What is the definition of rock music?
Rock music was the most popular style of music for decades before hip-hop became prominent. It was driving, intense, energetic, and usually always loud. The rock genre, which has been dominating the airways for nearly 50 years, has given birth to dozens of sub-genres, ranging from delicate, lyrical folk-rock to the most savage forms of extreme death metal. It’s been played in everything from small bars to sold-out arenas, garages to concert halls, and it’s earned a name for itself around the world.
Because rock’s subgenres are so diverse, it is defined more by its overall aesthetic than by any specific musical features (though, as we will see in the following section, nearly all subgenres make use of electric guitars). Rock is defined by its overall aesthetic rather than any specific musical features. Rock is all about electrifying energy, particularly the youthful, rebellious spirit that propelled its founding fathers to fame. Although each generations of musicians have developed their own methods of harnessing that energy, the same spirit continues to motivate them all.
Rock’s distinctive musical characteristics
More than any other genre, rock is defined by a single instrument: the electric guitar, which is perhaps the most iconic of all. Electric guitars played a modest role in popular music prior to the advent of rock and roll, serving mostly as a backup instrument for massive jazz bands. However, by the early 1900s, they gained in popularity among blues performers and were increasingly common. The electric guitar was an excellent instrument for a small band because, by connecting it to an amplifier, guitarists could provide a loud enough sound to compete with drums and voices that had been mic’d up.
B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix, among other legendary guitarists, experimented with the distinctive sounds that electric guitars could produce. They didn’t simply utilise amplifiers to make their music louder; they also experimented with the tone and character of the instrument itself, treating electrified sound as if it were a separate instrument in and of itself. A classic Hendrix solo incorporated the scream of amplifier feedback, which would be hard to achieve with any other type of instrument, including an acoustic guitar. He also pioneered the use of distortion, popularly known as “fuzz,” which has become synonymous with the sound of rock guitar.
Diverse sub-genres of rock are highly different from one another in terms of musical style – they employ a variety of different scales, rhythms, and tempos – yet there are certain similar threads that run through them. The pentatonic scale, a bare-bones scale derived from blues music, is the dominant scale in most rock and roll. By just strumming the minor pentatonic scale on a distorted electric guitar, even the most inexperienced guitarist may produce an introductory rock sound. That sound can be employed in any of the various subgenres of rock music and not sound out of place in any of them.