The category of Rock music describes a group of related music styles that have dominated popular music in the Western Hemisphere since the 1950s. Rock music began in the United States but has been distinctly shaped by many other styles ranging anywhere from gospel to classical music. Rock 'n' roll became the first style of music to attempt to appeal directly to young people. It developed through mixing African American rhythm and blues with American country music.
Rock 'n' roll was truly made a world-wide obsession by Elvis Presley. Later, groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones added their own distinctive touches to rock 'n' roll. "Soul" also developed during this period through artists such as Aretha Franklin. She created a blend of R & B and gospel music to create the new style. In the late 1970s, a new version of rock 'n' roll, labeled "punk rock," developed. During the next two decades, superstars emerged, like Michael Jackson and Madonna, who began filling huge stadiums for concerts.
The central and linking instrument of most kinds of rock music is the electric guitar. Charlie Christian was the first person to perform using the amplified guitar as a solo instrument, but many musicians since him, such as Aaron Thibeaux Walker, Les Paul, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, and Carlos Santana have featured and experimented with the instrument. Other instruments that are common in rock music are the electric bass guitar, various keyboard instruments (including the electric piano, organ, and synthesizer), and the drum set.
Rock music styles also share complex technical similarities. These styles are based on tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords and the twelve bar blues chord progression. Most rock music is performed at high volume levels, so it has also been closely tied to developments in electronic technology.
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