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- Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for "Culture of
English Speaking Countries Lessons" for Xiangtan Normal University...
WESTERN CULTURE AND SOCIETY: THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA (USA) -
The History of American Music:
popular music includes many different forms, such as: Blues, Jazz,
Country, Rock, R&B, RAP, and Hip-Hop. When British pop music
of the 1960's hit America, almost everyone listened to music from
"The Beatles", "Rolling Stones", "Tom
Jones" and many other British groups and individual
America a wide variety of musical styles emerged. In the beginning
American music was largely dependent on European styles, in
particular British, Scottish, Irish, German, Italian, French and
African. By 1776 it had developed a more unique sound. The music
included ballads, dance tunes, folk songs, and parodies, comic
opera arias, bugle and drum calls, psalms, minuets, and sonatas.
Rock and Roll
grew from Black Rhythm and Blues with Country and Western. Rock
and Roll started out being labeled as rebellious, primitive, black
music. Some white artists like "Buddy Holly" introduced
Rock and Roll to the youth in the early 1950's, and their
influence along with others began the first true multi-racial and
multi-cultural movement in America. It was legendary Elvis Presley
bursting on the scene in the middle 1950's that signaled that Rock
and Roll had began to become accepted as legitimate.
Blues (now called R & B) can trace its roots from Jazz and old
black Gospel music. The narrative form (speech) and rich beat of R
& B has led to modern RAP and Hip-Hop. It is this music which
form the basis of the rhythms of modern American Popular Music.
From New Orleans Jazz, to the Motown Sound, to Urban Hip-Hop and
Rap, black music forms the core of contemporary music in America.
There is hardly a Rocker anywhere who can't trace their music's
roots to the sound of black America.
and Western music has its roots in the folk songs of the rural
south and the cowboy music popularized by the singing cowboys of
the 30's, 40's and 50's. It was also influenced by many songs born
of the strife and conflict of the impoverished miners and farmers
or the depression era.
The 1980's and
1990's saw a rebirth of the influence of the Latin rhythms in
American Music. The Miami Sound and the Mexican influence swept
into American Music. Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Mexican artist in
all forms added their music to the mix. Rap, Country, Rock, and R
and B have all been touched by the Latin beat.
explosion of the 1950's and 1960's was fueled by Rock and Roll on
Radio, Television, and the movies. The beat of Rock and Roll
became the dominant force of American music, and the lines between
the forms began to blend. Music forms are no longer segregated by
race today as the forms have merged across the lines of culture in
America. Today the effect of this mixing of music and culture can
be seen everywhere in the culture. Whitney Houston soulfully sings
a song written by Dolly Parton, Lionel Richey writes Country songs
for Kenny Rogers. Ray Charles has had some of his greatest hits
from Country and Western standards like "Your Cheatin'
Heart". Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, is a white
Rap artist who crosses all lines.
American Music in
the Twentieth Century:
1920's and 1930's
- This was the era that jazz was thought to have received its name. In
this period, jazz music saw the appearances of two of the greatest of
all time: Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. They brought about the
Big Band/Swing movement.
1940's - There was
a dramatic change in jazz. Most noticeably, the sound and intonation
produced had more edge and a more aggressive than the sound of a
typical swing band.
1950's - Jazz
drifted from the mainstream and became known as Hard Bop. It included
elements from the Bop era and was led by sax players Sonny Rollins,
John Coltrane, and trumpet player Miles Davis.
1960's - Rock also
had its revolution in the 60's. Some of the more influential rock 'n'
rollers were Dobie Gray, Chuck Berry, Chubby Checker, and Bo Diddley.
Elvis Presley, by most accounts, greatly popularized rock 'n' roll,
with his gyrating hips and risque movements. The Beach Boys introduced
a slightly different take on rock-- the surfer-dude sound. The Troggs
came along with "Wild Thing."Bob Dylan developed folk rock
in the mid-1960's. Bands such as Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, and
the Grateful Dead were among the great acid rock bands.
1970's and 1980's
- Throughout the 70's and 80's, jazz and rock became a new form called
fusion. It uses guitars and electric pianos that play fast unison
melodies. This method was popular throughout jazz fusion.
