MUS 570D

Characteristics of Acid Rock, Jazz Rock, Art Rock, Glitter,
Punk, Heavy Metal, Mainstream, etc.

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ACID ROCK (San Francisco)

Most of the San Francisco bands had a few characteristics in common:

  • Drugs were an integral part of the music and lifestyle, so the name "acid rock" or "psychedelic rock" were commonly used.  The mind-altering drug LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) was not made illegal until 1966.

  • Volume levels rose to new highs, especially thanks to new audio technologies.

  • Because instrumentalists could more easily emulate a psychedelic trip than vocalists, the emphasis shifted from vocalists to instrumentalists.

  • Special electronic effects, such as distortion and feedback, were very popular since they either simulated acid trips via music, or otherwise tied in well.

JAZZ ROCK (combining jazz & rock)

  • brought rhythmic complexities to the rock style–not only re individual melodic lines, but in terms of mixed and odd meters (numerators of 5, 7, etc.)
  • brought harmonic complexities to the rock style–many "extended-harmony" chords, such as 9th, 11th and 13th chords, and other alterations ... more than the plain triads and 7th chords of traditional rock
  • also brought melodic blues lines to the rock style
  • Artists:  Blood, Sweat & Tears; Chicago; (Bill) Chase; Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Blues Project
  • JAZZ FUSION ARTISTS (jazz rock of the '70s):  (seminal fusion album was Miles Davis' Bitches Brew in 1970), John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Chuck Mangione, Jeff Beck, Weather Report, Steely Dan, Santana

ART ROCK (combining classical & rock)

  • contributed elements of classical form (structure) to the rock style, including the concept of musical theater and rock opera
  • contributed instrumentation–orchestral instruments added, such as strings, etc.
  • some works utilized classical quotes
  • some works utilized the connection of various rock songs in cycles, a la "song cycle"
  • some works combined rock band with orchestra, others actually blended the two together
  • utilized the concept of thematic development
  • Artists:  Moody Blues, Deep Purple, Procol Harum, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), The Who, Rick Wakeman and Yes, Genesis; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Frank Zappa


  • not a specific musical styles, but a performance image (offshoot of British mainstream)
  • musically, little difference between the sound of art rock and glitter rock
  • at the heart of glitter was the glorification and celebration of androgynous sexuality (%&)
  • Artists:  David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust, Mark Bolan’s Tryrannosaurus Rex, Gary Glitter, Mott the Hoople, Roxy Music. (Glitter influenced other performers–Elton John, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Boy George.)


  • similar to glitter rock, the focal point was extramusical
  • represented a rebellion against post-‘60s rock and against society in general
  • extension of the harder side of mainstream
  • attitude was one of anger, frustration and violence; anti-government, anti-society, anti-fashion; wore torn secondhand clothing
  • music was simple, repetitive and louder than mainstream rock; lyrics on the gross side; rejected long, technically-demanding instrumental solos
  • British Artists:  The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Elvis Costello
  • American Artists:  Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, The Talking Heads


loud louder
simple & repetitive simpler & more repetitive
singers shouted singers screamed
experimented with electronic distortion/feedback distorted everything
long, instrumental improvisations longer, louder instrumental solos
"counterculture" "anticulture"
  • British Heavy Metal Artists:  Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath
  • American Heavy Metal Artists:  Steppenwolf, Grand Funk, Alice Cooper, Kiss, MC5


  • British Artists:  Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart; softer side of mainstream: Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Peter Frampton
  • American Artists:  Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller Band, Journey, Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kansas, (Styx), (Foreigner, comprised of Brits and Americans)

PROGRESSIVE ROCK (continuation of art rock principles in the '70s)

  • used musical language of rock to create longer, more complex works that would hopefully be taken seriously as classical works
  • influenced by minimalism
  • sometimes incorporated nonmusical sound effects ... a la musique concrète
  • British Artists:  Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), Soft Machine, Gentle Giant, Henry Cow
  • Others:  Passport, Triumvirat, Terje Rypdal, Focus

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