History of Rock Music

by Dr. Ruben Gonzalez

It is true that we judge a tree by its fruit, and this principle is more than valid when it comes to the phenomenon of rock music. However to properly understand what the effects of rock music are we shall first have a look at its roots so that we can understand why rock music effects us the way it does.

The history of rock music is steeped in the mysterious. This can only be so since its origins can be traced way back to the mysteries of the temple rituals of ancient, pagan Babylon. In fact its origins are purely religious, being an integral part of orgies and devil worship. This entire system of pagan worship, including the music, eventually filtered down into Egypt.

Egypt is where modern historians directly trace the origins of rock music. In fact we know quite a lot about music in Egypt. We know for a fact that it was used to alter the emotions, it was used to create mass hypnosis and especially to incite immorality. We also know what type of rhythms and harmonies were used and we can clearly recognize the elements of rock music. Aristotle writing about the effects of this music says,

"Emotions of any kind are produced by melody and rhythm...music has the power to form character. The manner of its arrangement being so important that the various modes may be distinguished by their effects on character. One for example, working in the direction of melancholy, another of effeminacy; one encouraging abandonment, another self control, another enthusiasm, and so on through the series."

These effects on character we will see in more detail a little later. Plato himself, however, gives us an insight into these effects.

"When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state always change with them (for) this spiritual license, finding a home, imperceptibly penetrates into manners and customs; whence, issuing with greater force, it invades contracts between man and man, and from contracts goes on to laws and constitutions, in utter recklessness, ending at last, by an overthrow of all rights, private as well as public."

"From ancient Egypt, it spread to West Africa, including Dahomey and the Congo. A significant dance tradition derived from the Egyptians is found in the western Congo." In fact this dance called the "Danse du ventre" could be mistaken for modern dance in that "the shoulders, buttocks, stomach and breasts are all separately or simultaneously rotated, wagged or otherwise set in motion." (ibid.) In fact a similar dance is the Voodoo, which is also a religion, and its origin is traceable to Dahomey. Music in these African cultures is intricately involved in devil worship, altering the conscious state and inciting sexual orgies. This music subsequently found its way across the Atlantic to America aboard slave ships.

"Enroute to the United States many slaves were taken first to the West Indies, especially Hispaniola; then after a time many were sold in New Orleans. They brought with them their religious and musical heritage. Those from Santo Domingo had retained their ancient Voodoo worship practices and continued them in New Orleans."

"One of the most exotic sights in old New Orleans was the slave dancing that took place in the Place Congo. The slaves custom of assembling on Sundays and church holy days to dance in public squares must have begun before 1786, for in that year a local ordinance was passed forbidding such dancing until after the close of religious services."

"The exposure of this African music and dance tradition to the public provided an opportunity for it to influence and be influenced by European musical tradition. The unique rhythmical emphasis of these dances plus many other ingredients and entertainment practices combined to form a music called JAZZ. Authorities agree that work songs from cotton fields, rural and urban blues, banjo styles from minstrel shows, syncopated brass bands and ragtime, all played an important part. Even Voodoo had its influence on jazz.". "The syncopation as a primary ingredient of jazz developed as a rhythmic accommodation of the Africans. Syncopation was the nearest and best substitute for the complicated polyrhythms that were an integral part of their musical heritage." It is this syncopation that causes music to "swing".

Jazz, the precursor of modern rock and roll, as we shall see, has a very interesting place in history. The name Jazz comes from the now defunct word jass, which means the sexual act." Jazz to the pagan is a symptom of a glorious release from the bonds of moral restraint. It came from the slums of music; it corrupted taste and manners." In fact jazz music was mainly developed for use in brothels, where each brothel would try to outclass the others by having the best jazz band. Eventually jazz evolved into what we know today as rock and roll, however it lost none of its heritage in its long journey from Babylon to Egypt to America and then to the world; it has simply been repackaged in a different form wtih the same rhythms and qualities which originated with devil worship, rebellion, and immorality.

"As its name implies, rock and roll was primarily a dance musicthe emphasis shifting from blues to rhythmand it was accepted as a focal point for teenage life, a common bond, an outlet for aggressions, a standard to rally around.... Further, rock and roll has an insistent, powerful impetusbasic backbeat and shuffle rhythms of rhythm and blues which demanded a physical response.. So the harsh, direct syncopation of rock and roll came as a physical manifestation of its contenta challenge to loosen up, to break the old molds of convention and propriety, to express real emotions. The musicians themselves moved and danced as they played, begging the listener to cast off his inhibitions" "Rock songs convey attitudes and ideas about the form of the dance itself, dancing as physical means of self-discovery, rebellion, release." "Its strength (has) always been rooted in the sexual energy of its rhythms; in that sense, the outraged parents who had seen rock as a threat to their childrens virtue were right. Rock and roll made you want to move and shake and get physically excited."

