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SLANG, YOUTH SUBCULTURES AND ROCK MUSIC(eng)


CONTENTS

 

I.  Introduction

II. Slang

1. Definition

2. Origins

3. Development of slang

4. Creators of slang

5. Sources

6. Linguistic processes forming slang

7. Characteristics of slang

8. Diffusion of slang

9. Uses of slang

10. Attitudes toward slang

11. Formation

12. Position in the Language

 

III. Youth Subcultures

1. The Concept of Youth Subcultures

2. The Formation of Youth Subcultures

3. The Increase of Youth Subculture

4. The Features of Youth Subcultures

5. The Types of Youth Subcultures

6. The Variety of Youth Subcultures

 

IV. Rock Music

1. What is rock?

2. Rock in the 1950s

3. Rock in the 1960s

4. Rock in the 1970s

5. Rock in the 1980s and '90s

 

V. Rock subcultures

1.      Hippie

2.      Punk

3.      Mod

4.      Skinhead

5.      Goth

6.      Industrial

7.      Hardcore

8.      Straight Edge

9.      Grunge

10.   Alternative

11.   Metal

 

VI. Dictionary

1.      Dictionary of youth slang during 1960-70’s

2.      Dictionary of modern British slang

 

VII. Bibliography

 

 

 

                                       INTRODUCTION

My graduation paper is devoted to the study of the topic “Slang, youth subcultures and rock music.”  This work consists of 5 parts. The first part is about slang. What is it?

Slang, informal, nonstandard words and phrases, generally shorter lived than the expressions of ordinary colloquial speech, and typically formed by creative, often witty juxtapositions of words or images. Slang can be contrasted with jargon (technical language of occupational or other groups) and with argot or cant (secret vocabulary of underworld groups), but the borderlines separating these categories from slang are greatly blurred, and some writers use the terms cant, argot, and jargon in a general way to include all the foregoing meanings.
Origins of slang
Slang tends to originate in subcultures within a society. Occupational groups (for example, loggers, police, medical professionals, and computer specialists) are prominent originators of both jargon and slang; other groups creating slang include the armed forces, teenagers, racial minorities, ghetto residents, labor unions, citizens-band radiobroadcasters, sports groups, drug addicts, criminals, and even religious denominations (Episcopalians, for example, produced spike, a High Church Anglican). Slang expressions often embody attitudes and values of group members. They may thus contribute to a sense of group identity and may convey to the listener information about the speaker's background. Before an apt expression becomes slang, however, it must be widely adopted by members of the subculture. At this point slang and jargon overlap greatly. If the subculture has enough contact with the mainstream culture, its figures of speech become slang expressions known to the whole society. For example, cat (a sport), cool (aloof, stylish), Mr. Charley (a white man), The Man (the law), and Uncle Tom (a meek black) all originated in the predominantly black Harlem district of New York City and have traveled far since their inception. Slang is thus generally not tied to any geographic region within a country.
A slang expression may suddenly become widely used and as quickly dated (23-skiddoo). It may become accepted as standard speech, either in its original slang meaning (bus, from omnibus) or with an altered, possibly tamed meaning (jazz, which originally had sexual connotations). Some expressions have persisted for centuries as slang (booze for alcoholic beverage). In the 20th century, mass media and rapid travel have speeded up both the circulation and the demise of slang terms. Television and novels have turned criminal cant into slang (five grand for $5000). Changing social circumstances may stimulate the spread of slang. Drug-related expressions (such as pot and marijuana) were virtually a secret jargon in the 1940s; in the 1960s they were adopted by rebellious youth; and in the 1970s and '80s they were widely known.

Uses of slang
In some cases slang may provide a needed name for an object or action (walkie-talkie, a portable two-way radio; tailgating, driving too close behind another vehicle), or it may offer an emotional outlet (buzz off! for go away!) or a satirical or patronizing reference (smokey, state highway trooper). It may provide euphemisms (john, head, can, and in Britain, loo, all for toilet, itself originally a euphemism), and it may allow its user to create a shock effect by using a pungent slang expression in an unexpected context. Slang has provided myriad synonyms for parts of the body (bean, head; schnozzle, nose), for money (moola, bread, scratch), for food (grub, slop, garbage), and for drunkenness (soused, stewed, plastered).
Formation of slang
Slang expressions are created by the same processes that affect ordinary speech. Expressions may take form as metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech (dead as a doornail). Words may acquire new meanings (cool,cat). A narrow meaning may become generalized (fink, originally a strikebreaker, later a betrayer or disappointer) or vice-versa (heap, a run-down car). Words may be clipped, or abbreviated (mike, microphone), and acronyms may gain currency (VIP, AWOL, nafu). A foreign suffix may be added (the Yiddish and Russian -nik in beatnik) and foreign words adopted (baloney, from Bologna). A change in meaning may make a vulgar word acceptable (jazz) or an acceptable word vulgar (raspberry, a sound imitating flatus; from raspberry tart in the rhyming slang of Australia and Cockney London; Sometimes words are newly coined (oomph, sex appeal, and later, energy or impact).
Position in the Language

Slang is one of the vehicles through which languages change and become renewed, and its vigor and color enrich daily speech. Although it has gained respectability in the 20th century, in the past it was often loudly condemned as vulgar. Nevertheless, Shakespeare brought into acceptable usage such slang terms as hubbub, to bump, and to dwindle, and 20th-century writers have used slang brilliantly to convey character and ambience. Slang appears at all times and in all languages. A person's head was kapala (dish) in Sanskrit, testa (pot) in Latin; testa later became the standard Latin word for head. Among Western languages, English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Yiddish, Romanian, and Romani (Gypsy) are particularly rich in slang.

The second part of my graduation paper is about youth subcultures.

"Subcultures are meaning systems, modes of expression or life styles developed by groups in subordinate structural positions in response to dominant meaning systems, and which reflect their attempt to solve structural contradictions rising from the wider societal context"

The next part is about rock music in the 1950s – ‘90s. What is rock?

Rock Music, group of related music styles that have dominated popular music in the West since about 1955. Rock music began in the United States, but it has influenced and in turn been shaped by a broad field of cultures and musical traditions, including gospel music, the blues, country-and-western music, classical music, folk music, electronic music, and the popular music of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In addition to its use as a broad designation, the term rock music commonly refers to music styles after 1959 predominantly influenced by white musicians. Other major rock music styles include rock and roll  the first genre of the music; and rhythm-and-blues music, influenced mainly by black American musicians. Each of these major genres encompasses a variety of substyles, such as heavy metal, punk, alternative, and grunge. While innovations in rock music have often occurred in regional centers—such as New York City, Kingston, Jamaica, and Liverpool, England—the influence of rock music is now felt worldwide.

The fourth part is about different rock subcultures such as hippie, punk, skinhead, goth, hardcore, grunge, heavy metal and others. I discribed their fashion, style, bands, music, lyrics, political views.

And the last part contains two dictionaries. The first dictionary is about youth slang during  1960 –70’s and  the second dictionary consists of modern British slang.

Slang ... an attempt of common humanity to escape from bald literalism, and express itself illimitably ... the wholesome fermentation or eductation of those processes eternally active in language, by which froth and specks are thrown up, mostly to pass away, though occasionally to settle and permanently crystallise.

                                                                                          Walt Whitman, 1885

 

I. SLANG

 

1. Definition

Main Entry: 1slang
Pronunciation: 'sla[ng]
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1756
1 : language peculiar to a particular group: as a : ARGOT b : JARGON 2
2 : an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech
- slang adjective
- slang·i·ly /'sla[ng]-&-lE/ adverb
- slang·i·ness /'sla[ng]-E-n&s/ noun
- slangy /'sla[ng]-E/ adjective

 

Main Entry: 2slang
Date: 1828
intransitive senses : to use slang or vulgar abuse
transitive senses : to abuse with harsh or coarse language

 

Main Entry: rhyming slang
Function: noun
Date: 1859
: slang in which the word intended is replaced by a word or phrase that rhymes with it (as loaf of bread for head) or the first part of the phrase (as loaf for head)

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Slang

nonstandard vocabulary composed of words or senses characterized primarily by connotations of extreme informality and usually by a currency not limited to a particular region. It is composed typically of coinages or arbitrarily changed words, clipped or shortened forms, extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech, or verbal novelties.

Slang consists of the words and expressions that have escaped from the cant, jargon and argot (and to a lesser extent from dialectal, nonstandard, and taboo speech) of specific subgroups of society so that they are known and used by an appreciable percentage of the general population, even though the words and expressions often retain some associations with the subgroups that originally used and popularized them. Thus, slang is a middle ground for words and expressions that have become too popular to be any longer considered as part of the more restricted categories, but that are not yet (and may never become) acceptable or popular enough to be considered informal or standard. (Compare the slang "hooker" and the standard "prostitute.")

Under the terms of such a definition, "cant" comprises the restricted, non-technical words and expressions of any particular group, as an occupational, age, ethnic, hobby, or special-interest group. (Cool, uptight, do your thing were youth cant of the late 1960s before they became slang.) "Jargon" is defined as the restricted, technical, or shoptalk words and expressions of any particular group, as an occupational, trade, scientific, artistic, criminal, or other group. (Finals used by printers and by students, Fannie May by money men, preemie by obstetricians were jargon before they became slang.) "Argot" is merely the combined cant and jargon of thieves, criminals, or any other underworld group. (Hit used by armed robbers; scam by corporate confidence men.)

Slang fills a necessary niche in all languages, occupying a middle ground between the standard and informal words accepted by the general public and the special words and expressions known only to comparatively small social subgroups. It can serve as a bridge or a barrier, either helping both old and new words that have been used as "insiders' " terms by a specific group of people to enter the language of the general public or, on the other hand, preventing them from doing so. Thus, for many words, slang is a testing ground that finally proves them to be generally useful, appealing, and acceptable enough to become standard or informal. For many other words, slang is a testing ground that shows them to be too restricted in use, not as appealing as standard synonyms, or unnecessary, frivolous, faddish, or unacceptable for standard or informal speech. For still a third group of words and expressions, slang becomes not a final testing ground that either accepts or rejects them for general use but becomes a vast limbo, a permanent holding ground, an area of speech that a word never leaves. Thus, during various times in history, American slang has provided cowboy, blizzard, okay, racketeer, phone, gas, and movie for standard or informal speech. It has tried and finally rejected conbobberation (disturbance), krib (room or apartment), lucifer (match), tomato (girl), and fab (fabulous) from standard or informal speech. It has held other words such as bones (dice), used since the 14th century, and beat it (go away), used since the 16th century, in a permanent grasp, neither passing them on to standard or informal speech nor rejecting them from popular, long-term use.

