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In the beginning, back in 1955
Man didn't know about a rock and roll show, and all that jive
The white man had the schmaltz
The black man had the blues
No-one knew what they was gonna do, but Tchaikovsky heard the news (he said...)
Let there be sound! And there was sound
Let there be light! There was light
Let there be drums! There was drums
Let there be guitar! There was guitar
AC/DC, "Let There Be Rock"

Rock is one of the three main American forms of music, along with Jazz and Hip-Hop, though it quickly became a global phenomenon. It was one of the dominant forms of pop music in the Anglosphere from the 1960s through the 2000s, and is still widely popular around the world.

So what exactly is Rock music? It typically includes electric guitar and percussion (most often with drumming in Common Time), but beyond that is hard to nail down — and there are even rock songs that don't use guitar and percussion. See the list of associated tropes below to get an idea.

Rock has its roots in The Blues and was influenced by early 20th century artists, but really got its start in The '50s, when pioneering artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard took R&B, added a little country, and created Rock & Roll. White artists like Elvis Presley helped take rock music mainstream, and by the late 1950s had taken over youth culture and was outraging parents, the first instance of The New Rock & Roll.

In the 1960s, The British Invasion signified the globalization of rock, as British artists inspired by American R&B took the world by storm. This led to a period of innovation that sowed the seeds for most of rock's subgenres, birthing a number of them including Blues Rock, Garage Rock, Folk Rock, Power Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Surf Rock, and Protopunk.

Rock continued to evolve in the following decades, producing a wide variety of subgenres, including the distinct variants Heavy Metal (although many metalheads view metal as a separate genre) and Punk Rock. A complete list can be found below.

See also Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock genres

Other rock musicians

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    Art Rock 

    Indie Rock 

    Pop Rock 

Tropes associated with Rock Music

Rock Bands and Musicians:

  • All Drummers Are Animals: Being a drummer can really showcase how a musician can go hog wild, both on and off the stage.
  • British Rock Star: Although the genre was developed in America, many notable rock acts have come from across the pond.
  • Dumb and Drummer: Compared to the training required to play the guitar or bass, it seems simple to play the drums by comparison, though virtuosic drummers have been known to exist.
  • Garage Band: Before they get big, many musicians would have their start in this or a similar setting.
  • Lead Bassist: Some bassists can get beyond the stereotype, especially if they lead the band or get remembered for the way they play the bass.
  • Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: Mostly in metal or hard rock, because pronunciation be damned the umlaut just looks cool.
  • Rock Trio: Sometimes a rock band is stripped down to the essentials: guitar, bass, drumkit.
  • Male Band, Female Singer: It is not uncommon for an otherwise all-male band to have a female vocalist that's the face of the band.
  • Myspeld Rökband: Can be found in a metal or hard rock act, though it can be found elsewhere too.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: With a few notable exceptions, being a bassist in a rock band is an unremarkable job.
  • Yoko Oh No: Could either be the cause or the scapegoat, but for whatever reason people would blame one for breaking up the band.

Music and Performance:

  • Big Rock Ending: What better way to end a song than to have a virtuosic instrumental ending.
  • Careful with That Axe: Even outside of metal, there is the possibility of an ungodly-sounding yell in rock music.
  • Epic Riff: Rock music has a lot of memorable instrumental flairs over the years, especially if it helps people identify the song.
  • Epic Rocking: You can certainly find this in Progressive Rock or an extended jam session.
  • The Four Chords of Pop: Some of the more poppier rock genres do go by the four chord convention.
  • Heavy Meta: Doesn't have to be metal, but sometimes a rock genre can get referenced in the song.
  • Metal Scream: From a low growl to a piercing shriek, there is quite a range of vocalizations, though this is largely associated with metal.
  • Microphone Swinging: Back when microphones were still attached to wires, some vocalists would have some fun with their mics
  • Miniscule Rocking: Typically used as a breather track, or as a leadup to a bigger one.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Sometimes a genre doesn't give way to flamboyant vocalization.
  • Power Ballad: Slower than the band's usual fare, to showcase the vocalists' talent.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Not exclusive to guitars, but musicians can break their instruments on stage
  • Yarling: Typically associated with 90s rock, especially Grunge and Post-Grunge, where the vocalist artificially darkens their voice.

Rock and Culture

  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Quite a few rock bands would have a creative name attached.
  • Air Guitar: Sometimes it is fun to mime along to that awesome rock riff.
  • Groupie: Fans that are more devoted than normal, especially in live shows and backstage.
  • The Power of Rock: Rock music would often be portrayed as uplifting, and fiction can even take it further by affecting the world around it.
  • Rock is Authentic, Pop is Shallow: From time to time, debates between rock and pop would come up. "Rockism" is a viewpoint born of this.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: If Rock is the Devil's music, why not get him involved?
  • Rockumentary: A look into the lives of a rock band, particularly as they perform.
  • Rotten Rock & Roll: Rock has often been used as a motif for a musical villain.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Rock has been perceived as having a fair share of hedonistic personalities.

Alternative Title(s): Rock Music