America has no culture Part II – American music

Earlier, I talked about motifs in American culture. This was a response rant because San Francisco is full of douchebags who insist America has no culture. This time around, we’ll talk about American music.

America invented a lot of musical forms. We invented Blues, Jazz, Ragtime, Hip Hop, Country, Bluegrass, and of course Rock and Roll. Americans are creative people because our culture values originality. This is a good thing. I want to discuss each musical form separately.

Various forms of American music

The Blues. Blacks in the Deep South developed the Blues in the 1800s. Some historians trace it all the way back to the slavery days. Regardless, I want to throw in that the Blues is the single most important form of American music, period. From Blues came Ragtime, Country, Rhythm and Blues, and later Rock and Roll. Jazz even stole a lot from the Blues. Even Heavy Metal borrowed heavily from the Blues, although Metal music is the only form of music I’ve mentioned not invented in the USA (it’s from Britain).

Jazz. Black Americans invented Jazz in New Orleans, one of the cultural hubs of the United States of America. New Orleans proudly boasts itself as the birthplace of Jazz, and we all know it. Jazz has given us some of the best musicians the world has ever known. We use Jazz musicians as session musicians all the time, including our Producer who also plays drums on our first two albums (the second album coming out next year but the drums have already been recorded).

Of course, the 1920s was also known as the Jazz Age, and it was one of the most important decades in American history. We romanticize so much about this age, from the Prohibition, the speakeasies, and the height of the mob, to the Flappers and the first major sexual revolution. While all this was going on, Jazz was the soundtrack. And Jazz remains strong as a musical style to this day. And, it won’t be doing away any time soon.

Ragtime. Black Americans from St. Louis invented this genre in the late 1800s and it peaked in popularity before WWI. It already started declining when WWI ended.

Ragtime features syncopated rhythms, which we use a lot. I used to study Ragtime on the piano and you’ll hear bastardized grooves in our music, of course converted to Metal.

It started to decline because Jazz took its place. 1940s Jazz sort of rediscovered Ragtime and incorporated some of the fun elements, but there is currently no revival of this form of music today. I happen to love it because it’s technically American Romanticism, and it’s groovy as hell.

The Twentieth Century

Hip Hop. Black Americans invented Hip Hop in New York City in the 1970s. Everyone today knows what Hip Hop is, so I don’t think I exactly need to give a lecture explaining it. Actually, chances are you know way more about Hip Hop than I do. This musical style isn’t my forte by any means. I like The Roots, but that’s about it. My wife though absolutely loved Tupac and some other Hip Hop artists. My son’s a big fan of Enimen.

I did like more of the 80s stuff because it was a lot more lighthearted. I’m not a big fan of how music became so fucking serious in the 90s.

Bluegrass. Some folks say it’s an offshoot of Country. Some folks put it in its own genre. I’m in the latter category. I don’t like Country music, but I do like Bluegrass.

Bluegrass has mixed roots. It’s part Appalachian music, part British, and part Black American. Bluegrass songs are often based off old European folk songs and Americanized. Instrumentalists play basic melodies, then improvise heavily. Thus, it’s quite fun to play and great to listen to. I’ll never write a Bluegrass song as it’s not at all our style, but whenever there’s a local Bluegrass band playing and I got nothing going on, we’ll check them out and more often than not have a great time.

Country music. I’m the wrong person to discuss Country music as I don’t like it. Not knocking it, just not my thing. A friend of mine asked me to join his band once as a lead guitarist because he knew I played some pretty mean Blues, but I declined. I do regret it now as he drew a lot of gorgeous babes to his shows. Plus, it would have been a pretty good experience. Also, they were profitable, something I have yet to accomplish as a musician.

I will give the genre the credit it deserves. Often lumped together with Western, Country music is yet another solid American genre. Some of the most financially successful musicians on the planet come from this genre of music and I will readily admit it’s one of the most important (and lucrative) genres of music today.

Rock and Roll. Of all the genres of American music, Rock and Roll was the king for the longest. Rock and Roll dominated the music industry from Elvis until Hip Hop and Country replaced it quite recently. Now, it’s on a tailspin and a dying genre of music. Will it make a comeback? Who knows?

In summary, this article is Part II of my American culture article, proving that America not only has a strong culture of her own, but American culture is one of the strongest in the world. How many other nations can boast this many globally recognized genres of music?

I’m in San Francisco and pardon my French, but I’m really getting pretty fucking sick of the America haters who say things like America has no culture of its own and other bullshit along those lines. If America is so bad of a nation, then fucking leave! Seriously.

I earlier did American motifs. This article’s American music. I’ll probably write about great American authors next. Or at least the authors I like. I’m not a Hemingway fan for instance. I find him boring, but everyone else seems to love his work. That’s probably the next article in this series.

Anyways, the next time some asshole says America has no culture of its own, refer them to these two articles.

Also note that I didn’t even touch on some pretty significant forms of American music like Western, R&B, Funk, Native American music, Gospel, etc. You may even think of some pretty important forms that I’ve forgotten to discuss.

About

Roman is an artist, composer, writer, and travel junkie, and he can still throw a football

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