Slang words cannot be distinguished from other words by sound or meaning. Indeed, all slang words were once cant, jargon, argot, dialect, nonstandard, or taboo. For example, the American slang to neck (to kiss and caress) was originally student cant; flattop (an aircraft carrier) was originally navy jargon; and pineapple (a bomb or hand grenade) was originally criminal argot. Such words did not, of course, change their sound or meaning when they became slang. Many slang words, such as blizzard, mob, movie, phone, gas, and others, have become informal or standard and, of course, did not change in sound or meaning when they did so. In fact, most slang words are homonyms of standard words, spelled and pronounced just like their standard counterparts, as for example (American slang), cabbage (money), cool (relaxed), and pot (marijuana). Of course, the words cabbage, cool, and pot sound alike in their ordinary standard use and in their slang use. Each word sounds just as appealing or unappealing, dull or colourful in its standard as in its slang use. Also, the meanings of cabbage and money, cool and relaxed, pot and marijuana are the same, so it cannot be said that the connotations of slang words are any more colourful or racy than the meanings of standard words.

All languages, countries, and periods of history have slang. This is true because they all have had words with varying degrees of social acceptance and popularity.

All segments of society use some slang, including the most educated, cultivated speakers and writers. In fact, this is part of the definition of slang. For example, George Washington used redcoat (British soldier); Winston Churchill used booze (liquor); and Lyndon B. Johnson used cool it (calm down, shut up).

The same linguistic processes are used to create and popularize slang as are used to create and popularize all other words. That is, all words are created and popularized in the same general ways; they are labeled slang only according to their current social acceptance, long after creation and popularization.

Slang is not the language of the underworld, nor does most of it necessarily come from the underworld. The main sources of slang change from period to period. Thus, in one period of American slang, frontiersmen, cowboys, hunters, and trappers may have been the main source; during some parts of the 1920s and '30s the speech of baseball players and criminals may have been the main source; at other times, the vocabulary of jazz musicians, soldiers, or college students may have been the main source.

To fully understand slang, one must remember that a word's use, popularity, and acceptability can change. Words can change in social level, moving in any direction. Thus, some standard words of William Shakespeare's day are found only in certain modern-day British dialects or in the dialect of the southern United States. Words that are taboo in one era (e.g., stomach, thigh) can become accepted, standard words in a later era. Language is dynamic, and at any given time hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of words and expressions are in the process of changing from one level to another, of becoming more acceptable or less acceptable, of becoming more popular or less popular.

 

 

2. Origins

Slang tends to originate in subcultures within a society. Occupational groups (for example, loggers, police, medical professionals, and computer specialists) are prominent originators of both jargon and slang; other groups creating slang include the armed forces, teenagers, racial minorities, ghetto residents, labor unions, citizens-band radiobroadcasters, sports groups, drug addicts, criminals, and even religious denominations (Episcopalians, for example, produced spike, a High Church Anglican). Slang expressions often embody attitudes and values of group members. They may thus contribute to a sense of group identity and may convey to the listener information about the speaker’s background. Before an apt expression becomes slang, however, it must be widely adopted by members of the subculture. At this point slang and jargon overlap greatly. If the subculture has enough contact with the mainstream culture, its figures of speech become slang expressions known to the whole society. For example, cat (a sport), cool (aloof, stylish), Mr. Charley (a white man), The Man (the law), and Uncle Tom (a meek black) all originated in the predominantly black Harlem district of New York City and have traveled far since their inception. Slang is thus generally not tied to any geographic region within a country.

A slang expression may suddenly become widely used and as quickly date (23-skiddoo). It may become accepted as standard speech, either in its original slang meaning (bus, from omnibus) or with an altered, possibly tamed meaning (jazz, which originally had sexual connotations). Some expressions have persisted for centuries as slang (booze for alcoholic beverage). In the 20th century, mass media and rapid travel have speeded up both the circulation and the demise of slang terms. Television and novels have turned criminal cant into slang (five grand for $5000). Changing social circumstances may stimulate the spread of slang. Drug-related expressions (such as pot and marijuana) were virtually a secret jargon in the 1940s; in the 1960s they were adopted by rebellious youth; and in the 1970s and ’80s they were widely known.

3. Development of slang

 

Slang emanates from conflicts in values, sometimes superficial, often fundamental. When an individual applies language in a new way to express hostility, ridicule, or contempt, often with sharp wit, he may be creating slang, but the new expression will perish unless it is picked up by others. If the speaker is a member of a group that finds that his creation projects the emotional reaction of its members toward an idea, person, or social institution, the expression will gain currency according to the unanimity of attitude within the group. A new slang term is usually widely used in a subculture before it appears in the dominant culture. Thus slang--e.g., "sucker," "honkey," "shave-tail," "jerk"--expresses the attitudes, not always derogatory, of one group or class toward the values of another. Slang sometimes stems from within the group, satirizing or burlesquing its own values, behaviour, and attitudes; e.g., "shotgun wedding," "cake eater," "greasy spoon." Slang, then, is produced largely by social forces rather than by an individual speaker or writer who, single-handed (like Horace Walpole, who coined "serendipity" more than 200 years ago), creates and establishes a word in the language. This is one reason why it is difficult to determine the origin of slang terms.

 

4. Creators of slang

 

Civilized society tends to divide into a dominant culture and various subcultures that flourish within the dominant framework. The subcultures show specialized linguistic phenomena, varying widely in form and content, that depend on the nature of the groups and their relation to each other and to the dominant culture. The shock value of slang stems largely from the verbal transfer of the values of a subculture to diametrically opposed values in the dominant culture. Names such as fuzz, pig, fink, bull, and dick for policemen were not created by officers of the law. (The humorous "dickless tracy," however, meaning a policewoman, was coined by male policemen.)

Occupational groups are legion, and while in most respects they identify with the dominant culture, there is just enough social and linguistic hostility to maintain group solidarity. Terms such as scab, strike-breaker, company-man, and goon were highly charged words in the era in which labour began to organize in the United States; they are not used lightly even today, though they have been taken into the standard language.

In addition to occupational and professional groups, there are many other types of subcultures that supply slang. These include sexual deviants, narcotic addicts, ghetto groups, institutional populations, agricultural subsocieties, political organizations, the armed forces, Gypsies, and sports groups of many varieties. Some of the most fruitful sources of slang are the subcultures of professional criminals who have migrated to the New World since the 16th century. Old-time thieves still humorously refer to themselves as FFV--First Families of Virginia.

In criminal subcultures, pressure applied by the dominant culture intensifies the internal forces already at work, and the argot forming there emphasizes the values, attitudes, and techniques of the subculture. Criminal groups seem to evolve about this specialized argot, and both the subculture and its slang expressions proliferate in response to internal and external pressures.

 

5. Sources

 

Most subcultures tend to draw words and phrases from the contiguous language (rather than creating many new words) and to give these established terms new and special meanings; some borrowings from foreign languages, including the American Indian tongues, are traditional. The more learned occupations or professions like medicine, law, psychology, sociology, engineering, and electronics tend to create true neologisms, often based on Greek or Latin roots, but these are not major sources for slang, though nurses and medical students adapt some medical terminology to their slang, and air force personnel and some other branches of the armed services borrow freely from engineering and electronics.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Linguistic processes forming slang

 

The processes by which words become slang are the same as those by which other words in the language change their form or meaning or both. Some of these are the employment of metaphor, simile, folk etymology, distortion of sounds in words, generalization, specialization, clipping, the use of acronyms, elevation and degeneration, metonymy, synecdoche, hyperbole, borrowings from foreign languages, and the play of euphemism against taboo. The English word trip is an example of a term that has undergone both specialization and generalization. It first became specialized to mean a psychedelic experience resulting from the drug LSD. Subsequently, it generalized again to mean any experience on any drug, and beyond that to any type of "kicks" from anything. Clipping is exemplified by the use of "grass" from "laughing grass," a term for marijuana. "Funky," once a very low term for body odour, has undergone elevation among jazz buffs to signify "the best"; "fanny," on the other hand, once simply a girl's name, is currently a degenerated term that refers to the buttocks (in England, it has further degenerated into a taboo word for the female genitalia). There is also some actual coinage of slang terms.

 

7. Characteristics of slang

 

Psychologically, most good slang harks back to the stage in human culture when animism was a worldwide religion. At that time, it was believed that all objects had two aspects, one external and objective that could be perceived by the senses, the other imperceptible (except to gifted individuals) but identical with what we today would call the "real" object. Human survival depended upon the manipulation of all "real" aspects of life--hunting, reproduction, warfare, weapons, design of habitations, nature of clothing or decoration, etc.--through control or influence upon the animus, or imperceptible phase of reality. This influence was exerted through many aspects of sympathetic magic, one of the most potent being the use of language. Words, therefore, had great power, because they evoked the things to which they referred.

Civilized cultures and their languages retain many remnants of animism, largely on the unconscious level. In Western languages, the metaphor owes its power to echoes of sympathetic magic, and slang utilizes certain attributes of the metaphor to evoke images too close for comfort to "reality." For example, to refer to a woman as a "broad" is automatically to increase her girth in an area in which she may fancy herself as being thin. Her reaction may, thus, be one of anger and resentment, if she happens to live in a society in which slim hips are considered essential to feminine beauty. Slang, then, owes much of its power to shock to the superimposition of images that are incongruous with images (or values) of others, usually members of the dominant culture. Slang is most popular when its imagery develops incongruity bordering on social satire. Every slang word, however, has its own history and reasons for popularity. When conditions change, the term may change in meaning, be adopted into the standard language, or continue to be used as slang within certain enclaves of the population. Nothing is flatter than dead slang. In 1910, for instance, "Oh you kid" and "23-skiddoo" were quite stylish phrases in the U.S. but they have gone with the hobble skirt. Children, however, unaware of anachronisms, often revive old slang under a barrage of older movies rerun on television.

Some slang becomes respectable when it loses its edge; "spunk," "fizzle," "spent," "hit the spot," "jazz," "funky," and "p.o.'d," once thought to be too indecent for feminine ears, are now family words. Other slang survives for centuries, like "bones" for dice (Chaucer), "beat it" for run away (Shakespeare), "duds" for clothes, and "booze" for liquor (Dekker). These words must have been uttered as slang long before appearing in print, and they have remained slang ever since. Normally, slang has both a high birth and death rate in the dominant culture, and excessive use tends to dull the lustre of even the most colourful and descriptive words and phrases. The rate of turnover in slang words is undoubtedly encouraged by the mass media, and a term must be increasingly effective to survive.

While many slang words introduce new concepts, some of the most effective slang provides new expressions--fresh, satirical, shocking--for established concepts, often very respectable ones. Sound is sometimes used as a basis for this type of slang, as, for example, in various phonetic distortions (e.g., pig Latin terms). It is also used in rhyming slang, which employs a fortunate combination of both sound and imagery. Thus, gloves are "turtledoves" (the gloved hands suggesting a pair of billing doves), a girl is a "twist and twirl" (the movement suggesting a girl walking), and an insulting imitation of flatus, produced by blowing air between the tip of the protruded tongue and the upper lip, is the "raspberry," cut back from "raspberry tart." Most slang, however, depends upon incongruity of imagery, conveyed by the lively connotations of a novel term applied to an established concept. Slang is not all of equal quality, a considerable body of it reflecting a simple need to find new terms for common ones, such as the hands, feet, head, and other parts of the body. Food, drink, and sex also involve extensive slang vocabulary. Strained or synthetically invented slang lacks verve, as can be seen in the desperate efforts of some sportswriters to avoid mentioning the word baseball--e.g., a batter does not hit a baseball but rather "swats the horsehide," "plasters the pill," "hefts the old apple over the fence," and so on.

