Friday, April 1, 2011

Alternative Rock Music

Music is the rhythm of life and possesses the power to revive stale heart, mind and soul. Music has that great power of expression of an artist's mind, his zeal, emotions and vivacity. Music can make the blood flow in opposite direction and that is why music plays a vital role in nurturing revolution by providing great motivation. Alternative rock is also that precious stone picked up from the sea of innovation. Alternative rock is essentially an umbrella term for underground music that has emerged in the wake of the punk rock movement since the mid 1980s. Throughout its history, alternative rock has been largely defined by its rejection of the commercialism of mainstream culture. The music now known as alternative rock was known by a variety of terms before "alternative" came into common use. "College rock" was used in the United States to describe this awesome music during the 1980s due to its links to the college radio circuit and the tastes of college students.
In the United Kingdom the term "Indie" was preferred; by 1985 the term "Indie" had come to mean a particular genre, or group of subgenres, rather than a simple demarcation of status. As a musical genre, alternative rock consists of various subgenres that have grown from the indie music scene since the 1980s, such as grunge, Britpop, Gothic rock, and Indie pop. These genres are unified by their collective debt to the style and/or ethos of punk, which laid the groundwork for alternative music in the 1970s. Alternative bands in previous times used to play in small clubs, at that time there was no advertising medium so it was advertised through world of mouth as a result alternative rock became popular among youth. Alternative rock does not have any particular musical style but many performers have made up their own style by including distorted guitars. Sounds range from the dirty guitars of grunge and the gloomy sound scales of gothic rock is the specialty of alternative rock.
Lyrics in alternative rock songs typically address issues concerned with society such as drugs, depression and environment. Alternative rock has that approach that can awake youth and can make them realize their potential. Alternative rock performers differentiate themselves from their traditional rock predecessors as they want to sing it for a greater diversity and experimentation in music. Alternative rock performers produce catchy as well as motivational music. Though their music--with its emphasis on distorted guitars and ambiguous lyrics doesn't suit to commercialize society. Expressions explained by alternative rock songs are 3-4 minutes long, with catchy riffs and steady beats. Alternative rock aims to reach out to a new generation of youth with high energy, melodic music which spoke to contemporary social issues.
Defining music as "alternative" is often difficult because of the application of the word alternative. On one hand alternative describes challenging music that protest commercialization and mainstream values. On the other hand alternative word is used by music industry to mention available options. Whatever the meaning that word carries out, but the fact is that the alternative rock is exactly what present youth need to get motivated.

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Alternative Music

Alternative Music embodies a different musical approach and an "anything but" philosophy to the status quo of rock and roll. This movement in music has existed in other forms through the years. Punk, for example, was arguably a precursor to what later developed as Alternative Music. The basic idea of Punk Rock was to be antiestablishment. Punk deliberately made a different sound than Rock at that time by using different chords, more distortion, more feedback, and a real irreverent in your face attitude that at once was prevalent in Rock and Roll, but has long since subsided as Rock became mainstream. Once the subsidence into mainstream and complacency ensues, a movement inevitably arises that says "I'm tired of this...we need something new, anything but what we have now". And just like that, the new music begins.
Yes, the term "Alternative Music" means pretty much what it sounds like: a different sound to what you hear in mainstream rock and roll. Now, trying to define mainstream rock and roll is a little like trying to lick the bottom inside of a beer bottle. Just think of the music you hear on your local classic rock type radio station and that is basically mainstream rock and roll music. Bands like REM certainly came on the music scene as Alternative, as their sound and attitude was a break from the classic rock "behemoths" of bands like Boston, Kansas, and other bands of that era that aren't named after cities or states. The early 90's also brought a glut of alternative bands like the Seattle biggies Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.
College radio has proven to be a fertile ground for discovering new music. Professional radio music stations are saddled by the burden of playing popular music to remain popular among listeners and advertisers so they can continue to make bazillions of dollars in advertising revenues. College radio doesn't have that burden, so the music choices can come from a more liberal selection, and not just the latest Maroon 5 hit. Bands like REM have expressed their appreciation for College radio as it gave them and Alternative Music a considerable boost.
The idea of Alternative Music is music and bands that are not in the mainstream. Wellllll what happens when a band becomes so popular that it IS THE MAINSTREAM? Ahh, the classic dilemma. The debates rage on amongst fan boys everywhere: "I liked X band when before they were popular" and so on. REM, as great and original as they are, gradually became a mainstream band from their sheer longevity. This isn't to say every single band that becomes mainstream suffers a decline. I'm merely pointing out that Alternative Music in its essence is different than music that is widely accepted, aka POP.
The genre of Alternative Music currently is hard to define. The wave that started in the early 90s has subsided and has left a lot of carbon copies in its aftermath. The only thing to do now is to wait for the next big wave in music to come along and once again offer us what can only be known as "Alternative Music".

