Thursday, September 5, 2013

More On Musical Influences

In my last post about musical influences I zeroed in on the more creative, progressive artists that were working to change the musical landscape of the day, at least the ones that had the most impact on me. Another style of music that also helped me form some strong ideas about rock music in general is the hard rock/heavy metal genre. Early hints at what was to come were songs like "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf and Blue Cheers bombastic cover of Eddie Cochranes "Summertime Blues". As the sixties neared it's end the airwaves were broadcasting the sounds of Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and other acts that were using distorted guitars and a heavy beat to drive the music into new territory. Around this time, and into the early 70's the heavy metal genre began to emerge with Black Sabbath arguably showing the way for many bands to come. Led Zeppelin was considered to be in this genre at first, due the some of the songs on their first two albums, songs like "Heartbreaker" and "Bring it on Home", but as the decade wore on they proved to their fans that they had an acoustic side and were more experimental. Having said that though, Black Sabbath employed a fairly progressive song writing ethic, that gave their music a different feel, even though they rarely strayed form the heavy rock sound of high volume bass, guitar and drums. To give this some context(music theory alert!), throughout the early days of rock and roll, the 50's, 60's and even a lot of the 70's, quite a few rock musicians in general were using a songwriting formula based on the blues 12 bar chord progression which usually relied on the same 3 chords, the "one"-"four"-"five" chords of a given scale. This has been widely used in many genres of music, country, some light jazz, blues, as mentioned and a lot of pop hits from back then. Once Black Sabbath broke the mold, even though they were not the first band to create music without this formula, more heavy metal artists took this direction and rode it to new heights as the 70's played out. Over the course of the decade we saw the emergence of more and more heavy metal acts, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Rush and many more, and even though many of them did resort to the 12 bar/3 chord formula for some songs, most of this music was breaking new ground in the hard rock world. Other bands worthy of mention here are Nazareth, The Scorpions and Deep Purple. As the 1980's unfolded heavy metal took some unexpected turns that saw the rise and fall of "glam rock" and the emergence of "nu metal", a faster, harder, more aggressive approach to heavy metal ushered in by bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. Terms like "speed metal" and "death metal" began to fracture the genre into several different genres again. It was around this time that I began to lose interest in the hard rock/heavy metal world, not because I didn't think it was good music, just because I was growing a little older and my tastes were changing. Tune in for more musical insights in the future.

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