Music of the United States
The music of the United States reflects the country's multi-ethnic population through a diverse array of styles. Rock and roll, country, rhythm and blues, jazz, and hip hop are among the country's most internationally-renowned genres. The United States has the world's largest music industry and its music is heard around the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some forms of American popular music have gained a near global audience.
Much of modern popular music can trace its roots to the emergence in the late 19th century of African American blues and the growth of gospel music in the 1920s. The African American basis for popular music used elements derived from European and indigenous musics. The United States has also seen documented folk music and recorded popular music produced in the ethnic styles of the Ukrainian, Irish, Scottish, Polish, Hispanic and Jewish communities, among others.
The music of the United States can be characterized by the use of syncopation and asymmetrical rhythms, long, irregular melodies, which are said to "reflect the wide open geography of (the American landscape)" and the "sense of personal freedom characteristic of American life". Some distinct aspects of American music, like the call-and-response format, are derived from African techniques and instruments.
The United States is often said to be a cultural melting pot, taking in influences from across the world and creating distinctively new methods of cultural expression. The most distinctly American musics are a result of cross-cultural hybridization through close contact. Slavery, for example, mixed persons from numerous tribes in tight living quarters, resulting in a shared musical tradition that was enriched through further hybridizing with elements of indigenous, Latin and European music.
Blues is a combination of African work songs, field hollers and shouts. It developed in the rural South in the first decade of the 20th century. The most important characteristics of the blues is its use of the blue scale, with a flatted or indeterminate third, as well as the typically lamenting lyrics; though both of these elements had existed in African American folk music prior to the 20th century, the codified form of modern blues (such as with the AAB structure) did not exist until the early 20th century.
Jazz is a kind of music characterized by swung and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Though originally a kind of dance music, jazz has been a major part of popular music, and has also become a major element of Western classical music. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Jazz's roots come from the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, populated by Cajuns and black Creoles, who combined the French-Canadian culture of the Cajuns with their own styles of music in the 19th century. Large Creole bands that played for funerals and parades became a major basis for early jazz, which spread from New Orleans to Chicago and other northern urban centers.
Country music is primarily a fusion of African American blues and spirituals with Appalachian folk music, adapted for pop audiences and popularized beginning in the 1920s. String instruments like the ukulele and steel guitar became commonplace due to the popularity of Hawaiian musical groups in the early 20th century.
The most influential country musician of the era was Hank Williams, a bluesy country singer from Alabama. He remains renowned as one of country music's greatest songwriters and performers, viewed as a "folk poet" with a "honky-tonk swagger" and "working-class sympathies".
R&B, an abbreviation for rhythm and blues, is a style that arose in the 1930s and 1940s. Early R&B consisted of large rhythm units "smashing away behind screaming blues singers (who) had to shout to be heard above the clanging and strumming of the various electrified instruments and the churning rhythm sections". The first contemporary R&B stars arose in the 1980s, with the funk-influenced singer Prince, dance-pop star Michael Jackson, and a wave of female vocalists like Tina Turner and Whitney Houston. In the 2000s contemporary R&B has produced many of the country's biggest pop stars, including Mariah Carey, Usher and Jennifer Lopez.
Soul music is a combination of rhythm and blues and gospel which began in the late 1950s in the United States. It is characterized by its use of gospel-music devices, with a greater emphasis on vocalists and the use of secular themes. The 1950s recordings of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and James Brown are commonly considered the beginnings of soul.
Rock and roll is a kind of popular music, developed out of country, blues and R&B. Rock's exact origins and early influences have been hotly debated, and are the subjects of much scholarship. Rock and roll first entered popular music through a style called rockabilly, which fused the nascent sound with elements of country music. Black-performed rock and roll had previously had limited mainstream success, but it was the white performer Elvis Presley who first appealed to mainstream audiences with a black style of music, becoming one of the best-selling musicians in history, and brought rock and roll to audiences across the world.
The 1960s saw several important changes in popular music, especially rock. Many of these changes took place through the British Invasion where bands such as The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and later Led Zeppelin became immensely popular and had a profound effect on American culture and music. These changes included the move from professionally composed songs to the singer-songwriter, and the understanding of popular music as an art, rather than a form of commerce or pure entertainment.
Hardcore, punk, and garage rock were the roots of alternative rock, a diverse grouping of rock subgenres that were explicitly opposed to mainstream music, and that arose from the punk and post-punk styles. In the United States, many cities developed local alternative rock scenes, including Minneapolis and Seattle. Seattle's local scene produced grunge music, a dark and brooding style inspired by hardcore, psychedelia, and alternative rock. With the addition of a more melodic element to the sound of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, grunge became wildly popular across the United States in 1991.
Heavy metal is characterized by aggressive, driving rhythms, amplified and distorted guitars, grandiose lyrics and virtuosic instrumentation. Glam metal, a hard rock and pop fusion with a raucous spirit and a glam-influenced visual aesthetic. Some of these bands, like Bon Jovi, became international stars. The band Guns N' Roses rose to fame near the end of the decade with an image that was a reaction against the glam metal aesthetic. By the mid-1980s heavy metal had branched in so many different directions that fans, record companies, and fanzines created numerous subgenres. The United States was especially known for one of these subgenres, thrash metal, which was innovated by bands like Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer, with Metallica being the most commercially successful.
Words for help
Array – масса, множество
Indigenous – местный, прирожденный
To lament – горевать. оплакивать
Spiritual – духовное песнопение (особ. афроамериканское)
Nascent – рождающийся, только проявляющийся
To amplify - развивать
Explain the underlined words
Answer the following questions
What main American music streams can you enumerate?
How can you characterize the music of the US?
What is the difference between blues and jazz?
What country musician is still considered as the greatest one?
What is the main element of the soul style?
Why did changes take place in the rock music in 1960s?
What style did Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth innovate?
Choose one style and characterize it.
Match musicians and appropriate styles
R & B
John Bon Jovi
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