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Themes and Characteristics of Grunge

Grunge is generally characterized by a sludgy guitar sound that uses a high level of distortion, fuzz and feedback effects. Grunge fuses elements of hardcore punk and heavy metal, although some bands performed with more emphasis on one or the other. The music shares with punk raw sound and similar lyrical concerns. However, it also involves much slower tempos, dissonant harmonies, and more complex instrumentation – which is reminiscent of heavy metal. Some individuals associated with the development of grunge, including Sub Pop producer Jack Endino and the Melvins, explained grunge's incorporation of heavy rock influences such as Kiss as "musical provocation". Grunge artists considered these bands "cheesy" but nonetheless enjoyed them; Buzz Osborne of the Melvins described it as an attempt to see what ridiculous things bands could do and get away with. In the early 1990s, Nirvana's signature "stop-start" song format became a genre convention.

Lyrics are typically angst-filled, often addressing themes such as social alienation, apathy, confinement, and a desire for freedom. A number of factors influenced the focus on such subject matter. Many grunge musicians displayed a general disenchantment with the state of society, as well as a discomfort with social prejudices. Such themes bear similarities to those addressed by punk rock musicians and the perceptions of Generation X. Music critic Simon Reynolds said in 1992 that "there's a feeling of burnout in the culture at large. Kids are depressed about the future.” Humor in grunge often satirized glam metal—for example, Soundgarden’s "Big Dumb Sex"—and other forms of popular rock music during the 1980s.

Origin of Grunge

Mark Arm, the vocalist for the Seattle band Green River and later Mudhoney is generally credited as being the first to use the term grunge to describe this genre of music. Arm first used the term in 1981, when he wrote a letter under his given name Mark McLaughlin to the Seattle zine Desperate Times, criticizing his band Mr. Epp and the Calculations as "Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure shit!" Clark Humphrey, editor of Desperate Times, cites this as the earliest use of the term to refer to a Seattle band, and mentions that Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop popularized the term as a musical label in 1987–88, using it on several occasions to describe Green River. Arm said years later, "Obviously, I didn't make grunge up. I got it from someone else. The term was already being thrown around in Australia in the mid-'80s to describe bands like King Snake Roost, The Scientists, Salamander Jim, and Beasts of Bourbon."[3] Arm used grunge as a descriptive term rather than a genre term, but it eventually came to describe the punk/metal hybrid sound of the Seattle music scene.

Grunge Overview

Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is a subgenre of alternative rock music that emerged during the mid-1980s in the American state of Washington, particularly in the Seattle area. Inspired by hardcore punk, heavy metal, and indie rock, grunge is generally characterized by heavily distorted electric guitars, contrasting song dynamics, and apathetic or angst-filled lyrics. The grunge aesthetic is stripped-down compared to other forms of rock music, and many grunge musicians were noted for their unkempt appearances and rejection of theatrics.

The early grunge movement coalesced around Seattle independent record label Sub Pop in the late 1980s. Grunge became commercially successful in the first half of the 1990s, due mainly to the release of Nirvana's Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten. The success of these bands boosted the popularity of alternative rock and made grunge the most popular form of hard rock music at the time. However, many grunge bands were uncomfortable with this popularity. Although most grunge bands had disbanded or faded from view by the late 1990s, their influence continues to affect modern rock music.