In a society that is forever growing and changing it’s a curious thought of what is to become of ‘newness’. How has Britain’s negative financial growth affected our outlook recreationally, and what has developed out of it? Many say the youth are our future, but how much do they know of what has already been? What they’ve missed out on and what they’re doing differently to their predecessors – of course, technology has to be taken into account, but I’m talking about something that’s been with us for centuries. Music.
At one point in time it seems we had very few contemporary genres to choose from, some of the more popular leaders being rock ‘n’ roll, blues and jazz. There was a clear definition between them, and the consumers hosted a clear understanding of what they preferred. It was around the 1940’s that the genres began to divide and certain combinations were formed, but nothing alike the vast array we’re faced with today.
By the time the 1960’s arrived, the industry had begun it’s not so glacial pace toward fragmentation. When Jimi Hendrix first picked up a right handed Fender Stratocaster, and played it the wrong way around he wasn’t aware that he was playing it in a nonconventional manner. Through such nonconformist play he reached into, and broadened another new genre amalgamation – ‘psychedelic rock’, and this quickly grew with bands like Cream and Pink Floyd.
Every decade that passes brings with it innovative and completely unexpected collaborations. Take for example the larger movements in the late 70’s, early 80’s: new wave, new romanticism and glam rock.
New wave was a form of expression that was coined for its stimulating originality. Its style varied massively – it ranged from a late 50’s and 60’s type rock resurgence, to include both ska and reggae-styled music, all the way to ‘synth-pop’ dance. Bands like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and David Bowie were some of the leaders to revolutionise this recent innovation.
The synthesiser really came into its own in the 80’s and has been used ever since, however in no way could it be imprisoned by synonymy with new wave. It went onto to be used by hair metal bands in the late 80’s when it was transformed into a guitar type interface, or the keytar. This is merely one example of how an idea can make its way into so many different aspects of music and yet rapidly mutate the rest of the business forever.
The 90’s brought with it an even vaster bubbling cauldron of oscillating ingredients that has been termed the ‘genre explosion’: grunge, teen pop, house, trance, acid, garage and of course the ever mighty Britpop.
Britpop is a subgenre that united a country – a genre that moved Britons because they could relate to it. Influenced by guitar bands of the 60’s and 70’s, it brought around a resurgence of men with guitars, hosting devil-may-care attitudes, really looking back to a simpler time in reminiscence.
Nowadays, as we evaluate the mass of music we have so readily available online, there’s no way of foreseeing what is to become of our music industry. Music is becoming more layered, more reproduced, more amalgamated, more ‘out there’ and it’s through this ever expanding industry that I suppose we’ll never be able to gauge what’s to come.
Will music eventually in some shape or form come to repeat itself all together? May I draw your attention to Marshall Mathers aka Eminem, a very successful white musician, who brought black music to white audiences? Doesn’t that sound incredibly similar to what Elvis did? Taking into account that Hip-hop was, and is an incredibly popular genre; Eminem took what was predominately enjoyed and performed by a black audience and made it universal.
I guess the point I’m really getting at, is that if a cocktail were to have too many ingredients will it eventually become an immense indefinable mess? How much bigger can the top end of the music industry’s tree get? It’s a movement in which the subgenres and microgenres have come to massively outweigh their parent pools.
But in every microgenre a dedicated listener can always identify where it’s evolved from, and it’s with this final question that I leave you…
Is ‘old’, the new ‘big’?
Published on Iareyeti