Reporting: Summary

Exercise 10

In a paragraph of not more than 100 words, sum up the changes that took place in music around 1966-7, according to the passage.

The new music

The new music was built out of materials already in existence: blues, rock’n’roll, folk music. But although the forms remained, something wholly new and original was made out of these older elements - more original, perhaps, than even the new musicians themselves yet realize. The transformation took place in 1966-7. Up to that time, the blues had been an essentially black medium. Rock’n’roll, a blues derivative, was rhythmic, raunchy, teen-age dance music. Folk music, old and modern, was popular among college students. The three forms remained musically and culturally distinct, and even as late as 1965, none of them were expressing any radically new states of consciousness. Blues expressed black soul; rock, as made famous by Elvis Presley, was the beat of youthful sensuality; and folk music, with such singers as Joan Baez, expressed anti-war sentiments as well as the universal themes of love and disillusionment.
In 1966-7 there was a spontaneous transformation. In the United States, it originated with youthful rock groups playing in San Francisco. In England, it was led by the Beatles, who were already established as an extremely fine and highly individual rock group. What happened, as well as it can be put into words, was this. First, the separate musical traditions were brought together. Bob Dylan and the Jefferson Airplane played folk rock, folk ideas with a rock beat. White rock groups began experimenting with the blues. Of course, white musicians had always played the blues, but essentially as imitators of the Negro style; now it began to be the white bands’ own music. And all of the groups moved towards a broader eclecticism and synthesis. They freely took over elements from Indian ragas, from jazz, from American country music, and as time went on from even more diverse sources (one group seems recently to have been trying out Gregorian chants). What developed was a protean music, capable fan almost limitless range of expression.
The second thing that happened was that all the musical groups began using the full range of electric instruments and the technology of electronic amplifiers. The twangy electric guitar was an old country-western standby, but the new electronic effects were altogether different - so different that a new listener in 1967 might well feel that there had never been any sounds like that in the world before. The high, piercing, unearthly sounds of the guitar seemed to come from other realms. Electronics did, in fact, make possible sounds that no instrument up to that time could produce. And in studio recordings, multiple tracking, feedback and other devices made possible effects that not even an electronic band could produce live. Electronic amplification also made possible a fantastic increase in volume, the music becoming as loud and penetrating as the human ear could stand, and thereby achieving a ‘total’ effect, so that instead fan audience of passive listeners, there were now audiences of total participants, feeling the music in all of their senses and all of their bones.
Third, the music becomes a multi-media experience; a part of a total environment. In the Bay Area ballrooms, the Fillmore, the Avalon, or Pauley Ballroom at the University of California, the walls were covered with fantastic changing patterns of light, the beginning of the new art of the light show. And the audience did not sit, it danced. With records at home, listeners imitated these lighting effects as best they could, and heightened the whole experience by using drugs. Often music was played out of doors, where nature - the sea or tall redwoods - provided the environment.

(From The Greening of America by Charles Reich)

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