. Rock music involves a vocal melody accompanied by musical instruments such as guitars, drums, and keyboard instruments.

When rhythm and blues met country music, rock music was born. The book, “The History of Rock Music,” gives this type of historical information alongside with the biographies of and information about famous rock stars who determined and shaped the course of rock music from early on. In addition to the musicians, Dick Clark with his television show “American Bandstand” promoted the rock music and coerced its respectability by the general population.

Among the earlier artists mentioned are Little Richard, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Woodie Guthrie, and Bob Dylan, and from the sixties on come the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Motown, Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. Later, when hard rock surfaced, its representatives became Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and Black Sabbath. From seventies on, singer-songwriters came into the music scene like Jackson Browne, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell.

The book not only gives information about music groups and presents several features from actual history, but it also provides details on the instruments and the evolution of rock music trends to the end of the nineties, from before Elvis’s time to Curt Cobain’s grunge.

“The History of Rock Music” is a volume from the Masters of Music Series, in hardcover and 64 pages, with ISBN-10: 0764151371 and ISBN-13: 9780764151378.

The author, Andrea Bergamini, has written other books on music like Beethoven and the Classical Age, Music of the World, and Le rock. Also, a great deal of appreciation goes to the book’s illustrator, Ivan Stalio, who has illustrated numerous volumes such as: The Atlas of World Religions, Adapting to the Environment, The Animal Atlas, The History of Technology, Life Cycles, Mammals, and Plants.

With its large pages filled with bright photos, graphics, and illustrations, this young adult book is a delightful book to read and enjoy for people of all ages.

Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music Review

I just recently finished reading the book, Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music. I’m kind of mad at myself for waiting so long to read it. It’s been in the “to read” pile for a long time and I just got around to reading it. It’s a fantastic look at the evolution of music over the past 20 years or so. From the rise of indie bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes, to Prince’s record label, to mp3’s and the “pay what you want” model introduced by Radiohead and NineInch Nail’s Trent Reznor.

I can’t honestly say that I remember much about my 7th grade history class. I couldn’t even tell you my teacher’s name, let alone what we “learned” that year. The one thing that I do remember is that there was a banner hanging above the chalk board. It read, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

If you are going to be a musician today, then you need to understand how the music industry has changed so that you can try to figure out where it’s headed. Sure it’s great to know about the writers in Tin Pan Alley from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s; it’s important to understand radio’s role in the emergence of popular music and how payola controlled that; it’s important to know that the first video ever aired on MTV was The Buggle’s “Video Killed The Radio Star” (seriously think about that for a minute).

In the last 20 years, the music industry has changed more than it has in nearly its entire existence. Or, certainly in this century. The current music industry that we operate in is still changing at a rapid pace. There’s speculation on the extinction of CD’s within 2-3 years, there’s been a major resurgence in vinyl (who saw that coming?!), the major record labels as we knew them may cease to exist within 5 years, mp3’s and file sharing are now a good thing and a major source of world-wide distribution (what?!).

Greg Kott’s “Ripped” is one of the most fascinating books on current music history I’ve ever read. He jumps right in with the first chapter about the major consolidation that all of the big 5 (at that time there were 5 major record labels, as opposed to the 2 1/2 there are now). This was a huge shift in the record industry at the time. It scared a lot of artists and put a lot of people out of work.

Greg does a great job in detailing the consolidation of the majors, the rise of indie bands, the fight against and for sampling on hip-hip records and new mashup records and artists, Prince’s record label and his do-it-yourself approach, the rise of mp3’s and the fall of Napster and the “pay what you want” model that Radiohead started with “In Rainbows,” that Trent Renzor “improved” upon.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I want you to be able to enjoy this book. It isan enjoyable book. It discusses in detail the many things that have happened over the past two decades that have changed the face of the music industry dramatically.

You can read each chapter as a vignette about each band or person or aspect of the industry. But when taken as a whole, “Ripped” reads more like a cautionary tale with a hopeful ending.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Tonal Music Book Review

Are you a lover of music, I do not mean to ask you if you like music, most everyone does and most everyone has specific tastes, but there is a lot more to music than just listening. Perhaps you’d like to learn more about its structure, and how to analyze it? If so, let me recommend a very good book to you:

“Form in Tonal Music” by Douglas M. Green; Holt, Rinehart and Winston Publishing Company Incorporated; New York, NY; 1965; ISBN: 0-03-46015-7.

This book takes the confusion out of the typical study of music analysis, as it simplifies harmony and counterpoint disciplines, allowing the student to understand how to construct without over loading with historical music tunes and famous names. Knowing the music without confusion first, is the aim of this book, and thus, maybe it is a good first read, prior to music analysis from a historical perspective. I think I’d recommend it to just about any serious music student.

The book has chapters on the basics of form, shape, genre and harmonic structure of the phrase, along with developing, and combining phrases. Then the book, which is written very much like a text book discusses the various analytical methodologies. The student will learn of variations, ternary forms, rondo, sonata (very comprehensive), and binary forms.

The concerto movement, fugue, and similar genres are discussed and then there is a final chapter, which is very fascinating, even proves that Green really knows his stuff, as he goes into the unique forms of structure. You will be fascinated by the amount of information and ways you can apply this knowledge when you are completed.