Rock, pop and rap reimagined

July 30, 2015

Sing for Good Music History

Is your group having trouble deciding what song to sing for Sing for Good? Here’s a quick history of musical genres to get your creative juices flowing!

Music is everywhere, from the singing of birds to the sounds of car radios passing by. Most of us enjoy music daily, yet not many of us will probably ever give too much thought to where it has actually come from.

The origin of music genres date back many years ago meaning today’s music is often a blend of different styles and influences. Some genres borrow from others you may have thought you didn’t like!

The 1940s-50s saw the emergence of rock n roll. Yet core elements of the genre can be traced back to the 1920s. Fittingly, rock n roll music originally came from the southern parts of the United States, which is in many ways synonyms with slavery.

Yet it was in this dark period that African and European music met and fell in love. The rock n roll that you know and love today was created when rhythm and blues came together with country music.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard has credited Chuck Berry as being the man who gave birth to the modern rock riffs we are familiar with today. Berry is said to have achieved this by taking the two-note lead line of jump blues and converting it to electric guitar.

During Sing for Good, a popular genre will most likely be pop music. Pop music originated from the western world during the 1950s – 60s. Pop has been bemoaned for its lack of depth, yet there are many artists who use the structure of verse – chorus – verse to great and powerful affect.  Pop music draws on an almost endless supply of influences from other music around it.

Hip hop/rap music is probably the most controversial and polarising genre these days – just like rock n roll was once! Originally it was from West Africa where stories were told with the only accompanying instrument being a beating drum. During this period in the Caribbean stories were being told in rhyme.

Surprisingly rap also has been influenced (ironically) by plays such as My Fair Lady. This is due to what is known as the “patter song”, where the plays text is spoken very quickly and rhythmically and each syllable corresponds to a musical note. Patter song makes up majority of My Fair Lady Rex Harrison’s numbers. Over time it grew to include jazz and African tribal drumming before becoming hip hop.


Reggae and Jamaica seem to go hand in hand thanks to megastars like Bob Marley. But reggae was originally a type of Jamaican dance music. It then became influenced by American jazz, blues and R&B coming out of New Orleans.

As you can see, music has the power to transcend all known boundaries, such as language, race and religion. So as you decide what kind of song you and your group want to explore for Sing for Good be mindful not to rule anything out.

Understanding where the music you love comes from can open you to many new genres. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover brand new musical frontiers!

Inspired? Register now.


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