The best party music lists put together sounds from all genres – Motown, RnB, Jazz, Pop, Rap, Rock and Roll, House music, and just plain old popular dance floor songs.
Music lovers don’t limit themselves to just one genre because most musical genres originated from two or more other styles.
Todays Blues sound floated out of the Mississippi delta area after the American Civil War.
From the time that African American slaves sang in the fields, they handed down songs from generation to generation, and by the late 1800’s their music was softened by the church gospel sound.
It was called the blues because its plaintive sound reflected turmoil and trouble in the singer’s soul. The most common format involved a guitarist singing out and then playing a response on his guitar. As decades passed it found a headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, and it influenced just about all popular music today – jazz, RnB, rock and roll, pop, and more.
Some of the best celebrations of music have been done in films, giving us awesome stuff for party music lists.
In 1972 Diana Ross was Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, about one of the original jazz and blues stars.
A little known but nonetheless outstanding 2008 release is Cadillac Records, about Fifties music producer Leonard Chess’s stable of blues singers ranging from Little Walter to Etta James to Muddy Waters.
People think that jazz simply evolved out of blues, but it actually exploded out of New Orleans in the early 1900s.
This was a place rich in the culture of Spanish and French blacks, and many of the earliest jazz musicians prided themselves on their study of musical technique. Jelly Roll Morton supposedly created the break in rhythm that featured solos within the songs, and jazz also enveloped both ragtime and boogie woogie.
1984’s The Cotton Club with Richard Gere and Gregory Hines was about a club in Harlem, but the music was all jazz.
The boogie woogie sound of the Thirties and Forties used an eight to the bar rhythm with strong chord progressions, and it was a marriage of blues with the country and western sound and a kick of gospel. It was usually piano-based, often with dual pianos, and a guitar.
As it evolved in the Fifties, lead and rhythm guitars became the mainstays, with a bass guitar and a drum to stabilize the sound.
Soon it became a subgenre of a broad, new type of music called rock and roll.
That term dates back to the early 1900s when it referred to sex or sexy dancing, as in Trixie Smith’s My Man Rocks Me With One Steady Roll. In 1935 Big Band leader Benny Goodman’s orchestra played Get Rhythm in Your Feet and Music in Your Soul.
But in 1951 Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed, playing both county and RnB music to suit both black and white listeners, coined the term for his playlist, and the name caught on for the popular beat sound of the times.
We think of Grease or Dirty Dancing as the movies with the best rock and roll soundtracks, but people forget American Graffiti, a film that wrote all over our cultural wall with its songs widely ranging from big band jazz to blues to rock. George Lucas gave it to us in 1973 before he ever thought of a little film called Star Wars.
Motown came to us as an RnB sound that evolved out of blues and incorporated the popularity of rock and roll.
Based in Detroit “Motor Town” as was rock and blues and jazz stylized with a heavy beat, and it became our introduction to soul music. A fine but little-seen documentary, 2002’s Standing in the Shadows of Motown, tells how Motown producer Berry Gordy found a small band of musicians whose sounds are heard on the number one hits of Motown’s greatest artists.
House music evolved in the late 1900’s as modern dance music, with an upbeat tempo, characterized by electronic sounds that blend well in dance clubs from song to song.
It was also known as Detroit techno, but it was born in Chicago and became popular in Britain at the same time.
All of these genres gave to us the free, flowing sounds we hear today, the party music lists that we love whether we’re black, white, brown or something in between.
Pop music can mean any of these styles, the tunes that made it to the top of the hits, or developed expressly for radio broadcast.
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