We have seen that the roots of rock come directly from the rites of pagan worship. Therefore the use and effects of it are the same today as then. Let us look at some of the effects of rock music.

Scientists tell us that music not only affects our emotions, but it actually causes a multitude of physical reactions in our bodies, such as changes in hormonal levels depending on what type of music it is. Not only does it do this, but certain kinds of music can coerce one to surrender his autonomy and to follow a crowd. "it is the rhythm that controls the activities of large groups...[It] furnishes a nonverbal persuasion not only to act but to act together." What, though, is it that rock music with its driving rhythms compels us towards? Mike Quattro a well known producer of rock shows tells us. "Rock motivates you internally, gives you a sensual feeling. A girl can be turned on by the music. It releases her inhibitions. The beat of the drum has always been a factor.. A girl realizes her own sexuality through the music."

Columnist Phyllis Schlafly tells of a letter she received from professional musician Jack Staulcup in response to an article she had written deploring the sex rock trend. She wrote in 1978:

"According to Staulcup, a steady diet of rock and roll junk promotes degenerate rebelliousness among teenagers that finds its outlet in drugs, alcohol and illicit sex... Staulcup concludes that rock and roll is the biggest legalized racket this country has ever seen. If we value civilization, we cannot afford to ignore any longer the high correlation between the multibillion dollar hard rock racket and the explosion of drug use and illicit sex among their teenage victims." In 1978, a California music therapist, investigating the effects of rock music on teenagers, administered to 240 school children aged 10 -18 an emotional stability test during which rock was played. The results were then examined by a psychologist who was unaware of the experiment. He concluded that the test had been given in a mental institution.

We can probably best see the effect of rock by listening to what the experts, those who write this very music tell us.

The Beatles say (in the late 60s), "Our music is capable of causing emotional instability, disorganized behavior, rebellion and even revolution."

Spencer Dryden: "Get them while theyre young; bend their minds."

Jan Berry: "The throbbing beat of rock provides a vital sexual release for adolescent audience."

Andrew Oldham(recording manager for the rolling stones) says , "Pop music is sex, and you have to hit them in the face with it."

Donnie Brewer of Grand Funk: "We take kids away from their parents and their environment to where the only reality is the rhythm and the beat."

John Denver, says of rock, "Rock music is a greater influence over the souls of men than primitive Christianity."

Johnny Bristol : "Sex is where its at in music... and I like it."

Glenn Frey of The Eagles: "Im in rock music for the sex and narcotics."

Debbie Harry, lead singer with Blondie: "Ive always thought that the main ingredients in rock are sex, really good stage shows and really sassy music, Sex and sass, I think thats where its at."

John Oates: "Rock n roll is 99% sex."

Chris Stein, lead guitarist with Blondie: "Everybody takes it for granted that rock n roll is synonymous with sex."

Frank Zappa, superstar of Mothers of Invention fame: "Rock music is sex. The big beat matches the bodys rhythms."

We could quote many more rock personalities who will tell us exactly the same thing; rock music is sex and rebellion. Dont think for one one minute that we are only talking about hard or heavy rock. The Beatles style of rock today seems very mild, but we have their own witness regarding their music. And dont think that the lyrics are the main factor in these terrible effects of rock music, since any one will tell you that in rock music "The words finally dont matter after all." Dr William J. Schafer tells us that "Rock music is communication without words, regardless of what ideology is inserted into the music." And Professor Frank Garlock says, "The Words only let you know what the music already says...The music is its own message and it can completely change the message of the words." To those who would propose the argument that music in itself is neutral and its the words that make it either moral or immoral, Dr Max Schoen in his book "The Psychology of Music" says, "Music is the most powerful stimulus known among the perceptive senses. The medical, psychiatric and other evidences for the non-neutrality of music is so overwhelming that it frankly amazes me that anyone should seriously say otherwise."

Scientific evidence about the effects of rock music are just as disturbing. In one article, ("Music to Kill Plants By") we are told that for two years during an experiment all pot plants exposed to rock music died within one month." Evidence floods us regarding the rebellion and immorality that rock incites in the youth, in fact we only need to look at the changes that have taken hold of society since the advent of rock to realize the truthfulness of this. Medical and psychiatric evidence also abounds for the negative of effects of rock music. In fact the current trends in society were well foreseen and warned about during the early years of rock and roll.

Another scientific experiment was recently performed to examine the effects of music on the brain. Two researchers Dr. Schrenckenburg, a neurologist, and Dr. Bird, a physicist, were involved in the experiment. They took 36 mice and divided them at birth into 3 categories the control group, (H) the harmonic group (those exposed to classical music with synchronized component rhythmic patterns) and (D) the disharmonic group (those exposed to syncopated music [rock]). For two months the (H) and (D) groups were exposed, night and day, to their respective music, maintained at a sound level of 80-85 decibels. The group was kept in a relatively quite room at 75 lbs. The environments were in all other ways identical.