The most effective slang operates on a more sophisticated level and often tells something about the thing named, the person using the term, and the social matrix against which it is used. Pungency may increase when full understanding of the term depends on a little inside information or knowledge of a term already in use, often on the slang side itself. For example, the term Vatican roulette (for the rhythm system of birth control) would have little impact if the expression Russian roulette were not already in wide usage.

 

8. Diffusion of slang

 

Slang invades the dominant culture as it seeps out of various subcultures. Some words fall dead or lie dormant in the dominant culture for long periods. Others vividly express an idea already latent in the dominant culture and these are immediately picked up and used. Before the advent of mass media, such terms invaded the dominant culture slowly and were transmitted largely by word of mouth. Thus a term like snafu, its shocking power softened with the explanation "situation normal, all fouled up," worked its way gradually from the military in World War II by word of mouth (because the media largely shunned it) into respectable circles. Today, however, a sportscaster, news reporter, or comedian may introduce a lively new word already used by an in-group into millions of homes simultaneously, giving it almost instant currency. For example, the term uptight was first used largely by criminal narcotic addicts to indicate the onset of withdrawal distress when drugs are denied. Later, because of intense journalistic interest in the drug scene, it became widely used in the dominant culture to mean anxiety or tension unrelated to drug use. It kept its form but changed its meaning slightly.

Other terms may change their form or both form and meaning, like "one for the book" (anything unusual or unbelievable). Sportswriters in the U.S. borrowed this term around 1920 from the occupational language of then legal bookmakers, who lined up at racetracks in the morning ("the morning line" is still figuratively used on every sports page) to take bets on the afternoon races. Newly arrived bookmakers went to the end of the line, and any bettor requesting unusually long odds was motioned down the line with the phrase, "That's one for the end book." The general public dropped the "end" as meaningless, but old-time gamblers still retain it. Slang spreads through many other channels, such as popular songs, which, for the initiate, are often rich in double entendre.

When subcultures are structurally tight, little of their language leaks out. Thus the Mafia, in more than a half-century of powerful criminal activity in America, has contributed little slang. When subcultures weaken, contacts with the dominant culture multiply, diffusion occurs, and their language appears widely as slang. Criminal narcotic addicts, for example, had a tight subculture and a highly secret argot in the 1940s; now their terms are used freely by middle-class teenagers, even those with no real knowledge of drugs.

9. Uses of slang

In some cases slang may provide a needed name for an object or action (walkie-talkie, a portable two-way radio; tailgating, driving too close behind another vehicle), or it may offer an emotional outlet (buzz off! for go away!) or a satirical or patronizing reference (smokey, state highway trooper). It may provide euphemisms (john, head, can, and in Britain, loo, all for toilet, itself originally a euphemism), and it may allow its user to create a shock effect by using a pungent slang expression in an unexpected context. Slang has provided myriad synonyms for parts of the body (bean, head; schnozzle, nose), for money (moola, bread, scratch), for food (grub, slop, garbage), and for drunkenness (soused, stewed, plastered).

 

Slang is used for many purposes, but generally it expresses a certain emotional attitude; the same term may express diametrically opposed attitudes when used by different people. Many slang terms are primarily derogatory, though they may also be ambivalent when used in intimacy or affection. Some crystallize or bolster the self-image or promote identification with a class or in-group. Others flatter objects, institutions, or persons but may be used by different people for the opposite effect. "Jesus freak," originally used as ridicule, was adopted as a title by certain street evangelists. Slang sometimes insults or shocks when used directly; some terms euphemize a sensitive concept, though obvious or excessive euphemism may break the taboo more effectively than a less decorous term. Some slang words are essential because there are no words in the standard language expressing exactly the same meaning; e.g., "freak-out," "barn-storm," "rubberneck," and the noun "creep." At the other extreme, multitudes of words, vague in meaning, are used simply as fads.

There are many other uses to which slang is put, according to the individual and his place in society. Since most slang is used on the spoken level, by persons who probably are unaware that it is slang, the choice of terms naturally follows a multiplicity of unconscious thought patterns. When used by writers, slang is much more consciously and carefully chosen to achieve a specific effect. Writers, however, seldom invent slang.

It has been claimed that slang is created by ingenious individuals to freshen the language, to vitalize it, to make the language more pungent and picturesque, to increase the store of terse and striking words, or to provide a vocabulary for new shades of meaning. Most of the originators and purveyors of slang, however, are probably not conscious of these noble purposes and do not seem overly concerned about what happens to their language.

 

10. Attitudes toward slang

 

With the rise of naturalistic writing demanding realism, slang began to creep into English literature even though the schools waged warfare against it, the pulpit thundered against it, and many women who aspired to gentility and refinement banished it from the home. It flourished underground, however, in such male sanctuaries as lodges, poolrooms, barbershops, and saloons.

By 1925 a whole new generation of U.S. and European naturalistic writers was in revolt against the Victorian restraints that had caused even Mark Twain to complain, and today any writer may use slang freely, especially in fiction and drama. It has become an indispensable tool in the hands of master satirists, humorists, and journalists. Slang is now socially acceptable, not just because it is slang but because, when used with skill and discrimination, it adds a new and exciting dimension to language. At the same time, it is being seriously studied by linguists and other social scientists as a revealing index to the culture that produces and uses it.

11. Formation

Slang expressions are created by the same processes that affect ordinary speech. Expressions may take form as metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech (dead as a doornail). Words may acquire new meanings (cool, cat). A narrow meaning may become generalized (fink, originally a strikebreaker, later a betrayer or disappointer) or vice-versa (heap, a run-down car). Words may be clipped, or abbreviated (mike, microphone), and acronyms may gain currency (VIP, awol, snafu). A foreign suffix may be added (the Yiddish and Russian -nik in beatnik) and foreign words adopted (baloney, from Bologna). A change in meaning may make a vulgar word acceptable (jazz) or an acceptable word vulgar (raspberry, a sound imitating flatus; from raspberry tart in the rhyming slang of Australia and Cockney London; Sometimes words are newly coined (oomph, sex appeal, and later, energy or impact).

12. Position in the Language

Slang is one of the vehicles through which languages change and become renewed, and its vigor and color enrich daily speech. Although it has gained respectability in the 20th century, in the past it was often loudly condemned as vulgar. Nevertheless, Shakespeare brought into acceptable usage such slang terms as hubbub, to bump, and to dwindle, and 20th-century writers have used slang brilliantly to convey character and ambience. Slang appears at all times and in all languages. A person’s head was kapala (dish) in Sanskrit, testa (pot) in Latin; testa later became the standard Latin word for head. Among Western languages, English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Yiddish, Romanian, and Romany (Gypsy) are particularly rich in slang.

 

II. YOUTH SUBCULTURES

 

Main Entry: sub·cul·ture
Pronunciation:
's&b-"k&l-ch&r
Function: noun
Date: 1886
1 a : a culture (as of bacteria) derived from another culture b : an act or instance of producing a subculture
2 : an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society subculture>
- sub·cul·tur·al /
-'k&lch-r&l, -'k&l-ch&-/ adjective
- sub·cul·tur·al·ly adverb
- subculture transitive verb

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

 

1. The Concept of Youth Subcultures
The word 'culture' suggests that there is a separate entity within the larger society with which the larger society must contend. A subculture group is a social-cultural formation that exists as a sort of island or enclave within the larger society. One definition of subculture is: "subcultures are meaning systems, modes of expression or life styles developed by groups in subordinate structural positions in response to dominant meaning systems, and which reflect their attempt to solve structural contradictions rising from the wider societal context" (Michael Brake). For Brake membership of a subculture necessarily involves membership of a class culture and the subculture may be an extension of, or in opposition to, the class culture. The significance of subcultures for their participants is that they offer a solution to structural dislocations through the establishment of an achieved identity - the selection of certain elements of style outside of those associated with the ascribed identity offered by work, home, or school. He suggests that the majority of youth pass through life without significant involvement in deviant subcultures. He says that the role of youth culture involves offering symbolic elements that are used by youth to construct an identity outside the restraints of class and education.

Snejina Michailova, in Exploring Subcultural Specificity in Socialist and Postsocialist Organisations, presents the following definitions of subculture: (1) Subcultures are distinct clusters of understandings, behaviors, and cultural forms that identify groups of people in the organization. They differ noticeably from the common organizational culture in which they are embedded, either intensifying its understandings and practices or deviating from them" (Trice and Beyer). (2) Subculture are a "...compromise solution between two contradictory needs: the need to create and express autonomy and difference and the need to maintain identifications to the culture within whose boundaries the subculture develops" (Cohen)." Snejina adds: "Subcultures posses their own meanings, their own way of coping with rules, accepted to be valid for the organization, their own values structured in specific hierarchies, they develop their own categorical language for classifying events around them, they create their own symbolic order." A key element in subcultures is sharedness - the sharing of a common set of perspectives.

The common elements of a subculture include: (1) relatively unique values and norms, (2) a special slang not shared with society, (3) separate channels of communication, (4) unique styles and fads, (5) a sense of primary group belonging seen in the use of 'us' and 'them', (6) a hierarchy of social patterns that clarify the criteria for prestige and leadership, (7) receptivity to the charisma of leaders and (8) gratification of special unmet needs.

To suggest that there is a youth subculture requires proof that they are a distinct group with their own set of characteristic. This is true in terms of (1) aesthetics: youth have a distinct style and taste that is expressed in their personal appearance and an artistic flair expressed in spontaneity and creativity. Their values include an emphasis on community, a sense of belonging and on collectively shared ecstasy. Youth culture also exists as shown in their distinct (2) morality: there is a strong emphasis on liberation from all restraints and on a guiltless pursuit of pleasure. In the area of sexuality we find an aspect of life where the individual is to experience themselves and others with complete freedom and honesty. There is a combination of both individualism (youth culture affirms the autonomy of each individual who has the 'right' to do their own thing) and collectivism (many individuals are fused into a common experience). The search for identity is at the core.

2. The Formation of Youth Subcultures
A subculture group forms when the larger culture fails to meet the needs of a particular group of people. They offer different patterns of living values and behaviour norms, but there is dependence on the larger culture for general goals and direction (unlike counter-cultures which seek to destroy or change the larger culture). Subcultures try to compensate for the failure of the larger culture to provide adequate status, acceptance and identity. In the youth subculture, youth find their age-related needs met. It is a way-station in the life of the individual - it is as if society permits the individual to 'drop out' for a period of years and is even willing to subsidise the phase. However, for some people the way-station becomes the place of permanent settlement. This is when a group moves towards becoming a counter-culture.