1980's - In the
1980's television networks like MTV and VH1 began to broadcast music
videos. Millions of people around the world tune into these stations
1990's - In the
late 1980's and early 1990's the hard rock sound began. The songs by
Nirvana and Pearl Jam spoke of the deep-running problems in American
society. Rap also became popular at this time. Run-DMC was among the
first popular rap groups. LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys were also
The late 1990's
and the beginning of the new millennium have been dominated by the
"teen-queens" like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and
Mandy Moore, as well as the "boy bands" such as NSYNC,
Backstreet Boys, and O-Town. While many of the old favorites like
Aerosmith are still popular, the sugar pop crowd rules.
Important Figures in American Music:
changed a great deal since the founding of the United States. It's
course has been altered forever by many artists. Here are a few of
the most famous musical artists:
Armstrong, also known as "Pops", is undoubtedly one of
the most influential people in Jazz history. Although even he
never knew his actual birthday, it is thought he was born in 1900
and, like Jazz, in New Orleans. His unique voice made him easily
recognizable and the way he played the trumpet was also as
distinctive. He became popular in the 1920's.
known as "The King," was the first major rock 'n' roll
star in American history. He used country, blues, and gospel music
to enchant his audiences. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. He
had a twin brother who died at birth. His family later moved to
Memphis, Tennessee. Elvis signed with RCA in 1955.
"Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," "Don't
Be Cruel," and "Love Me Tender" were some of his
greatest and most enduring hits. He also starred in films like
Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock, and Blue Hawaii. He married
Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967, after he returned from the Army in
Germany. He began his comeback almost immediately. The music scene
was changing, but Presley felt he could compete. Due to the stress
of travel and nightly shows, he died on August 16, 1977. Elvis is
still referred to as "The King."
Franklin is indisputably known as the "Queen of Soul."
She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1942. She later moved to
Detroit where she taught herself to play the piano and received
musical training from Reverend James Cleveland. She formed a
singing group with her sister and two friends. Her first public
appearances were in local churched. She also sang in the choir at
her father's church. Famous songs include "Respect"
(still a favorite today) and " Baby, I Love You." She
also received two Grammy's for "Respect." Her career was
exploding, raising her to "diva" status which is still
Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941. He changed his
name to Bob Dylan when began his musical career. His greatest
musical influence was Woody Guthrie. Dylan recorded his first
album, Bob Dylan, in 1961, for Columbia. None of the songs on that
album were written by Dylan. Freewheelin' Bob Dylan was the second
album. It contained several of his own songs. Many of his own
songs criticized the social evils that were so present in American
people at first believed that rap/hip-hop was not a true form of
music, it has entered the mainstream over the last 15-20 years.
This explosion can be attributed, at least in part, to Run-D.M.C.,
the first major rap group in America. Their first number one hit
on the Billboard chart was "Hard Times." Run-D.M.C.'s
partnership with Aerosmith on "Walk This Way" helped to
introduce the group, and rap, to white audiences. They focused on
the music's message, not its beat. They received an endorsement
contract from Adidas. After a minor falter in their career, they
came back in 1989. They released their fifth album, Back from
Hell, in 1990. Run-D.M.C. became active in the Christian community
and remain so today. Although their style has been more or less
replaced, they are still greatly respected by members of the
Country Music in
is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres of music alive
today. It was born in the backwoods and hills of the rural South.
Country music has played an integral part in American society,
especially in the South. Most major cities have at least three
country music stations. You can hardly walk a step in Nashville
without seeing something of significance to country music.
can generally be categorized into many genres: early country,
cowboy country, western swing, country-rock, bluegrass,
honky-tonk, rockabilly, new country, and alternative country. In
the 18th and 19th centuries country music came directly from
British ballads and folk songs. Storytelling through song and
old-time country featuring instrumentals with the fiddle while
talking were the major forms of music until John Carson. Carson
combined the two by singing and playing at the same time.
was a term originally intended to describe country's return to its
roots with added emphasis on electric guitars and drums. The sound
is closer to rock/pop than pure country. Garth Brooks, Shania
Twain, and Brooks & Dunn are all artists in this category of