After these two months of exposure, 12 mice, 4 from each group, were sacrificed and their brains properly prepared and frozen for latter study and comparison with what would be older mice by the time all had been sacrificed for study.

The other 24 mice were exposed to three weeks of maze "training". Then they were given three weeks of rest during which no testing or maze reinforcement occurred. This was followed by a three-week post latency period during which the mice were retested to establish the degree of learning and retention. Throughout this process, behavior changes and discrepancies were carefully noted. At the completion of the maze training, these 24 mice were sacrificed and their brains studied, along with the previous 12. The results of this were that the and (H) groups were very similar and no significant differences appeared. The (D) group showed the following changes

  1. Excess branching of the Neuronal Dendrites
  2. significant increases in mRNA
  3. Significant decreases in learning retention or memory
  4. Hyperactivity
  5. Aggression, (some of the mice resorted to cannibalism)
  6. Inattentiveness

This clearly indicates that the rhythms common to rock music cause brain nerve damage and behavior degradation.

In another interesting study the motor pulses produced by the brain to different musical stimuli were measured. The range of music included rock, blues, classical and ethnic samples. It was found that especially when rock music and jazz were played the motor pulses produced where the same as those produced normally by the brain during sexual arousal. The qualities of experience and mental energies displayed overt sexual qualities. Some of the ethnic music, also displayed these qualities mingled with aggressiveness.

When we see the origins and purpose and rock music we can not but agree with its scientifically proven effects. The rise in violence, immorality, drug use, rebellion, disregard for authority, increasing generation gap. The increase in suicides, murders, teenage pregnancy. All these are proof of the effects of this music, and yet we convince ourselves that there is nothing wrong with it. Rock music has been specifically engineered to break up families and to ruin society. Not only does it destroy everything that is respectable and good but it also physically destroys those exposed to it, it drives them insane, makes them emotionally unstable and causes brain damage. The main factors of rock responsible for this are the very things that make it so appealing: the syncopation, the polyrhythms and the dissonances, which themselves cause a rhythmic effect known as beating. The brains power of association also hightens the effect of rock music since every time you hear a rhythm, irrelevant of the present conditions, the mind will immediately dwell on what was associated with that rhythm the first time it was heard. This is imagery is generally Satanic, immoral or generally unsuitable for Christians.

How can something so evil so perverse be brought into the church. We think that we can somehow baptize rock music and make it acceptable. How can music which we know will strengthen the carnal passions be brought into the church and be used by it? How is it that we wont drink coffee because it harms us yet we listen to music which depraves and destroys in us not only our bodies, but the desire for everything pure and holy? How is it that we allow paganism a place on the rostrum, and feast our souls on sex. The music we hear becomes an experience for which we are accountable. Why do we lust after that which we know is completely evil, whose fruit we already know, even if it is not immediately evident? We have seen from science and history, and sociology and neurology, and psychiatry, the very nature of the phenomenon called rock music. We would do well to avoid it so that we do not become addicted by it. Or have we have already been burnt to the point where we no longer feel the pain?

. Aristotle, POLITICS, 1339a, b.

. Plato, REPUBLIC, bk IV, p425

. Earnest A. Budge, OSIRIS, Unviersity Books 1961 p 245.

. Marshall Stearns, Jean Stearns, THE JAZZ DANCE, Longmans ,Grand Co., 1965, p19

. Stearns p37.

. Eileen Southern, THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS: A HISTORY, W.W. Norton & Co. 1971, p135

. Stearns p50,51.

. H. Lloyd Leno, "Music and the Great Controversy." Our Firm Foundation, May 1987.

. Issa Goldberg, "Tinpan Alley"

William J. Schafer, ROCK MUSIC, Augsburg Publishing House, 1972 p.16,17

. ibid p.25

. Janet Pidell, THE REFERENCE SHELF - ROCK MUSIC IN AMERICA, The W.W. Wilson company, 1987 pp 46,47

. E. Thayer Gaston, "Music in Therapy." Macmillan Co. 1968 p19

. Ira Peck, ed "The New Sound Yes." Scholastic Book Services, 1966, p112.

The Olean (N.Y.) Times Herald, 1978, p.18

. Billboard, 11.12.67/

. People, 30.6.75

. Hit Parader, Sept 1979

. Circus, 31.1.76

. People, 21.5.79

. Life 28.6.68

. W, Shafer, "Rock Music"

. F. Garlock, "The Big Beat."

. The Columbus Dispatch Magazine, July 26, 1970, pp 24-27.

. G. M. Schreckenberg, H.H. Bird, Bulletin, New Jersey Academy of Science, Vol.32 No.2 1987 pp 77-86

. M. Clynes, J. Walker, " Neurobiologic Functions of Rhythm, Time, and Pulse in Music." Published in Music, Mind and Brain The Neuropsychology of Music, Plenum Press, pp171-215.