Rock – Concept, origin, history and subgenres

We explain what rock is, the origin and history of this famous musical genre. Also, its subgenres and the instruments it uses.

Rock is a fusion between music Country and the Rhythm and Blues.

What is Rock?

It is known as Rock to a set of varied genres of popular music, more or less descendants of the Rock n ‘roll original born in the United States in the 1950s, as a result of a fusion between the music Country and the Rhythm and Blues.

Typically, Rock is a genre recognized for the predominance of the electric guitar, with 4/4 time signature songs and a verse-chorus structure. But in its particular evolution it is difficult today to find really common characteristics.

In general, the themes of his songs point to the social, the political, and also love and emotion, with an emphasis above all on aspects such as composition, live performance and originality.

The diverse styles of Rock have served throughout the decades of representation and spirit to various urban collectives or “tribes”, and even social movements of a different nature, becoming at the same time a countercultural and anti-system flag, a vehicle for social denunciation and the claims of minorities, and also a representative of American culture and its economic, political and economic conquest. the social world during decades of imperialist behavior.

Origin and history of Rock

Elvis Presley is considered the king of Rock n ‘Roll.

The rock originated in the 1950s in the United States and that of 1960 in the United Kingdom. The first was known as the “golden age” or also the period of “Classic Rock”, in which Rock n ‘Roll emerged, whose first theme in history was That’s esta bien, Mother by Elvis Presley (according to other researchers it was “Fat man” by Fats Domino), considered the King of the genre.

During the 1950s, rock became popular on a large scale in the United States and the West, thanks to artists such as Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison, if not the great musicians of “black” Rock: Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard.

The success would be such that in Detroit, United States, Rock and Rhythm and Blues would begin a joint path, from which a soloist and famous dancer would emerge in the following decade: Michael Jackson, who would later become the “King of Pop.”

The 60s began with the “British invasion” whose first agents were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Who, among others. Shortly after, a veritable explosion of rock variants would occur, nurtured by the countercultural movement and the hippie spirit of the time.

Psychedelia, free love and the sexual Revolution deeply marked Rock, adding artists of the enormous stature of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed and bands like Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, of experimental cut.

In the 70s bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or Queen took elements from other musical genres, such as opera or Soul, to give birth to numerous styles of Rock: melodic and artistic, or fast and loud.

Punk Rock stands out, born in the United Kingdom at the end of the decade and clearly oriented towards a political content. In this decade bands like Génesis (with Peter Gabriel), Ramones, Yes, Alice Cooper, Van Halen and colossal artists like David Bowie stand out.

The 80s marked the return of Rock to more commercial aspects, eventually giving birth to Pop, with bands like Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, INXS, Billy Idol or, even more, Michael Jackson and Madonna. On the other hand, Alternative Rock is present with The Cure, U2, REM, Pixies and many more, along with the remnant of Punk.

The 90s brought a new British invasion, as well as the appearance of more disenchanted and sad aspects such as Grunge or Britpop, or more mechanizing such as Industrial Rock, which took sounds from factories and factories, and later gave rise to electronic music. . Legendary bands like Guns n ‘Roses, Metallica, Nirvana, Radiohead, Oasis, Blur, and Placebo made their entrance onto the scene.

Rock subgenres

Rock-Heavy Metal
Heavy metal is the strident variant of rock.

The subgenres of Rock are very numerous. However, a list of the main ones would include:

  • Surf Rock. Born in the USA, he takes beach life as his theme.
  • Folk Rock. Fusion music of blues, rock and folk music.
  • Psychedelic rock. Experimental variant and close to the experience of hallucinogenic drugs (especially LSD).
  • Blues Rock. With the solo electric guitar taking center stage, he combines Blues and Rock.
  • Heavy Metal. Betting on the speed and intensity of sounds, it is the strident variant of rock.
  • Progressive rock. Approaching jazz and classical music, he valued the symphonic and complex aspect of Rock, even aspiring to philosophical-esoteric content.
  • Glam Rock. Its name comes from “glamor” (glamorous) and it was a return to a certain simplicity compared to the more complex rock, during the 70s and 80s.
  • Punk rock. Under the slogan “There is no future” this genre took on the discontent and anger of the lower sectors of the United Kingdom under a countercultural and violent message.
  • Industrial Rock. Using the sounds of machines and metals, taken from factories, it is a Rock of capitalism: the machines, the noise, the regularity.

Rock Instruments

The electric guitar is the main instrument when playing rock.

The electric guitar is the great protagonist of Rock, to the point that its sound has become typical of the genre and is directly associated with it, especially in solos or “riffs”. Other typical instruments are the bass and drums, but also the keyboard or electric piano, and in more contemporary cases, the synthesizer is also included, an electronic device capable of producing novel and particular sounds.


Pop rock
Pop pays more attention to trendy beats.

Pop was born together with Rock, and it would become its more commercial and conventional brother, which pay more attention to trendy beats, to dance and more ephemeral but popular values. However, on its way it has varied as much as Rock, sometimes merging: Pop-rock.