Technology's Role in the Birth and Death of Rock and Roll

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Abstract:

Rock and roll is a child of technology. Without electricity and amplification as its midwife, the music revolution that shook the world would most likely have been stillborn. For rock and roll, on a mainstream axis, technology was also its coffin. Without the electricity to power the guitar-based rhythm and blues, gospel and country sounds, rock and roll would most likely have been perceived as an off-shoot of any of these individual forms. Early methods of amplification and the electric guitar created a set of possibilities for sound and musical interpretation that lasted but a short while. On a mass cultural level, a larger share of the force behind the death of rock and roll enlightenment of the early 1970s falls to the collective impact of the Beatles and George Martin. The generational possibilities for growth and raw energy had changed and could not be retrieved. Although rock and roll never truly disappeared, it also never had the same cultural cachet that it commanded during its first decade or so.

Keywords: Beatles; amplification; electricity; rock and roll; technology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/eme.10.1-2.157_1

Publication date: February 2, 2012

More about this publication?
  • EME explores the relationships between media, technology, symbolic form, communication, consciousness, and culture. Its scope is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Media ecology provides a rich philosophical, historical and practical context for studying our increasingly technological and mediated society and culture with an emphasis on historical context.
    Media ecology scholarship emphasizes a humanistic approach to understanding media, communication, and technology, with special emphasis on the ways in which we have been and continue to be shaped and influenced by our inventions and innovation. The Media ecology approach is predicated on understanding that media, symbols, and technologies play a leading role in human affairs, and function as largely invisible environments affecting the way we think, feel, act, and organize ourselves collectively.
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