Industrialisation and the related social-psychological factors of modern industrial societies caused the phenomenon of youth subcultures for the following reasons: (1) The deepening of the division of labour separated the family from the processes of modern production and administration. Youth is a further extension of the same process of institutional separation or differentiation. With the industrial revolution there arose an institutional structure that 'allowed room' for youth. (2) With this division of labour there came an increasing specialisation which led to a lengthening of the period of time that the individual needed to spend in the educational system. Youth were separated from the process of production by child labour laws. (3) The rise of modern medicine and nutrition led to the sheer numbers of youth increasing. (4) The sheer complexity of modern society has meant that different individuals lead vastly different lives. When adults disappear into a strange world, reappearing for limited contact with youth, a degree of estrangement results. This trend has caused youth to become autonomous, establishing norms and patterns of their own that are independent from the adult world. (5) Socialisation in modern societies is characterised by high degrees of discontinuity and inconsistency. This produces individuals who are not well integrated and a period of time is needed where they can complete the process of socialisation - a time to find themselves, hence adolescence.

A number of different theories have been suggested for the formation of youth subcultures:

A. A Natural Part of the Journey from Childhood to Adulthood
As discussed under the youth culture section, there is a journey from childhood to adulthood. Youth ban together for support into groups that function as half-way houses between the world of being a child and the world of being an adult. Here youth subcultures are about survival in an otherwise hostile world.

B. A Class Struggle Expressed Through The Use of Style
In the resistance through rituals understanding of culture the members are always striving against dominant classes; older generations and against those who conform. They are always trying to find ways to disrupt the ideological and generational oppression in order to crease spaces for themselves. The resistance through personal expression is often contrasted against the conformity of the ‘normals’. In many writings youth are counterposed against adults - they hate and avoid adults and oppose them because they represent authority. A dichotomy was created between, for example: Goths and Normals where Goths avoid and hate adults, oppose adults who represent authority and are deemed to resist; while Normals relate well to adults, consult adults with problems and are deemed to conform. Linda Forrester in a web article speaks of youth generated culture where visual communication is predominant and language is subservient to visual means of communications. Visual cultures include: skateboarders; graffiti artists; street dancers and street machiners which communicate through movement or gesture. These are periphery groups empowered by the space that they have created through visual representation. Their cultural production is recognised by mainstream culture and in that recognition they are given power to speak. The process empowers them and provides identity. Group control is managed through the visual display of creative talent, ie, skaters out-skate each other, graffiti artists out-image each other; street machines out-car each other; street dancers fight each other through art. In mainstream culture discourse is primarily verbal but in youth generated culture discourse is primarily visual. It is through style that criticism of performance and image occurs and it is through criticism that higher forms of visual representation occur.

C. A Rebellion Against the Dominant Culture Using Shock Tactics
Young people in creating subcultures are setting out to shock. One of the key ways in which they shock is through the clothes they wear. Oppositional subcultures (ie. Punk and Hip-hop subcultures) are movements dedicated to rebellion against the dominant culture.

D. A Construction of New Identities Based on Individualisation
The new ideas in youth culture suggest a more positive view of the role of youth in society. Youth is viewed as an active category - a sociocultural view of youth is introduced where youth are involved in the development of society through their creations. Youth must be allowed to exercise the power to bring change - they do so in their cultural expressions all the time. Youth culture is about individualism - an expanding degree of separation of individuals from their traditional ties and restrictions. As people have 'broken free' they feel a need to look for fixing points - material with which to form a new social and cultural identity. The motivation behind participating in the activities of a subculture involves coping with suffering (the sense of loss at being cut off from the past and hence one’s identity), ie. alienation, loneliness, meaningless, etc. The motive is to be reinstated into responsive and responsible relationships. The individualisation has produced post-traditional communities - because they are focussed on the individual they are looser and more fluid than traditional communities but they are still settings in which youth find self-expression and identity. The subculture is an identity-related substitute for the lost collective world of modernism but with the disintegration of tradition, subcultures has lost their identity-creating potential. There is a now a pluralisation of needs and interests that result from the process of individualisation and culturalisation - so culture ruptures are normal. Not only do these ruptures affect all social classes, but the traditional generational gap is also blurred. Alongside individualisation there is a tendency towards self-organisation - probably the new communities will be organised around the needs of the individuals and their interests. Douglas Rushkoff, in Playing the Future, suggests that as the world has become increasingly complex the children have adapted to its demands, and they have the ability to navigate it's terrain - adults must learn from them!

A whole new approach to the field of subculture theory is emerging. It is an approach that is critical of the subculture theory approach popular since the seventies.

3. The Increase of Youth Subcultures
A number of factors account for the increase in the number of subculture groups in society:

A. The Size of the Society
Charles Kraft in Anthropology for Christian Witness says: "larger societies will also develop more subgroupings. These subgroupings are usually referred to as subcultures."

B. The Rate of Change in the Society
In societies with slow pace of social change the transition to adulthood goes smoothly and youth are similar to their parents. There is a unity and a solidarity between the coming generation and the generation of parents. In societies undergoing rapid social change a smooth transition to adulthood is no longer possible and there is a strong dissimilarity with parent generations. Here an individual cannot reply on their parents identity patterns as they no longer fit into the social context. Because youth realise that they cannot learn from past experiences, they search for new identities that are relevant. In fact, the greater the change in a society the more intense and stronger the subcultures as people identify more with their subculture in order to find identity and security.

C. The Globalisation of the Society
The rate at which cultural objects and ideas are transmitted in large parts of the world today is a significant factor in the number of youth subculture groups that are identified. Where a society is connected to the global village through communication technology, they experience simultaneous pressures to unity and fragmentation.

D. The Position of Youth in the Society
People who are marginalised or deprived make their sense of loss known as they resist to the dominant culture. Where youth are connected to the center of the dominant culture they do not need to rebel or form counter-cultural groups.

E. The Generational Size in the Society
The size of a generation impacts on youth subcultures because the overall age structure within a society influences the social, economical and political make up of age groups. When the number of youth entering the market place drops, then youth as a portion of the total labour force also falls. This decline in youth as a market force, both as consumers and producers will significantly alter the social and political visibility of youth.

4. The Features of Youth Subcultures
Looking at various writings on youth culture the following features are noted (some of which may well overlap): style; language, music, class, rebellion, gender, art, rebellion, relationship to the dominant culture, degree of openness to outsiders, urban/rural living, etc. The following insights were gained from class interaction on youth subculture groups:

A. Class and Youth Subcultures
It was found that within different socio-economic groups subculture groups take on different characteristics and are based on different factors. Within the working class communities youth tend to have more interaction with parents and therefore don’t seem to rebel as much against their parents as youth in middle to upper classes. Youth subcultures in working class communities will show a greater among of gang activity, with subculture groups being defined around gangs in some areas. In middle class areas youth seem to form their subcultures around interests, such as sports.

B. Music and Youth Subcultures
Most subculture groups could be identified with a specific music genre and in some instances music was the defining characteristic around which the group was formed (such as with the following subcultures: Ravers, Metalheads, Homeboys, Ethno-hippies, Goths, Technos, Rastas and Punks). In other communities music is a key feature, but another factor would be the key characteristic, such as with Bladers, Bikers, Skaters, Surfers, etc.).

C. Family and Youth Subcultures
In working class families, we noted that families tend to have closer interaction and youth do not seem so intent on being different to their parents, whereas in other communities youth may deliberately choose a certain subculture group to reinforce their independence and even opposition to their parents. In upper-class communities (or among youth from upper-class homes) youth are given a lot more disposable income with which to engage in sports, computers, entertainment, etc. So they are able to engage in a greater diversity of pursuits - so there are possibly more subculture groups in middle to upper-class communities.

D. Fashion and Youth Subcultures
It was noted that fashion plays a role in all subculture groups and that some are more strongly defined by their fashion, while others take the clothing that relates to the music or sport to define the subculture group. Working class youth tend to place greater emphasis on fashion as it is the one way in which they can show off what they own, whereas middle class youth have other things to show off, such as homes, smart cars, fancy sound systems, etc.

5. The Types of Youth Subcultures
Snejina Michailova, in Exploring Subcultural Specificity in Socialist and Postsocialist Organisations, presents the following understanding of the types of subcultures based on their internal logic of development: (a) Stable Subcultures - these are functional and hierarchical and age-based. (b) Developing Subcultures - here there are two types, those that are (i) climbing - their role is becoming more important, and those that are (ii) climbing-down - their significance is being reduced. (c) Counter Cultures - those that confront and contradict the official culture, also called oppositional subcultures.

6. The Variety of Youth Subcultures
Youth workers should, through research and observation, seek to identify the various subculture groups within the community in which the youth group operates, to ensure that the group is able to help to meet the needs of the different groups. In Britain in the 1980s the following groups of youth were identified: Casuals, Rastas, Sloans, Goths, Punks and Straights. In South Africa in the 1990s the following youth subculture groups were identified: Socialite, Striver, Traditionalist, Independent, Uninvolved, Careful and Acceptor. In 1995 a market research project discovered that within the Black youth culture there are three main subcultures: the Rappers, Pantsulas and the Italians. While within the White youth subculture only thirty percent of youth identify with a subculture and the subcultures are far more numerous: alternatives, Punks, Goths, Technoids, Metalheads, Homeboys, Yuppies, Hippies and Grunge.

The following subculture groups were identified by students studying at the Baptist Theological College in South Africa: Achievers; Intellectuals; Belongers; Image-Conscious; Very Poor; Models; Heavy Metal Dudes; Rugby Boys; Metalheads; Hippies; Mainstream; Average Teenager; Fashion Fanatic; Intellectuals; Physical; Clubers; Family Centered; Workaholics; Pleasure Seekers; Hobby Fanatics; Religious Freaks; Head Banger; Punk; Home Boys; Skater; Gothics; Yuppies; Trendys; Rappers; Club-Hoppers; Metal Heads; Socialites; Independents; Uninvolved; Carefuls; Socialites - Pantsulas; Mapanga (Punks); Mapantsula; Strivers; Comrades; Preppy; Outrageous; Sexy; Sporty; Gothic/Satanists; Nerds; Intellectual Strivers; Socialites; Jokers; Gangsters; Independents; Traditionalists; Teenyboppers; Trendy Group; Arty Type; Alternative Group; Drug Culture; Gay Culture; Squatters/Vagrants Culture.

In the movie, The Breakfast Club, five teenagers are sent to detention for eight hours on a Saturday at their school (Shermer High School, Illinois). They are:
* Brian Johnson, a nerdy computer type, an intellectual who belongs to the Maths club
* Clair Standish, a ‘princess' - wealthy kid who is a popular type
* Andrew Clark - a sporty type who is in the school wrestling team
* Carl - a ‘criminal' type who has had a hard upbringing, a kid with an attitude
* Alison Reynolds - a strange girl, who is secretive, uncommunicative and dresses in black

The teacher, Richard Vernon, says that they have to write an essay that explains who they are. During the day in detention, these five young people who would otherwise never together socially begin to find out about each other. They share about their home, their parents, the things that they are able to do, and why they are in detention (they even end up sharing a dagga joint). Very soon they are bonding together. Someone asks the questions about whether they will still be friends when they see each other on Monday. Some admit that they would be ashamed to greet the other person if they are with their friends.

