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Punk rock

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Template:punkRockInfobox Punk rock (often referred to simply as punk) is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, although some believe it to have started somewhere in the mid-60's with bands like The Velvet Underground and The MC5. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They created fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY (do it yourself) ethic, with many bands self-producing their recordings and distributing them through informal channels.

By late 1976, bands such as the Ramones, in New York City, and the Sex Pistols and The Clash, in London, were recognized as the vanguard of a new musical movement. The following year saw punk rock spreading around the world. Punk quickly, though briefly, became a major cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom. For the most part, punk took root in local scenes that tended to reject association with the mainstream. An associated punk subculture emerged, expressing youthful rebellion and characterized by distinctive clothing styles and a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies.

By the beginning of the 1980s, even faster, more aggressive styles such as hardcore and Oi! had become the predominant mode of punk rock. Musicians identifying with or inspired by punk also pursued a broad range of other variations, giving rise to post-punk and the alternative rock movement. By the turn of the century, pop punk had been adopted by the mainstream, with bands such as Green Day and The Offspring bringing the genre widespread popularity.

Characteristics[edit]

Philosophy[edit]

File:Ramones album cover.jpg
The Ramones' 1976 debut album. "The band's first four albums set the blueprint for punk, especially American punk and hardcore, for the next two decades"[1]

The first wave of punk rock aimed to be aggressively modern, distancing itself from the bombast and sentimentality of early 1970s rock.[2] According to Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone, "In its initial form, a lot of [1960s] stuff was innovative and exciting. Unfortunately, what happens is that people who could not hold a candle to the likes of Hendrix started noodling away. Soon you had endless solos that went nowhere. By 1973, I knew that what was needed was some pure, stripped down, no bullshit rock 'n' roll."[3] John Holmstrom, founding editor of Punk magazine, recalls feeling "punk rock had to come along because the rock scene had become so tame that [acts] like Billy Joel and Simon and Garfunkel were being called rock and roll, when to me and other fans, rock and roll meant this wild and rebellious music."[4] In critic Robert Christgau's description, "It was also a subculture that scornfully rejected the political idealism and Californian flower-power silliness of hippie myth."[5] Patti Smith, in contrast, suggests in the documentary 25 Years of Punk that the hippies and the punk rockers were linked by a common anti-establishment mentality.

Throughout punk rock history, technical accessibility and a DIY spirit have been prized. In the early days of punk rock, this ethic stood in marked contrast to what those in the scene regarded as the ostentatious musical effects and technological demands of many mainstream rock bands.[6] Musical virtuosity was often looked on with suspicion. According to Holmstrom, punk rock was "rock and roll by people who didn't have very much skills as musicians but still felt the need to express themselves through music".[4] In December 1976, the English fanzine Sideburns famously published an illustration of three chords, captioned "This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band."[7] The title of a 1980 single by New York punk band The Stimulators, "Loud Fast Rules!", inscribed a catchphrase for punk's basic musical approach.[8]

Some of British punk rock's leading figures made a show of rejecting not only contemporary mainstream rock and the broader culture it was associated with, but their own most celebrated predecessors: "No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones in 1977", declared The Clash song "1977".[9] The previous year, when the punk rock revolution began in Great Britain, was to be both a musical and a cultural "Year Zero".[10] Even as nostalgia was discarded, many in the scene adopted a nihilistic attitude summed up by the Sex Pistols slogan "No Future";[2] in the later words of one observer, amid the unemployment and social unrest in 1977, "punk's nihilistic swagger was the most thrilling thing in England."[11] While "self-imposed alienation" was common among "drunk punks" and "gutter punks", there was always a tension between their nihilistic outlook and the "radical leftist utopianism"[12] of bands such as Crass, who found positive, liberating meaning in the movement. As a Clash associate describes singer Joe Strummer's outlook, "Punk rock is meant to be our freedom. We're meant to be able to do what we want to do."[13]

Musical and lyrical elements[edit]

Punk rock bands often emulate the bare musical structures and arrangements of 1960s garage rock.[14] Typical punk rock instrumentation includes one or two electric guitars, an electric bass, and a drum kit, along with vocals. Punk rock songs tend to be shorter than those of other popular genres—on the Ramones' debut album, for instance, half of the fourteen tracks are under two minutes long. Most early punk rock songs retained a traditional rock 'n' roll verse-chorus form and 4/4 time signature. However, punk rock bands in the movement's second wave and afterward have often broken from this format. In critic Steven Blush's description, "The Sex Pistols were still rock'n'roll...like the craziest version of Chuck Berry. Hardcore was a radical departure from that. It wasn't verse-chorus rock. It dispelled any notion of what songwriting is supposed to be. It's its own form."[15]

Punk rock vocals sometimes sound nasal,[16] and lyrics are often shouted instead of sung in a conventional sense, particularly in hardcore styles.[17] The vocal approach is characterized by a lack of variety; shifts in pitch, volume, or intonational style are relatively infrequent—the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten constituting a significant exception.[18] Complicated guitar solos are considered self-indulgent and unnecessary, although basic guitar breaks are common.[19] Guitar parts tend to include highly distorted power chords or barre chords, creating a characteristic sound described by Christgau as a "buzzsaw drone".[20] Some punk rock bands take a surf rock approach with a lighter, twangier guitar tone. Others, such as Robert Quine, lead guitarist of The Voidoids, have employed a wild, "gonzo" attack, a style that stretches back through The Velvet Underground to the 1950s recordings of Ike Turner.[21] Bass guitar lines are often uncomplicated; the quintessential approach is a relentless, repetitive "forced rhythm",[22] although some punk rock bass players—such as Mike Watt of The Minutemen and Firehose—emphasize more technical bass lines. Bas