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Styles of 20th & 21st Century Music

Many types of 20th and 21st century music is expiremental in nature.
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The 20th century was a time of experimentation in music. As travel became much more assessable cities became more cosmopolitan which lead to the development of new types of music. The recording industry has heavily influenced 20th and 21st century music. Because of the recording industry various types of music became easily disseminated and various musical genres now prevalent in the 21st century began to emerge.


The 20th century was a time of experimentation in classical music. Composers during the beginning of the 20th century rejected what they considered the harmonic excess of the late 19th century romanticism. Although some composers chose to compose in older styles many sought to find their own way to simplify music. Types of early 20th century classical music included impressionism, expressionism and neo-classicism. Minimalism, which is a style heavily influenced by far eastern music, gained a popularity in the 1960's and beyond. In the 21st century many serious classical composers continue to experiment with avant garde techniques while others have returned to a conservative neo-romantic style.


At the beginning of the 20th century New Orleans was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the United States. The music we know today as Jazz was a fusion of many musical styles including blues, Latin American music, and European art music such as opera. The earliest jazz musicians were African Americans but it was a white jazz band, the Dixie Land Jass Band, that made the first jazz recordings and brought jazz to an international audience. The classic New Orleans style of jazz which was prevalent until the depression, evolved into swing music of the '30s and '40s. Since the second world war many different styles of jazz emerged including Bebop, Cool Jazz and Hard Bop and Fusion.


Blues is a genre of music as well as a form. The most common form of blues is the 12 bar blues although 8 and 16 bar blues are also common. The 12 bar blues refers to the number of measures of each theme or chorus. The blues developed in the southern U.S. particularly in the delta region of Mississippi and Louisiana. The blues developed out of the African American field work songs, gospel songs and rhythmic dance that were prevalent after the civil war. After the turn of the 20th century many regional styles of blues were found throughout the American south. The blues would be a key ingredient in jazz and rock music.

Rock N' Roll

Rock N' Roll developed from several musical styles including country, rhythm and blues and classic blues. Although the origins off rock n' roll cannot be traced to one single person, it is generally accepted by historians that rock n' roll began in 1954. Beginning in 1954, disc jockeys started to play shows which were aimed at white teenage audiences. These shows featured music by Chuck Berry, Little Richard and a little it later Elvis Presley. Rock N' Roll spread to Europe, especially England, during the 1960s. Now in the 21st century there are many sub genres of rock n' roll but they can all be traced to the styles developed by artists such as Chuck Berry.

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