They get Brian to write the essay for the teacher. This is what he writes: Dear Mr Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention, what we did was wrong, but we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.

The movie starts and ends with this letter being read. During the opening sequence the following quote by David Bowie is written across the screen, while the song by Simple Minds, Don't You Forget About Me, plays in the background: "And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world are immune to your consultations. They're quite aware of what they're going through."

In the opening scene where the letter is narrated by Brian, the reading ends with: "That's how we saw ourselves at 7 o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed."

When social workers start to research a subculture group they often find that the members of the subculture group are less that helpful. Consider the following quotes:

"It is highly unlikely that the members of any of the subcultures described in this book (Reggae, Hipsters, Beats, Teddy Boys, Mods, Skin Heads and Punks) would recognize themselves here. They are still less likely to welcome any efforts on our part to understand them. After all, we the sociologists and interested straights, threaten to kill with kindness the forms which we seek to elucidate...we should hardly be surprised to find our 'sympathetic' readings of subordinate culture are regarded by members of a subculture with just as much indifference and contempt as the hostile labels imposed by the courts and the press." From: Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige, Routledge, 1967.

A 16-year-old mod from South London said: "You'd really hate an adult to understand you. That's the only thing you've got over them - the fact that you can mystify and worry them." From: Generation X by Hamblett and Deverson, Tandem, 1964.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III. ROCK MUSIC

 

Main Entry: 1rock
Pronunciation:
'räk
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English rokken, from Old English roccian; akin to Old High German rucken to cause to move
Date: 12th century
transitive senses
1 a : to move back and forth in or as if in a cradle b : to wash (placer gravel) in a cradle
2 a : to cause to sway back and forth
rocked by the waves> b (1) : to cause to shake violently (2) : to daze with or as if with a vigorous blow rocked the contender> (3) : to astonish or disturb greatly rocked the community>
intransitive senses
1 : to become moved backward and forward under often violent impact; also : to move gently back and forth
2 : to move forward at a steady pace; also : to move forward at a high speed rocked through the countryside>
3 : to sing, dance to, or play rock music
synonym SHAKE
- rock the boat : to do something that disturbs the equilibrium of a situation

Main Entry: 2rock
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Date: 1823
1 : a rocking movement
2 : popular music usually played on electronically amplified instruments and characterized by a persistent heavily accented beat, much repetition of simple phrases, and often country, folk, and blues elements

Main Entry: rock and roll
Function: noun
Date: 1954
: 2ROCK 2

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

 

ROCK, also called ROCK AND ROLL, ROCK ROLL, or ROCK 'N' ROLL form of popular music that emerged in the 1950s.

It is certainly arguable that by the end of the 20th century rock was the world's dominant form of popular music. Originating in the United States in the 1950s, it spread to English-speaking countries and across Europe in the '60s, and by the '90s its impact was obvious globally (if in many different local guises). Rock's commercial importance was by then reflected in the organization of the multinational recording industry, in the sales racks of international record retailers, and in the playlist policies of music radio and television. If other kinds of music--classical, jazz, easy listening, country, folk, etc.--are marketed as minority interests, rock defines the musical mainstream. And so over the last half of the 20th century it became the most inclusive of musical labels--everything can be "rocked"--and in consequence the hardest to define. To answer the question What is rock? one first has to understand where it came from and what made it possible. And to understand rock's cultural significance one has to understand how it works socially as well as musically.

1. What is rock?

The difficulty of definition

Dictionary definitions of rock are problematic, not least because the term has different resonance in its British and American usages (the latter is broader in compass). There is basic agreement that rock "is a form of music with a strong beat," but it is difficult to be much more explicit. The Collins Cobuild English Dictionary, based on a vast database of British usage, suggests that "rock is a kind of music with simple tunes and a very strong beat that is played and sung, usually loudly, by a small group of people with electric guitars and drums," but there are so many exceptions to this description that it is practically useless.

Legislators seeking to define rock for regulatory purposes have not done much better. The Canadian government defined "rock and rock-oriented music" as "characterized by a strong beat, the use of blues forms and the presence of rock instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass, electric organ or electric piano." This assumes that rock can be marked off from other sorts of music formally, according to its sounds. In practice, though, the distinctions that matter for rock fans and musicians have been ideological. Rock was developed as a term to distinguish certain music-making and listening practices from those associated with pop; what was at issue was less a sound than an attitude. In 1990 British legislators defined pop music as "all kinds of music characterized by a strong rhythmic element and a reliance on electronic amplification for their performance." This led to strong objections from the music industry that such a definition failed to appreciate the clear sociological difference between pop ("instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers") and rock ("album-based music for adults"). In pursuit of definitional clarity, the lawmakers misunderstood what made rock music matter.

Crucial rock musicians

For lexicographers and legislators alike, the purpose of definition is to grasp a meaning, to hold it in place, so that people can use a word correctly--for example, to assign a track to its proper radio outlet (rock, pop, country, jazz). The trouble is that the term rock describes an evolving musical practice informed by a variety of nonmusical arguments (about creativity, sincerity, commerce, and popularity). It makes more sense, then, to approach the definition of rock historically, with examples. The following musicians were crucial to rock's history. What do they have in common?

Elvis Presley, from Memphis, Tennessee, personified a new form of American popular music in the mid-1950s. Rock and roll was a guitar-based sound with a strong (if loose) beat that drew equally on African-American and white traditions from the southern United States, on blues, church music, and country music. Presley's rapid rise to national stardom revealed the new cultural and economic power of both teenagers and teen-aimed media--records, radio, television, and motion pictures.

The Beatles, from Liverpool, England (via Hamburg, Germany), personified a new form of British popular music in the 1960s. Mersey beat was a British take on the black and white musical mix of rock and roll: a basic lineup of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums (with shared vocals) provided local live versions of American hit records of all sorts. The Beatles added to this an artistic self-consciousness, soon writing their own songs and using the recording studio to develop their own--rather than a commercial producer's--musical ideas. The group's unprecedented success in the United States ensured that rock would be an Anglo-American phenomenon.

Bob Dylan, from Hibbing, Minnesota (via New York City), personified a new form of American music in the mid-1960s. Dylan brought together the amplified beat of rock and roll, the star imagery of pop, the historical and political sensibility of folk, and--through the wit, ambition, and obscurity of his lyrics--the arrogance of urban bohemia. He gave the emerging rock scene artistic weight (his was album, not Top 40, music) and a new account of youth as an ideological rather than a demographic category.

Jimi Hendrix, from Seattle, Washington (via London), personified the emergence of rock as a specific musical genre in the late 1960s. Learning his trade as a guitarist in rhythm-and-blues bands and possessing a jazzman's commitment to collective improvisation, he came to fame leading a trio in London and exploring the possibilities of the amplifier as a musical instrument in the recording studio and on the concert stage. Hendrix established versatility and technical skill as a norm for rock musicianship and gave shape to a new kind of event: the outdoor festival and stadium concert, in which the noise of the audience became part of the logic of the music.

Bob Marley from Kingston, Jamaica (via London), personified a new kind of global popular music in the 1970s. Marley and his group, the Wailers, combined sweet soul vocals inspired by Chicago groups such as the Impressions with rock guitar, a reggae beat, and Rastafarian mysticism. Marley's commercial success established Jamaica as a major source of international talent, leaving a reggae imprint not just on Western rock but also on local music makers in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Madonna, from suburban Detroit, Michigan (via New York City), personified a new sort of global teen idol in the 1980s. She combined the sounds and technical devices of the New York City disco-club scene New York City disco-club scene with the new sales and image-making opportunities offered by video promotion--primarily by Music Television (MTV), the music-based cable television service. As a star Madonna had it both ways: she was at once a knowing American feminist artist and a global sales icon for the likes of Pepsi-Cola.

Public Enemy, from New York City, personified a new sort of African-American music in the late 1980s. Rap, the competitive use of rhyming lines spoken over an ever-more-challenging rhythmic base, had a long history in African-American culture; however, it came to musical prominence as part of the hip-hop movement. Public Enemy used new digital technology to sample (use excerpts from other recordings) and recast the urban soundscape from the perspective of African-American youth. This was music that was at once sharply attuned to local political conditions and resonant internationally. By the mid-1990s rap had become an expressive medium for minority social groups around the world.

What does this version of rock's history--from Presley to Public Enemy--reveal? First, that rock is so broad a musical category that in practice people organize their tastes around more focused genre labels: the young Presley was a rockabilly, the Beatles a pop group, Dylan a folkie, Madonna a disco diva, Marley and the Wailers a reggae act, and Public Enemy rappers. Even Hendrix, the most straightforward rock star on this list, also has a place in the histories of rhythm and blues and jazz. In short, while all these musicians played a significant part in the development of rock, they did so by using different musical instruments and textures, different melodic and rhythmic principles, different approaches to song words and performing conventions.

Musical eclecticism and the use of technology

Even from a musicological point of view, any account of rock has to start with its eclecticism. Beginning with the mix of country and blues that comprised rock and roll (rock's first incarnation), rock has been essentially a hybrid form. African-American musics were at the centre of this mix, but rock resulted from what white musicians, with their own folk histories and pop conventions, did with African-American music--and with issues of race and race relations.

Rock's musical eclecticism reflects (and is reflected in) the geographic mobility of rock musicians, back and forth across the United States, over the Atlantic Ocean, and throughout Europe. Presley was unique as a rock star who did not move away from his roots; Hendrix was more typical in his restlessness. And if rock and roll had rural origins, the rock audience was from the start urban, an anonymous crowd seeking an idealized sense of community and sociability in dance halls and clubs, on radio stations, and in headphones. Rock's central appeal as a popular music has been its ability to provide globally an intense experience of belonging, whether to a local scene or a subculture. Rock history can thus be organized around both the sound of cities (Philadelphia and Detroit, New York City and San Francisco, Liverpool and Manchester) and the spread of youth cults (rock and roll, heavy metal, punk, and grunge).

Rock is better defined, then, by its eclecticism than by reference to some musical essence, and it is better understood in terms of its general use of technology rather than by its use of particular instruments (such as the guitar). Early rock-and-roll stars such as Presley and Buddy Holly depended for their sound on engineers' trickery in the recording studio as much as they did on their own vocal skills, and the guitar became the central rock instrument because of its amplified rather than acoustic qualities. Rock's history is tied up with technological shifts in the storage, retrieval, and transmission of sounds: multitrack tape recording made possible an experimental composition process that turned the recording studio into an artist's studio; digital recording made possible a manipulation of sound that shifted the boundaries between music and noise. Rock musicians pushed against the technical limits of sound amplification and inspired the development of new electronic instruments, such as the drum machine. Even relatively primitive technologies, such as the double-deck turntable, were tools for new sorts of music making in the hands of the "scratch" deejay, and one way rock marked itself off from other popular musical forms was in its constant pursuit of new sounds and new sound devices.

