Rock Music

[Music ★★★]


(P1) Few people might consider how today’s modern rock music evolved and where it began. By tracing rock music to its historical roots, we can discover that rock music evolved from an African American art form known as blues music.

(P2) Early blues music developed in the 19th century. It was very much an expression of sadness, which had evolved from the songs sung by African slaves as a way of coping with the harsh working conditions in the cotton fields of the American Deep South. These songs, in turn, have their roots in traditional African music. The calls and responses that workers used to communicate with each other in the fields also formed a fundamental structure of early gospel music, which also had a lyrical call and response structure.

(P3) Originally the music was purely vocal, but it evolved as time went by. After the abolition of slavery, guitars and other instruments were incorporated into the ensemble. Eventually, other forms of music began to diversify from the blues roots; such as gospel, ragtime, jazz, and eventually rock and roll.

(P4) Many early rock and roll songs such as those by Elvis Presley relied heavily on the traditional “12 bar blues” chord structure. This musical form merged with European influences during the 1960s and 1970s to become modern rock music. Nowadays, rock music is constantly evolving and branching out into new genres.

WORDS: 228


VOCABULARY: evolved, roots, coping, abolition, ensemble, chord, branching out


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What genres of music to you like? Why?
  3. Does your country have any traditional musical instruments? If yes, describe one?
  4. Who are some of your favorite bands and singers? Why?


  1. According to the article, rock n roll developed from __________music.
  2. Blues music was used to express _____________.
  3. In the beginning, blues music was solely ___________.
  4. Besides rock and roll, blues music helped develop other types of music like __________, _____________, and ___________.
  5. According to the article, rock music continues to develop into new types. (T or F)


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • tracing rock music (P1)
  • in the fields (P2)
  • lyrical call and response structure (P2)
  • as time went by (P3)

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