The 1960's covered a wide range of styles. The first half of the decade was generally simple, happy, good-time stuff, with an infectiously catchy melody, and 2 and 3 part vocal harmonies, and a beat you could dance to,
The second half was much wilder, with more mature lyrics (protest songs), experimentation with recording techniques, drug influenced lyrics and haunting, trippy melodies and somewhat weird instrumentaion and arrangements. Oh, and you couldn't really dance to it. Every song and performer had a uniqueness to them, unlike the pop music you hear these days, which is mostly derivative, with a sad, depressing funeral dirge in place of music. Ok..I'm half-kidding, but not by much.
It depends what kind of music you are talking about. John Coltrane was a very well known saxophonist and band leader during this decade. In the beginning of the 60s, he did much work with Eric Dolphy in creating a new kind of progressive music. He eventually went into more spiritual music and eventually, avant-garde. Charles Mingus was doing much work in this time period as well.
A wide array I would ponder a guess. I did not start listening to music until the mid 70's after high school, so a late bloomer? I got a bunch of hand me downs from friends then. What I listened to was 60's music, though it ranged from Frank Zappa to Credence Clear Water Revival, to BB King, and then danced with Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, and even a small collection of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash's version of Shel Silverstein's poem. I was more into reading earlier.
So, as far as characteristics? I think I made an effort to chase down poems I had read earlier that were released by various artists. I think if I chose a word or two for characteristics for 60's music it was transitional rather than breaking or transcendent. Breaking was the late 50's into the early 60's as jazz melded with blues and country added a bit and byte. Ballads mostly.
Late 60's heading into the 70's I ponder being transitional as a characteristic. Music could be said became more defined in one way with distinctions and loyalties to beginnings were more prevalent too. Like many guitarist were members of groups, yet they made their way back to their roots like Billy Gibbons, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, and even George Harrison and John Lennon too.
So, not being an expert of that era with overall music I think the biggest contribution was the fact of 33-1/3, eight track tapes, and mixing was becoming a defined science. Switched on Back was released in '68. The world tilted with that as the Moog Synthesizer fell into hands like Emerson and others. Switched on Bach caused a bit of a family Ruckus as mom bought it and dad was a die hard country boy. Tangerine Dream comes to mind too.
I'm Drifting oops!
The most memorable music form the 60's for me was R&B/Soul music. It was created and played by musicians in a band and generally recorded live in a studio with all musicians playing as if it were just another live gig. That is what made it sound so good because it wasn't a creation of just one producers idea of what the song should be. Some of it was based on formula like Motown with the hi-hat open on the 8th beat, 120 beats per minute and things like that but the key was the singers mostly sang "from their toes". It had a feeling and a drive that still shines through today after all those years. I hope it makes a major comeback. Today's music just doesn't have any character.
The 60's music represented an era of the first steps into rock n roll, love stories and broken hearts; through Motown music and of course, the Beatles. It was a time when a song told a story with a cool beat, like that of the Beach Boys and the gentle sway of Simon & Garfunkel. A rhythm of the soul, blended with harmony and the best times of ones life. Even the intro into a world of noticeable dreaded drugs and free love. : ) This is what it represented to me as a girl growing up amongst it all.
There was still a bit of actual Rock & Roll, straight Rock was in process and branching into Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, etc, Soul music was defining itself and preparing the way for Funk . . . the common characteristic of what was happening was that the 60s music revolution (that we are still running on the fumes of) was all (Rock, Soul, Pop, etc) firmly based in and drawn from American Blues music. Elvis, in the 50s, smashed Black music & White music together and gave us Rock & Roll - in the 60s, The Beatles, The Yardbirds, The Animals and the rest of the British invasion bands took Elvis' Rock & Roll and highlighted the Blues that it came from and gave us Blues-based Rock & Pop.
When Eric Clapton formed Cream, nothing would ever be the same and, as I said, we are still musically wading in the waters of the music of that era . . . think of it; Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman didn't sound in the 40s at all like the 'Camptown Races', etc, that preceded them, Elvis & Little Richard didn't sound in the 50s at all like Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman did in the 40s, and The Beatles & Hendrix didn't in the 60s at all like Elvis & Little Richard did in the 50s - yet today, music still sounds very much like it did in the 60s, there hasn't been that giant leap. The 60s defined the amplified Blues sound of Rock - and that's still where we're at today.
Oh how well I remember. The 1960s was one of the most dramatic and controversial decades in American history. Popular music was a powerful cultural, social, and economic force in the period, that has played an important role in shaping how the decade has been remembered. A whole range of sounds exist for this era. The list includes:
The Motown soul of the Temptations and Marvin Gaye; the folk revivalism of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez; the folk-rock syntheses of the Byrds; the surfing sounds of the Beach Boys; the free jazz of Archie Shepp and Ornette Coleman; the girl-group sounds of the Chiffons and Crystals; the southern-fried soul of Percy Sledge and Otis Redding; the lush Nashville countrypolitanism of Eddy Arnold and Tammy Wynette; the country-rock blends of the Flying Burrito Brothers; the progressive, psychedelic sounds of the Grateful Dead and the Doors; the self-reflective meditations of singer-songwriters James Taylor and Laura Nyro; the daring blues-rock-jazz blend of Jimi Hendrix; the pioneering funk of James Brown; the garage rock of the Standells and Seeds; and the avant-garde noisescapes of Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground—
Of course there are more musical groups not mentioned in the above list. What a time it was!
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