Rock and youth culture

This pursuit of the new can be linked to rock's central sociological characteristic, its association with youth. In the 1950s and early 1960s this was a simple market equation: rock and roll was played by young musicians for young audiences and addressed young people's interests (quick sex and puppy love). It was therefore dismissed by many in the music industry as a passing novelty, "bubblegum," akin to the yo-yo or the hula hoop. But by the mid-1960s youth had become an ideological category that referred to a particular kind of hedonism, individualism, and modernism. Whereas youth once referred to high-school students, it came to include college students. Moreover, rock became multifunctional--dance and party music on the one hand, a matter of serious attention and intimate expression on the other. As rock spread globally this had different implications in different countries, but in general it allowed rock to continue to define itself as youthful even as its performers and listeners grew up and settled down. And it meant that rock's radical claim--the suggestion that the music remained somehow against the establishment even as it became part of it--was sustained by an adolescent irresponsibility, a commitment to the immediate thrills of sex 'n' drugs 'n' outrage and never mind the consequences. The politics of rock fun has its own power structure, and it is not, perhaps, surprising that Madonna was the first woman to make a significant splash in rock history. And she did so by focusing precisely on rock's sexual assumptions.

Authenticity and commercialism

Madonna can be described as a rock star (and not just a disco performer or teen idol) because she articulated rock culture's defining paradox: the belief that this music--produced, promoted, and sold by extremely successful and sophisticated multinational corporations--is nonetheless somehow noncommercial. It is noncommercial not in its processes of production but in the motivations of its makers and listeners, in terms of what, in rock, makes a piece of music or a musician valuable. The defining term in rock ideology is authenticity. Rock is distinguished from pop as the authentic expression of a performer's or composer's feelings and the authentic representation of a social situation. Rock is at once the mainstream of commercial music and a romantic art form, a voice from the social margins. Presley's first album for RCA in 1956 was just as carefully packaged to present him as an authentic, street-credible musician (plucking an acoustic guitar on the album cover) as was Public Enemy's classic It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, issued by the CBS-backed Def JamDef Jam in 1988; Madonna was every bit as concerned with revealing her artifice as art in the 1980s as Dylan was in the '60s.

Rock, in summary, is not just an eclectic form musically but also a contradictory form ideologically. In making sense of its contradictions, two terms are critical. The first is presence. The effect of rock's musical promiscuity, its use of technology, and its emphasis on the individual voice is a unique sonic presence. Rock has the remarkable power both to dominate the soundscape and to entice the listener into the performers' emotional lives. The second is do-it-yourself (DIY). The credibility of this commercial music's claim to be noncommercial depends on the belief that rock is pushed up from the bottom rather than imposed from the top--hence the importance in rock mythology of independent record companies, local hustlers, managers, and deejays, fanzines, and pirate radiopirate radio broadcasters. Even as a multimillion-dollar industry, rock is believed to be a music and a culture that people make for themselves. The historical question becomes, What were the circumstances that made such a belief possible?

2. Rock in the 1950s

The development of the new vocal pop star

If rock music evolved from 1950s rock and roll, then rock and roll itself--which at the time seemed to spring from nowhere--evolved from developments in American popular music that followed the marketing of the new technologies of records, radio, motion pictures, and the electric microphone. By the 1930s their combined effect was an increasing demand for vocal rather than instrumental records and for singing stars such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Increasingly, pop songs were written to display a singer's personality rather than a composer's skill; they had to work emotionally through the singer's expressiveness rather than formally as a result of the score (it was Sinatra's feelings that were heard in the songs he sang rather than their writers'). By the early 1950s it was clear that this new kind of vocal pop star needed simpler, more directly emotional songs than those provided by jazz or theatre-based composers, and the big publishers began to take note of the blues and country numbers issued on small record labels in the American South. While the major record companies tried to meet the needs of Hollywood, the national radio networks, and television, a system of independent record companiesindependent record companies (such as AtlanticAtlantic, SunSun, and ChessChess), local radio stations, and traveling deejayslocal radio stations, and traveling deejays emerged to serve the music markets the majors ignored: African-Americans, Southern whites, and, eventually, youth.

Rural music in urban settings

Selling rural American musics (blues, folk, country, and gospel) had always been the business of small rather than corporate entrepreneurs, but World War II changed the markets for them--partly because of the hundreds of thousands of Southerners who migrated north for work, bringing their music with them, and partly because of the broadening cultural horizons that resulted from military service. Rural music in urban settings became, necessarily, louder and more aggressive (the same thing had happened to jazz in the early 1920s). Instruments, notably the guitar, had to be amplified to cut through the noise, and, as black dance bands got smaller (for straightforward economic reasons), guitar, bass, and miked-up voice replaced brass and wind sections, while keyboards and saxophone became rhythm instruments used to swell the beat punched out by the drums. Country dance bands, emerging from 1940s jazz-influenced western swing, made similar changes, amplifying guitars and bass, giving the piano a rhythmic role, and playing up the personality of the singer.

Such music--rhythm and blues and honky tonk--was developed in live performance by traveling musicians who made their living by attracting dancers to bars, clubs, and halls. By the late 1940s it was being recorded by independent record companies, always on the lookout for cheap repertoire and aware of these musicians' local pulling power. As the records were played on local radio stations, the appeal of this music--its energy, humour, and suggestiveness--reached white suburban teenagers who otherwise knew nothing about it. Rhythm-and-blues record retailers, radio stations, and deejays (most famously Alan Freed) became aware of a new market--partying teenagers--while the relevant recording studios began to be visited by young white musicians who wanted to make such music for themselves. The result was rock and roll, the adoption of these rural-urban, black and white sounds by an emergent teenage culture that came to international attention with the success of the film Blackboard Jungle in 1956.

Marketing rock and roll

Rock and roll's impact in the 1950s reflected the spending power of young people who, as a result of the '50s economic boom (and in contrast to the prewar Great Depression), had unprecedented disposable income. That income was of interest not just to record companies but to an ever-increasing range of advertisers keen to pay for time on teen-oriented, Top 40 radio stations and for the development of teen-aimed television showsteen-aimed television shows such as American BandstandAmerican Bandstand. For the major record companies, Presley's success marked less the appeal of do-it-yourself musical hybrids than the potential of teenage idols: singers with musical material and visual images that could be marketed on radio and television and in motion pictures and magazines. The appeal of live rock and roll (and its predominantly black performers) was subordinated to the manufacture of teenage pop stars (who were almost exclusively white). Creative attention thus swung from the performers to the record makers--that is, to the songwriters (such as those gathered in the Brill BuildingBrill Building in New York City) and producers (such as Phil Spector) who could guarantee the teen appeal of a record and ensure that it would stand out on a car radio.

3. Rock in the 1960s

A black and white hybrid

Whatever the commercial forces at play (and despite the continuing industry belief that this was pop music as transitory novelty), it became clear that the most successful writers and producers of teenage music were themselves young and intrigued by musical hybridity and the technological possibilities of the recording studiotechnological possibilities of the recording studio. In the early 1960s teenage pop ceased to sound like young adult pop. Youthful crooners such as Frankie Avalon and Fabian were replaced in the charts by vocal groups such as the Shirelles. A new rock-and-roll hybrid of black and white music appeared: Spector derived the mini-dramas of girl groups such as the Crystals and the Ronettes from the vocal rhythm-and-blues style of doo-wop, the Beach Boys rearranged Chuck Berry for barbershop-style close harmonies, and in Detroit Berry Gordy's Motown label drew on gospel music (first secularized for the teenage market by Sam Cooke) for the more rhythmically complex but equally commercial sounds of the Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. For the new generation of record producer, whether Spector, the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, or Motown's Smokey Robinson and the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, the commercial challenge--to make a record that would be heard through all the other noises in teenage lives--was also an artistic challenge. Even in this most commercial of scenes (thanks in part to its emphasis on fashion), success depended on a creative approach to technological DIY.

The British reaction

Rock historians tend to arrange rock's past into a recurring pattern of emergence, appropriation, and decline. Thus, rock and roll emerged in the mid-1950s only to be appropriated by big business (for example, Presley's move from the Memphis label Sun to the national corporation RCA) and to decline into teen pop; the Beatles then emerged in the mid-1960s at the front of a British Invasion that led young Americans back to rock and roll's roots. But this notion is misleading. One reason for the Beatles' astonishing popularity by the end of the 1960s was precisely that they did not distinguish between the "authenticity" of, say, Chuck Berry and the "artifice" of the Marvelettes.

In Britain, as in the rest of Europe, rock and roll had an immediate youth appeal--each country soon had its own Elvis Presley--but it made little impact on national music media, as broadcasting was still largely under state control. Local rock and rollers had to make the music onstage rather than on record. In the United Kingdom musicians followed the skiffle group model of the folk, jazz, and blues scenes, the only local sources of American music making. The Beatles were only one of many provincial British groups who from the late 1950s played American music for their friends, imitating all kinds of hit sounds--from Berry to the Shirelles, from Carl Perkins to the Isley Brothers--while using the basic skiffle format of rhythm section, guitar, and shouting to be heard in cheap, claustrophobic pubs and youth clubs.

In this context a group's most important instruments were their voices--on the one hand, individual singers (such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney) developed a new harshness and attack; on the other hand, group voices (vocal harmonies) had to do the decorative work provided on the original records by producers in the studio. Either way, it was through their voices that British beat groups, covering the same songs with the same lineup of instruments, marked themselves off from each other, and it was through this emphasis on voice that vocal rhythm and blues made its mark on the tastes of "mod" culture (the "modernist" style-obsessed, consumption-driven youth culture that developed in Britain in the 1960s). Soul singers such as Ray Charles and Sam Cooke were the model for beat group vocals and by the mid-1960s were joined in the British charts by more intense African-American singers such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. British guitarists were equally influenced by this expressive ideal, and the loose rhythm guitar playing of rock and roll and skiffle was gradually replaced by more ornate lead playing on electric guitar as local musicians such as Eric Clapton sought to emulate blues artists such as B.B. King. Clapton took the ideal of authentic performance from the British jazz scene, but his pursuit of originality--his homage to the blues originals and his search for his own guitar voice--also reflected his art-school education (Clapton was one of many British rock stars who engaged in music seriously while in art school). By the end of the 1960s, it was assumed that British rock groups wrote their own songs. What had once been a matter of necessity--there was a limit to the success of bands that played strictly cover versions, and Britain's professional songwriters had little understanding of these new forms of music--was now a matter of principle: self-expression onstage and in the studio was what distinguished these "rock" acts from pop "puppets" like Cliff Richard. (Groomed as Britain's Elvis Presley in the 1950s--moving with his band, the Shadows, from skiffle clubsskiffle clubs to television teen variety shows--Richard was by the end of the 1960s a family entertainer, his performing style and material hardly even marked by rock and roll.)

