A Lesson in Music

Growing up in the musical era of artists that varied from Michael Jackson and Outkast to Whitney Houston and the Wu-Tang Clan, it is safe to say that I was born into a very interesting time period.

As a child, I had musical backing from artists mainly in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, as with most American children. If you were to ask any student of the music they listened to that is not recent, it would most likely come from that time period. I too love this time period but being a musician myself, I feel there is so much more to music than just the Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Prince and the Jacksons.

The Question I have to you is, do you know that what you are listening to probably came from another artist’s work? Do you know where it originated? Well here is your history lesson.

We will start in the 1920s-1940s, when music was the most pure. Pure in a sense that there was more instrumental music, and the dawn of classical blues and jazz. There is not a greater sound than those of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.

During this time period you had war and even the Great Depression, but that did not stop these musicians from cranking out what seemed like happy songs about life and love. If you need an example of reference: “Ol’ Blue Eyes” by Frank Sinatra, “My Way” or “As Time Goes By”. If you need more check out “The First Lady of Song” by Ella Fitzgerald featuring Louis Armstrong on “Summertime.”

You will find the songs lyrics were more different then and more like a story.My personal favorite part of this musical era is the instrumental sounds, you can not get any more musical than that! Needless to say, this era was pivotal to the development of some of the newer styles of performance and even genres. The 50s-70s, which is very familiar to many of us, happens to be my favorite musical era there are so many changes in style and delivery and the music was definitely the most poetic.

This was also the time period when you had the most vocal ensembles, and it seemed everyone had their own favorite group. Groups such as The Drifters, The Temptations, and The Beatles used beautiful harmonies and life instances in order to reach people.

Though there was much going on here in the U.S. involving racism and poverty, it seemed the one thing that could possibly bring people together was music. Then you toss in some Parliament Funkadelic, Gap Band, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and others and you wrap up some great years in music. This is not to say that music from the 1980s to present is not any good, just to show that you would not have the music today without the originals.

The best example I can give is just to pick a random artist from back in the day and just listen to all of their material and I will assure you that it has either been remade on someone’s album or sampled to make something new.

We would not have hip-hop if was not for the edgy sounds and ridiculous drum patterns of James Brown, Gap Band, or P-Funk! Examples, Jay-Z sampled “My Way”, by Frank Sinatra on his single “My Way”. Even Outkast remade “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

So in short, you can “jam out” to whatever you like but do not forget where it comes from.

Leave a Reply