Music criticism 20s VS. 70s
By Jacob Rothschild.
During the 1910s, the great war had begun and ended. The 1920s would become the decade of freedom. After the great war, many people, even the richer ones, had lost much of their money and other belongings to the horrors of the war. The 20s music was supposed to emerge in order to entertain the people who had survived the war and might be horrified by the tragic warfare.
The 20s was also a decade that saw a rapid increase of the industry in the US and it spread fast to the whole western world. The economy has increased and the whole world thought that the future will just be brighter. The 30s was a decade filled with regrets and unrest in the world. The innocent 20s people don’t know what will come and therefore their joy is understandable.
In the US, the prohibition of alcohol made it impossible for business to sell alcohol at bars. This led to an underground market and underground bars who started to pop up a bit here and there. The bars that started to pop up and sold alcohol illegally were called speakeasies. After a while they started to evolve into dance clubs and started to hire singers and dancers.
There were many genres that were popular during the 1920s but the one who was the most popular and the one who inspired the other genres was Jazz. Jazz music had begun as early as in the 1900s when the black communities in New Orleans combined European and African styles to form jazz. During the 20s the jazz started to spread rapidly over the world and the 20s is considered the Jazz Age as jazz was so popular and important at that time.
During the 20s century many new inventions were invented that helped to spread the music. One of those inventions was the phonograph who was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. This led to a new industry that started to appear during the 1880s, the recording industry. When you could record the music it was easier to reach out to more people with your music. A few years later, the gramophone was invented and almost instantly replaced the phonograph as the gramophone was easier to use. The way to record music started to change during the 20s. Before the 20s, you used the acoustical way of recording but during the 20s it was mostly replaced by the electrical pway of recording. Changing from acoustical to electrical recording means a huge change for the whole music and recording industry. With electrical recordings, the sound sounded more natural and much better. The quality of the sound increased which helped to expand the popularity of music during the 20s. As the new recording industry started to really develop many recording companies started. These companies really helped to expand modern music. They took a risk when they invested in the recording industry as they didn’t know exactly how it would go. Their risks helped them and thanks to their adventurous minds with their song and artist choices, the recording industry and music industry as we know it today was born.
There are many famous people from the 20s. Some of them were Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Ted Lewis, Ben Bernie, Louis Armstrong, Sara Martin, Bessie Smith, Sophie Tucker, Florence Mills, Billy Jones, Vincent Lopez, Al Jolson, and many many more.
Some of the most famous work from the 20s are Rhapsody in blue, Bye bye blackbird, Rio Rita, Love her by radio, Black & Tan fantasy, My man, I wanna be loved by you, Ain’t Misbehavin’, In the Jailhouse now, and many more.
During the 1920's, dance bands started to evolve. As mentioned before, the way of reproducing music and record music was not that new at the time but got large improvement during the 20s. The way of making music also changed. One example of this is crooning. It was developed during the 1920s when the microphones started to use electricity to reproduce the sound. The microphone was not only used in crooning but also in the other genres such as jazz and swing music.
During the 1960s, a rebellion started where all authority was questioned by the younger generation. How the US was governed was heavily questioned as many popular figureheads had been assassinated and the Vietnam war was in full blown. Many younger people have heard of the Vietnam war and didn’t like the US interference as they committed atrocities all over Vietnam. The younger generation wanted peace and didn’t like the way the US acted and that their foreign politics were inhumane.
The 1980s is known for the happiness and the belief in the future rapidly increased. The Soviet Union had, under general secretary Gorbachew, started many talks with the US president Reagan. Gorbachew also started the Perestroika. It was the reformation and liberalisation of the Soviet Union to make the Soviet people more happy and closer to the west.
In other words, during the 80s many people saw that the future was bright. In the middle of the rebelliousness 60s and the bright 80s was the 70s. The 70s was mostly filled by the counterculture and hippie culture. The Vietnam war had seen its worst atrocities, some examples being the bombing of Hanoi and the 55.000+ Americans who died and many more Vietnamese, military and civilians. The youth movement to end the war forced the Americans out in 1975, ten years after the war started.
During the 70s, music was very important for the hippies and the way of expressing themself. An example of this is Woodstock, it took place in august of 1969 and was one of the starting points for the 70s freedom music. It was one of the most iconic music festivals of all time and contributed to shaping a whole generation. When the people came back from Woodstock, they came home as totally different people to a society they wanted to change. The freedom message that started to spread from Woodstock really gained power and publicity after the festival and that can really be seen when looking back at the 70s.
During the 70s, disco music is often the genre that most people associate the decade with. The disco music was often played at clubs all over the world. With large dance floors the disco music really gained strength by almost all generations. The freedom music made the dance floors not only a place for solidarity in a time of instability in the world but also a place where you could be yourself. Gay clubs opened all over the world and a clear majority of them where illegal. In Sweden, homosexuallity was illegal all the way to 1944 and from 1944 to 1979 it was classified as a mental illness. The disco music with its freedoms made it easier for people to talk about its homosexuallity.