Folk rock, the hippie movement, and "the rock paradox"

The peculiarity of Britain's beat boom--in which would-be pop stars such as the Beatles turned arty while would-be blues musicians such as the Rolling Stones turned pop--had a dramatic effect in the United States, not only on consumers but also on musicians, on the generation who had grown up on rock and roll but grown out of it and into more serious sounds, such as urban folk. The Beatles' success suggested that it was possible to enjoy the commercial, mass-cultural power of rock and roll while remaining an artist. The immediate consequence was folk rock. Folk musicians, led by Bob Dylan, went electric, amplified their instruments, and sharpened their beat. Dylan in particular showed that a pop song could be both a means of social commentary (protest) and a form of self-expression (poetry). On both the East and West coasts, bohemia started to take an interest in youth music again. In San Francisco, for example, folk and blues musicians, artists, and poets came together in loose collectives (most prominently the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane) to make acid rock as an unfolding psychedelic experience, and rock became the musical soundtrack for a new youth culture, the hippies.

The hippie movement of the late 1960s in the United States--tied up with Vietnam War service and anti-Vietnam War protests, the Civil Rights Movement, and sexual liberation--fed back into the British rock scene. British beat groups also defined their music as art, not commerce, and felt themselves to be constrained by technology rather than markets. The Beatles made the move from pop to rock on their 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, symbolically identifying with the new hippie era, while bands such as Pink Floyd and Cream (Clapton's band) set new standards of musical skill and technical imagination. This was the setting in which Hendrix became the rock musician's rock musician. He was a model not just in his virtuosity and inventiveness as a musician but also in his stardom and his commercial charisma. By the end of the 1960s the great paradox of rock had become apparent: rock musicians' commitment to artistic integrity--their disdain for chart popularity--was bringing them unprecedented wealth. Sales of rock albums and concert tickets reached levels never before seen in popular music. And, as the new musical ideology was being articulated in magazinesnew musical ideology was being articulated in magazines such as Rolling Stone, so it was being commercially packaged by emergent record companies such as Warner BrothersWarner Brothers in the United States and IslandIsland in Britain. Rock fed both off and into hippie rebellion (as celebrated by the Woodstock festival of 1969), and it fed both off and into a buoyant new music business (also celebrated by Woodstock). This music and audience were now where the money lay; the Woodstock musicians seemed to have tapped into an insatiable demand, whether for "progressive" rock and formal experiment, heavy metal and a bass-driven blast of high-volume blues, or singer-songwriters and sensitive self-exploration.

 

4. Rock in the 1970s

Corporate rock

The 1970s began as the decade of the rock superstar. Excess became the norm for bands such as the Rolling Stones, not just in terms of their private wealth and well-publicized decadence but also in terms of stage and studio effects and costs. The sheer scale of rock album sales gave musicians--and their ever-growing entourage of managers, lawyers, and accountants--the upper hand in negotiations with record companies, and for a moment it seemed that the greater the artistic self-indulgence the bigger the financial return. By the end of the decade, though, the 25-year growth in record sales had come to a halt, and a combination of economic recession and increasing competition for young people's leisure spending (notably from the makers of video games) brought the music industry, by this point based on rock, its first real crisis. The Anglo-American music market was consolidated into a shape that has not changed much since, while new sales opportunities beyond the established transatlantic route began to be pursued more intently.

Challenges to mainstream rock

The 1970s, in short, was the decade in which a pattern of rock formats and functions was settled. The excesses of rock superstardom elicited both a return to DIY rock and roll (in the roots sounds of performers such as Bruce Springsteen and in the punk movement of British youth) and a self-consciously camp take on rock stardom itself (in the glam rock of the likes of Roxy Music, David Bowie, and Queen). The continuing needs of dancers were met by the disco movement (originally shaped by the twist phenomenon in the 1960s), which was briefly seized by the music industry as a new pop mainstream following the success of the film Saturday Night Fever in 1977. By the early 1980s, however, disco settled back into its own world of clubs, deejays, and recording studios and its own crosscurrents from African-American, Latin-American, and gay subcultures. African-American music developed in parallel to rock, drawing on rock technology sometimes to bridge black and white markets (as with Stevie Wonder) and sometimes to sharpen their differences (as in the case of funk).

Rock, in other words, was routinized, as both a moneymaking and a music-making practice. This had two consequences that were to become clearer in the 1980s. First, the musical tension between the mainstream and the margins, which had originally given rock and roll its cultural dynamism, was now contained within rock itself. The new mainstream was personified by Elton John, who developed a style of soul-inflected rock ballad that over the next two decades became the dominant sound of global pop music. But the 1970s also gave rise to a clearly "alternative" rock ideology (most militantly articulated by British punk musicians), a music scene self-consciously developed on independent labels using "underground" media and committed to protecting the "essence" of rock and roll from commercial degradation. The alternative-mainstream, authentic-fake distinction crossed all rock genres and indicated how rock culture had come to be defined by its own contradictions.

Second, sounds from outside the Anglo-American rock nexus began to make their mark on it (and in unexpected ways). In the 1970s, for example, Europop began to have an impact on the New York City dance scene via the clean, catchy Swedish sound of Abba, the electronic machine music of Kraftwerk, and the American-Italian collaboration (primarily in West Germany) of Donna Summer and Giorgio MoroderGiorgio Moroder. At the same time, Marley's success in applying a Jamaican sensibility to rock conventions meant that reggae became a new tool for rock musicians, whether established stars such as Clapton and the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards or young punks like the Clash, and played a significant role (via New York City's Jamaican sound-system deejays) in the emergence of hip-hop.

5. Rock in the 1980s and '90s

Digital technology and alternatives to adult-oriented rock

The music industry was rescued from its economic crisis by the development in the 1980s of a new technology, digital recording. Vinyl records were replaced by the compact disc (CD), a technological revolution that immediately had a conservative effect. By this point the most affluent record buyers had grown up on rock; they were encouraged to replace their records, to listen to the same music on a superior sound system. Rock became adult music; youthful fads continued to appear and disappear, but these were no longer seen as central to the rock process, and, if rock's 1970s superstars could no longer match the sales of their old records with their new releases, they continued to sell out stadium concerts that became nostalgic rituals (most unexpectedly for the Grateful Dead). For new white acts the industry had to turn to alternative rock. A new pattern emerged--most successfully in the 1980s for R.E.M. and in the '90s for Nirvana--in which independent labels, college radio stationscollege radio stations, and local retailers developed a cult audience for acts that were then signed and mass-marketed by a major label. Local record companies became, in effect, research and development divisions of the multinationals.

The radical development of digital technology occurred elsewhere, in the new devices for sampling and manipulating sound, used by dance music engineers who had already been exploring the rhythmic and sonic possibilities of electronic instruments and blurring the distinctions between live and recorded music. Over the next decade the uses of digital equipment pioneered on the dance scene fed into all forms of rock music making. For a rap act such as Public Enemy, what mattered was not just a new palette of "pure" sound but also a means of putting reality--the actual voices of the powerful and powerless--into the music. Rap, as was quickly understood by young disaffected groups around the world, made it possible to talk back to the media.

The global market and fragmentation

The regeneration of DIY paralleled the development of new means of global music marketing. The 1985 Live Aid event, in which live television broadcasts of charity concerts taking place on both sides of the Atlantic were shown worldwide, not only put on public display the rock establishment and its variety of sounds but also made clear television's potential as a marketing tool. MTV, the American cable company that had adopted the Top 40 radio format and made video clips as vital a promotional tool as singles, looked to satellite technology to spread its message: "One world, one music." And the most successful acts of the 1980s, Madonna and Michael Jackson (whose 1982 album, Thriller, became the best-selling album of all time by crossing rock's internal divides), were the first video acts, using MTV brilliantly to sell themselves as stars while being used, in turn, as global icons in the advertising strategies of companies such as Pepsi-Cola.

The problem with this pursuit of a single market for a single music was that rock culture was fragmenting. The 1990s had no unifying stars (the biggest sensation, the Spice Girls, were never really taken seriously). The attempt to market a global music was met by the rise of world music, an ever-increasing number of voices drawing on local traditions and local concerns to absorb rock rather than be absorbed by it. Tellingly, the biggest corporate star of the 1990s, the Quebecois Céline Dion, started out in the French-language market. By the end of the 20th century, hybridity meant musicians playing up divisions within rock rather than forging new alliances. In Britain the rave scene (fueled by dance music such as house and techno, which arrived from Chicago and Detroit via Ibiza, Spainvia Ibiza, Spain) converged with "indie" guitar rock in a nostalgic pursuit of the rock community past that ultimately was a fantasy. Although groups like Primal Scream and the Prodigy seemed to contain, in themselves, 30 years of rock history, they remained on the fringes of most people's listening. Rock had come to describe too broad a range of sounds and expectations to be unified by anyone.

Rock as a reflection of cultural change

How, then, should rock's contribution to music history be judged? One way to answer this is to trace rock's influences on other musics; another is to attempt a kind of cultural audit (What is the ratio of rock masterworks to rock dross?). But such approaches come up against the problem of definition. Rock does not so much influence other musics as colonize them, blurring musical boundaries. Any attempt to establish an objective rock canon is equally doomed to failure--rock is not this sort of autonomous, rule-bound aesthetic form.

Its cultural value must be approached from a different perspective. The question is not How has rock influenced society? but rather How has it reflected society? From the musician's point of view, for example, the most important change since the 1950s has been in the division of music-making labour. When Elvis Presley became a star, there were clear distinctions between the work of the performer, writer, arranger, session musician, record producer, and sound engineer. By the time Public Enemy was recording, such distinctions had broken down from both ends: performers wrote, arranged, and produced their own material; engineers made as significant a musical contribution as anyone else to the creation of a recorded sound. Technological developments--multitrack tape recorders, amplifiers, synthesizers, and digital equipment--had changed the meaning of musical instruments; there was no longer a clear distinction between producing a sound and reproducing it.

From a listener's point of view, too, the distinction between music and noise changed dramatically in the second half of the 20th century. Music became ubiquitous, whether in public places (an accompaniment to every sort of activity), in the home (with a radio, CD player, or cassette player in every room), or in blurring the distinction between public and private use of music (a Walkman, boom box, or karaoke machine). The development of the compact disc only accelerated the process that makes music from any place and any time permanently available. Listening to music no longer refers to a special place or occasion but, rather, a special attention--a decision to focus on a given sound at a given moment.

Rock is the music that has directly addressed these new conditions and kept faith with the belief that music is a form of human conversation, even as it is mediated by television and radio and by filmmakers and advertisers. The rock commitment to access--to doing mass music for oneself--has survived despite the centralization of production and the ever-increasing costs of manufacture, promotion, and distribution. Rock remains the most democratic of mass media--the only one in which voices from the margins of society can still be heard out loud.

 

 

I V. ROCK SUBCULTURES

 

1.    HIPPIE

 

Main Entry: hip·pie
Variant(s): or hip·py /
'hi-pE/
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural hippies
Etymology: 4hip + -ie
Date: 1965
: a usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic; broadly : a long-haired unconventionally dressed young person
- hip·pie·dom /
-pE-d&m/ noun
- hip·pie·ness or hip·pi·ness /
-pE-n&s/ noun

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

 

Hippie, member of a youth movement of the late 1960s that was characterized by nonviolent anarchy, concern for the environment, and rejection of Western materialism. Also known as flower power, the hippie movement originated in San Francisco, California. The hippies formed a politically outspoken, antiwar, artistically prolific counterculture in North America and Europe. Their colorful psychedelic style was inspired by drugs such as the hallucinogen Lysergic Acid Diethylamid (LSD). This style emerged in fashion, graphic art, and music by bands such as Love, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and PinkFloyd.

