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One thing is the origin of a specific genre of music and another is its crowd or audience, which have the big cultural repercussions on their hands, as it happened with rock.

There is a need to make this particular difference because there are indeed too many genres of music to remember, there are so many ramifications and small variants at this point that many people just say that they listen about everything to avoid getting into a very boring and complex subject of labels and names.

However there is just not an audience for each genre of music that exists out there; if we take the word “audience” as a group of peoplethat listens to a type of music, we should also add to it the power of cultural movements and change.

According to Jordy Cummings:

The important distinction, thus, to make, when gauging the origin of a specific cultural form is not merely the origin of the form itself, but the origin of its audience, which can roughly be dated to 1955 and 1956, the years of “Tutti Frutti”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, and “Blue Suede Shoes”. This audience exponentially grew in the fifties, among young men and women, among white people and people of colour, largely due to the advent and mass-availability of television sets, ‘Hi-Fi’ systems, and the growth of music-oriented radio stations along with radio ‘personalities’.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

The Message

Rock adn Roll delivered a very simple message, it was one of autencity and rebellion against the suit and tie. At the time the world was steering towards a well oiled modern machine with the boom of media, advertising and technological advancement. For many people it was easy to find themselves in this sort of sentiment, and it spread fast and easy.

This was a message in a bottled that was then carried by the hands of bands like “The Beatles” to “Nirvana” and now artists like ” Jack White” and “Josh Homme” from “Queens of the Stone Age”.

The message is still the same, even though the eviroment has changed the establishment will always close doors and the counterculture will find their way to break its windows.

In and Out

While the rock audience used to strongly represent the counterculture, there is now a more of a gray area, since everything that has a strong enough impact is a money maker, this happened with rock as well.

As established entertainment conglomerates took over rock and roll and created its own star system, the means with which one could be unique depended far more on self-marketing, mystique and virtuosity. Or it could just as well mean being buddies with people at the major labels, hippies turned hip capitalists. Rock criticism, as form, started out in the“underground press”, including the newspapers of the far-Left, with smatterings of material in the journals of the intelligentsia, notably the New Yorker.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

It’s actually a bit strange because the nature of what makes rock what it is, revolves around the fact that it’s all about going against the establishment in some way, that “I don’t care attitude” and making music just for the sake of playing, however with such a big audience it’s hard for it not to be mainstream sometimes. With bands such as “The Beatles”, “Nirvana”, “Metallica”, or “Queen” there is a very underground beginning which ended in them being extremely famous, but there are some layers to this fame.

Different Rock Audiences

After the sixties, began a transition, which in turn changed the audience.

At its best, this transitional form led to real sonic inventiveness, even sometimes the use of traditional folk instrumentation alongside a rock rhythm section, other times predominantly covering other artists and quite literally superimposing Dylan with the Beatles, as was the case with the Byrds. In England, this took the form, for The Kinks in particular, of incorporating music-hall and vaudeville type songwriting.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

Rock also began to be a middle ground between all other genres, due to its flexibility an incredible amount of sub genres began to appear, but there was always the “rock” part of it alive in every single one.

As for the rock audience, they may very well be just people that want to enjoy something real, something that screams from inside and resonates with passionate locked ideas and inspire them to keep going, to be more specific is impossible after the 60s and 70s.