There are many famous artist and bands from the 70s but some of them were Elton John, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, ABBA, Blondie, the Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Steve Wonders, Queen, the Jackson 5, Dolly Parton, John Lennon, Gloria Gaynor, the Eagle, and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Some of the most famous works from this decade are Bohemian Rhapsody, Stayin Alive, YMCA, I will survive, Hotel California, Dancing Queen, Imagine, Waterloo, Heart of glass, Jolene, I’ll be there, and Spirit in the sky. There are just a few of hundreds of thousands of songs that were released during the 1970s.
During the 1970s, disco music started to evolve. It really gained power in the world with the northest of the US as its birthplace. The disco music helped to provoke the nightclubs that we know today. The nightclubs were very important at the time. In a time when blacks, homosexualls, and other minorities were oppressed, the nightclubs gave them a free zone where they could be those they were. This led to a mass movement in favour of making equal rights to all the world’s citizens. The music itself was also very different from the 1960s rock. When disco music started to become popular it was clear that the two different genres were very different. The disco music lyrics were often more about light themes such as being happy, dancing, and love. Rock on the other hand was more about deeper themes such as betrayal, rebellion, drugs, and violence. The evolution from deeper themes to more lighter themes made it easier for the listeners to dance to that kind of music at it was easier to dance to than slower and deeper rock music. The evolution of disco music also used different instruments than from the 60s. More string instruments were used with disco music which gave it that lighter feeling that is easy to follow and dance to. It was more energetic in its beat which made it good on the dance floors.
During the 70s the main way to sell music was on cassette tapes or vinyl discs. The cassette was not invented in the 70s but it had its boom during this period. As it was compact and relatively easy to handle its popularity started to spread. You could have around 30-40 minutes of music on one cassette tape which made it easy to use. Another technologie that was developed during this decade was the compact disc, or CD for short. It is, as the names states, a disc that was even more compact and even easier to handle than the cassette tape.
There are many similarities with the 20s and the 70s. During both decades, the political landscape was quite similar. The 20s was a decade where everyone wanted peace and no harm. The same goes for the 70s. Even though the 70s was not as close to a recent world war as the 20s, the US was involved in many proxy wars which finally led to the point where mostly young Americans said stop and didn’t want to send more Americans to die in the world. The music during the 20s and the 70s emerged to bring people together to peace and harmony.
As they wanted to bring people together, music you could dance to in groups started to emerge in both of the decades. Jazz music and disco music are two genres who evolved in different decades but had the same goal, the goal to bring people to the dance floors. In both decades, bars and clubs were very important in order to spread the music and the happy message that most of the songs wanted to give.
Both the 20s and the 70s had a trend of illegal trends. Alcohol was prohibited in many countries, not only the US and during the 70s, homosexual people were classified as menally ill and in some counties it was illegal. As both of the decade wanted some kind of freedom and future they were rebels against the laws and norms. Black markets emerged when something is illegal. During the 20s, alcohol was smuggled and in the 70s, clubs for homosexualls started to pop up. Everything they did was in protest to the laws. If homosexuallity was legal, black clubs would probably not have opened and if alcohol was never prohibited in the US, speakeasies would probably not exist in the wide spread as they were.
There are many things that make the 20s very different from the 70s. Besides the fact that there is 50s years between them, the music styles, techniques and progress was very different. There are many things that the 20s and 70s have in common but there are also many things that differentiate them. One of those is how the music was being spread in the societies. In the 20s it was much harder to spread your music even though it was much easier than for example during the 1900s. The radio and other forms of recording techniques had evolved and were then capable of actually doing some good recordings. During the 70s these techniques had evolved even further. During the 70s, you could spread your music as even more modern ways of recording music was used. The early TV was invented in the late 20s so the TV was never used to show music. During the 70s that changed. Music could then be played on TV so more people could watch it.
Another difference is the fact that the decades had different genres as their most popular ones. Even though many of the genres were similar to a small degree you can’t say that they were the exact same.
Personally, I love the music from the 70s, especially the disco music. To me, disco music is something that you can listen to at all time. I find it really hard to say a situation where disco music can not fit in. You can play it in a club, at a party, or just if you are home alone and want to listen to something. Many of the 70s songs have become very iconic for the time and many people recognize them, even though it could have been 50 years since it was written. What I also like about the 70s is also the counter- and hippie culture that emerged with the help of the 70s music. It really speaked a new era for the future and I love that.
I have much to thank the 20s for and the music is one of them. If you feel down or just want some kind of background music, jazz music will always get you in the right mood. I can turn on some jazz or swing music and feel like I’m sitting somewhere in the 20s and enjoy my life. If I’m sitting in a cafe and jazz comes on then I will automaticly get into a nicer mood. Compared to the 70s music, I haven’t grown up with 20s music and so it hasn’t been part of my natural life. Therefore, my opinions of the 20s music have grown for the past few years when I have grown up and started to find my own music.
If I were to compare the 1970s with the 1920s, the 70s would win. I like the jazz from the 20s with all the new songs and techniques that emerged during that time but still. The 70s, according to me, was filled with much more music that you can still listen to today without feeling that it’s old.