 

2.    PUNK

Main Entry: 1punk
Pronunciation:
'p&[ng]k
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1596
1 archaic : PROSTITUTE
2 [probably partly from 3punk] : NONSENSE, FOOLISHNESS
3 a : a young inexperienced person : BEGINNER, NOVICE; especially : a young man b : a usually petty gangster, hoodlum, or ruffian c : a youth used as a homosexual partner
4 a : PUNK ROCK b : a punk rock musician c : one who affects punk styles

Main Entry: 2punk
Function: adjective
Date: 1896
1 : very poor : INFERIOR punk game>
2 : being in poor health punk>
3 a : of or relating to punk rock b : relating to or being a style (as of dress or hair) inspired by punk rock
- punk·ish /
'p&[ng]-kish/ adjective

Main Entry: 3punk
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps alteration of spunk
Date: 1687
1 : wood so decayed as to be dry, crumbly, and useful for tinder
2 : a dry spongy substance prepared from fungi (genus Fomes) and used to ignite fuses especially of fireworks

Main Entry: punk rock
Function: noun
Date: 1971
: rock music marked by extreme and often deliberately offensive expressions of alienation and social discontent
- punk rocker noun

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

 

PUNK also known as PUNK ROCK aggressive form of rock music that coalesced into an international (though predominantly Anglo-American) movement in 1975-80. Often politicized and full of vital energy beneath a sarcastic, hostile facade, punk spread as an ideology and an aesthetic approach, becoming an archetype of teen rebellion and alienation.

Black leather jackets adorned with shiny metal spikes and studs, combat boots, spike multi-colored mohawks (mohawk - a strip of hair left on the top of the head, running from front to back), slam dancing, and fast 3-chord rock and roll; all icons of the movement know as “punk”. These are icons that defined the punk movement in the 70’s and 80’s, from the earliest forms to the later forms. These are what many have seen when they saw a “punk” walking down the street.
“Punk” is a word that was originally a term for a prostitute in England, 17 century (you can find it in W. Shakespeare’s play “Measure for measure”), then it was a jailhouse term for a submissive homosexual, and was slapped on as a label for a generation of miscreant mid-1960’s U.S. Garage bands that were experimenting with post-Beatles British influence and early psychedelics . The term later expanded to include the rest of the “miscreants” that erupted in the mid 70’s.
The punk movement emerged in the mid 1970’s. Most people disagree to just where the punk movement started. Some say that it developed in the US in NYC, others say it was an effort for the British youth to rebel against the current UK government. There are some who say that it was an art form, then there are some who believe it was a unorganized, combined effort between the US and the UK, that eventually developed into a sort of a “punk race”. Despite the controversy about whether the punk movement started in the US, the UK, or some other place in the world, it is sure the entire world has felt its force in the emergence of subcultures and its direct influence on the music styles of today.

If it is asked who the first punk band was, and the person answering held true to the belief that punk was born in the UK, many persons would answer that it was the Sex Pistols. SEX PISTOLS – rock group who created the British punk movement of the late 1970s and who, with the song "God Save the Queen," became a symbol of the United Kingdom's social and political turmoil. By the summer of 1976 the Sex Pistols had attracted an avid fan base and successfully updated the energies of the 1960s mods for the malignant teenage mood of the '70s. Heavily stylized in their image and music, media-savvy, and ambitious in their use of lyrics, the Sex Pistols became the leaders of a new teenage movement - called punk by the British press - in the autumn of 1976. Their first single, "Anarchy in the U.K.," was both a call to arms and a state-of-the-nation address. When they used profanity on live television in December 1976, the group became a national sensation.

I am an anti-Christ
I am an anarchist,
don't know what I want
but I know how to get it.
I wanna destroy the passers-by
'cos I wanna be anarchy…

 The Sex Pistols released their second single, "God Save the Queen," in June 1977 to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee (the 25th anniversary of her accession to the throne). Although banned by the British media, the single rose rapidly to number two on the charts. As "public enemies number one," the Sex Pistols were subjected to physical violence and harassment.

God save the Queen
the fascist regime,
they made you a moron
a potential H-bomb.

God save the Queen
she ain't no human being.
There is no future
in England's dreaming

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need.
There's no future
there's no future
there's no future for you

 God save the Queen
'cos tourists are money
and our figurehead
is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
all crimes are paid.

When there's no future
how can there be sin
we're the flowers
in the dustbin
we're the poison
in your human machine
we're the future
you're future
 

God save the Queen
we mean it man
there is no future
in England's dreaming

No future
no future for you
no fufure for me

Punks formed a style to disassociate themselves from society. They refused to dress conservatively, wearing clothing such as ripped or torn jeans, t-shirts or button-down shirts with odd and sometimes offensive remarks labeled on them. This clothing was sometimes held together with band patches or safety pins, and the clothing rarely matched; such patterns as plaid and leopard skin was a commonplace. It was not unusual to see a large amount of body piercing and oddly crafted haircuts. The punks dressed (and still do) like this to separate themselves from society norms.
Punks believed in separating themselves from society as much as possible; thus the odd dress and/or rude style. Many times these punks are associated with anarchy. Although most all punks were about anarchy, They believed that government was evil, and that a government society could never be perfect; the government was as far from Utopia as one could get. By the early 1980’s, punk went underground and underwent many changes. These changes were the formation of subcultures.

 

3.    MOD

Main Entry: 2mod
Function: adjective
Etymology: short for modern
Date: 1964
1 : of, relating to, or being the characteristic style of 1960s British youth culture
2 : HIP, TRENDY

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

The Mod was a product of working-class British youth of the mid-sixties. The popular perception of the mod was this: "Mod" meant effeminate, stuck up, emulating the middle classes, aspiring to be competitive, snobbish. The old image was one of neatness, of 'coolness'. The music of the Mod was strictly black in inspiration: rhythm and blues, early soul and Tamla, Jamaican ska. The closest thing to a Mod group was probably the Who - the music neatly caught up the 'pilled up'. London nightlife of the mod mythology in a series of effective anthems: 'My Generation, 'Can't Explain', 'Anyhow, Anywhere'. The drug use of Mods was of amphetamines ('purple hearts', French blues', Dexedrine) and pills, uppers and downers, and sleepers. Brake explains why the Mods existed by writing "for this group there was an attempt to fill a dreary life with the memories of hedonistic consumption during the leisure hours...the insignificance of the work day was made up for in the glamour and fantasy of night life." These were working class teenagers whose white-collar office work was a drudgery that, for many, would exist for the rest of their lives. The Mods had their “own” style of life, “own” music and “own” bands. They were different from another fashion victims not only with their clothes (suits, severe ties, long scarfs) but they led a secluded life, they were on bad with the strangers. They spent endless evenings in their “own” bars and had a great passion for scooters.

 

 

4.    SKINHEAD

Main Entry: skin·head
Pronunciation:
'skin-"hed
Function: noun
Date: circa 1953
1 : a person whose hair is cut very short
2 : a usually white male belonging to any of various sometimes violent youth gangs whose members have close-shaven hair and often espouse white-supremacist beliefs

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

 

Skinhead origins begin in Britain in the mid to late 1960's. Out of a youth cult known as the "Mods," the rougher kids began cutting their hair close, both to aid their fashion and prevent their hair from hindering them in street fights. These working class kids adopted the name "Skinheads" to separate themselves from the more dainty and less violent Mods. Huge groups of these explosive youths would meet every Saturday at the football grounds to support their local teams. The die hard support for a group's team often lead to skirmishes between opposing supporters, leading to Britain's legendary "football violence." When night swept the island, the skinheads would dress in the finest clothes they could afford, and hit the dance halls. It was here they danced to a new sound that was carried to Britain by Jamaican immigrants. This music went by many names including: the ska, jamacian blues, blue beat, rocksteady, and reggae. At these gatherings the skinheads would dance, drink, and laugh with each other and the Jamaican immigrants whom brought the music to Britian.

During the 1970's, there were many changes in the "typical" skinhead. For some fashion went from looking smooth in the best clothes you could afford with a blue-collar job, to looking like you were at home, even when you were out. For others the disco craze of the seventies hit hard, resulting in feathered hair, frilly pants, and those ugly seventies shoes. By the late 70's the National Front, Britain's National Socialist party, had invaded the skinhead movement. Kids were recruited as street soldiers for NF. Since skinheads were already a violent breed, the NF decided that if their young recruits adopted the skinhead appearance, the might benefit from the reputation. It was at this point that racism permeated the skinhead cult without the consent of its members.

Also by the mid 70's punk had put the rebellion back in rock-and-roll, opening a new avenue for street kids to express their frustrations. The shifting mindset brought kids into the skinhead movement as yet another form of expression. By the late 70's punk had been invaded by the colleges, and record labels, letting down kids who truly believed in its rebellion. From the streets came a new kind of punk rock, a type which was meant to be true to the working class and the kids on the street. This new music was called "Oi!" "Oi!" is short for "Hoi Palloi", latin for "Working Class", and the name stuck. Oi! revived the breath of the working class kids. Because of Oi! music's working class roots, the media scorned its messages unlike they had done with the first wave of punk. With the change in music came a new kinds of skinheads, and the gaps between the different types widened. Aside from the National Front's skinheads, the movement had been simply a working class struggle, rather than a right-left political struggle. With skinheads forming their own bands, political lines began to be drawn on the basis of right-left and even non-political politics. Politically right groups were often associated with the National Front and had distinct racial messages. Leftist groups looked at the working class struggle through labor politics. Non-political groups often shunned both sides simply because they chose to be political. The Oi! movement consumed most of the 1980's and is still alive today.

Skinheads have spread to every part of the globe. Each country supports an independent history of skinhead goals, values, and appearances. The definition of "skinhead" varies from country to country, which doesn't say too much since it also varies from city to city.

Starting in the late 80's, through present day, there has been a large resurgence back to the "traditional" values and appearance of the 1960's skinhead. This has occurred in Britain, America, as well as most of Europe. This has lead to even more tension, this time between "traditional," and "non-traditional" skins.

Influences of punk can be found in the skinhead culture. Skinheads were in existence long before the punk movement came around, and they were in healthy shape. The split in skinhead culture happened about the same time that the skinheads accepted punk. On one side was the traditional skinheads, known as “baldies”, and on the other was the racist skinheads, known as “boneheads”. Even today there is the negative connotation that skinhead stands for racism, which is hardly the case. But there is also a group that calls itself SHARPs (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice; militantly anti-racist skinheads). Skinheads went for a clean-cut look, thus the shaved heads, jeans that fit, plain white t-shirts (sometimes referred to as “wife beaters”), and work boots (“shit kickers”). Tension between the two skinhead cultures exists still today, and an ongoing war is still going on between the white supremacist nazi punk skinheads and the working class anti-racial skinheads.
The names of Oi! bands were sometimes cruel (Dead John Lennons, Millions of Dead Cops). 

 


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