Undeniably, all modern music has its roots in the classical concertos of old; the central tenets of classical music are almost always present in modern genres and, if not, it is a monumental feat to deliberately eschew them. Even so, rock music, as well as the harder (punk, metal, hardcore, etc.) genres – as evidenced by the widespread scorn with which punk rock, the predeces-sor of all modern hard rock, was regarded in its infancy – was, and arguably still is, viewed as too great a departure from the norm. Such is the nature of art, however; it is constantly evolving to suit or be ahead of its time.
Even in the short history of rock music, the genre has evolved and branched out tremendously; the “British invasion” and early punk have given way to all manner of esoteric sub-genres, the common de-nominator being loud amplitude and the primary instruments used to produce it. Inevitably, these sub-genres have commin-gled with other genres and created many unlikely hybrids.
Modern music has seen the mixing of genres including metal and classical, post-hardcore and electronica and even punk and country, thanks to bands like Apocalyptica, Breathe Carolina and Rat-tlesnake Gunfight, respectively. Granted, these are deliberate attempts at hybridiza-tion; other times it happens in a (seem-ingly) more natural manner, such as the folksy riffs of the Beatles. But that begs the question: where does rock music have left to go? One can scarcely even read a music review without seeing comparisons to other bands and artists, and many bands’ new releases are disappointments in terms of individual musical progress. Is it only a matter of time before rock music has exhausted its potential?
A common complaint I hear from in-dividuals by and large unfamiliar with the hard rock genres is that everything sounds the same. While this is not true to a nu-anced ear, I can certainly see where the point of view originates; much of mod-ern rock is influenced by previous music, rather than being pure innovation. That’s what makes it so exciting when something truly – or even somewhat – pioneering comes along. Take Paramore, for example: though their music itself isn’t much differ-ent from other pop-punk artists, part of the appeal that rocketed the band to fame was the use of a young, fresh-faced female vocalist – a new, marketable spin on a tried-and-true technique. A more quintes-sential pioneer is Nine Inch Nails’s Trent Reznor, who effectively created a genre by using synthesizers to soften the sharp edge of heavy metal while adding entirely new elements of sound. But Reznor’s work went on to influence other artists who then created music more in his image than in a new one.
Has the avant-garde of rock reached its ceiling? If genres as diverse as country and punk have been successfully combined, what’s left?
The future direction of rock music is up to the artists; it is up to them to create a sound unlike anything anyone’s ever heard before. It may not catch on right away, but it will eventually – in a society with a dearth of innovation, the new and intriguing is sure to provide almost universal allure.
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