Attachment to the “Definition of Classic Rock” Willie's Notes and Babblings   

I thank all in advance to those who will comment to make this a “Consensus” definition from Music Enthusiasts who have a passion for Classic Rock…   Rock On ♪♪♪   Willie    

Characteristics of Classic Rock and Research that made up the criteria I used to make my Draft for Comment…    

To be frank, after thoroughly searching using AI, I found there is NO clear, consensus definition of Classic Rock.  Although there are numerous attempts, in my view, the best attempt is written by Dave White, who wrote “There’s little agreement on the definition of Classic Rock, much less the more specialized elements of Classic Rock.” Rock 'n' Roll also appears in many dictionaries, but its definitions vary substantially.”

To get through the research necessary to create a draft Definition, I have documented the elements of every Track, by year, that moved Rock music along; Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, and Elvis who took it through to 1963… Then along came the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February 1964 that changed the course of Rock Music forever and I have analyzed every popular Track to 1984.  

Note: you can find the Timeline of Classic Rock evolution at Classic Rock ( under the heading “Classic Rock Music.”   If you do not feel that the Beatles were the most influential Band in popular Rock Music history… then you are dead wrong!... If there is one consensus in the Music Industry that very few dispute is that they are the “Quintessential” Rock Band, who started the British Invasion inspiring hundreds of Bands to imitate them… their Discography took Elvis’ degree of “Fan Power” to the next level… their innovative Sounds, Melodies, and Styles made them the #1 all-time Classic Rock Band! 

The Beatles heavily contributed to the appearance of “Timeless Rock”… whereby many who listen to a Rock Track will remember the time one spent when they first heard it.   Influential social historian Arthur Marwick said that The Beatles helped changed attitudes about how the Young could behave and ushered in a “mini-renaissance in the rights of individual expression”, persuading a Generation that “all we need is love”… (I am one of those)  

Let us move on to my research says that the term “Classic Rock” first became common by Radio Stations that added it to their call sign… such as Cleveland’s Majic 105.7 beginning in 1980 as “Cleveland’s Classic Rock”. By 1986, the formats success accounted for up to 80% of the Tracks played of Rock Stations according to Billboard Magazine’s Kim Freeman. My task was to identify that 80%...  

That being said, one of the main purposes of the Classic Rock Community of Members is to create a consensus List of all of the facets of Classic Rock by voting their views and compiling the results… including the Definition of Classic Rock.  So here is a “Strawman” version for comment.      

Classic Rock is NOT a Sub-genre of Rock n Roll… yes, it has its Roots from the Fusion of Blues and Jazz (called Blazz) plus other genres such as R&B, Country, Gospel, Hard, and Progressive/Alternative Rock… Does CR have a true distinctive sound unto itself?... yes and no.  CR is mostly driven by the numerous sounds of various Guitars with a strong “backbeat” usually 4/4 Rhythm, various Drums and Cymbals, and some Keyboards… plus a Lead Vocalist with a distinctive Sound… accompanied by conventional instruments (Horns, Woodwind, Piano, and Harmonica) plus un-conventional sounds from Harps, Cowbells, to synthetic electronic Sounds).  

Yes, it is a fact that Radio played a significant role in recognizing CR Tracks… from the Payola days of the 50s to the Stations that play 80% of their tracks from the 80s… when Boomers and their Children (Millennials) were by Radio Stations in the 40 major Cities… one can use the “Big Chill” type Album Soundtrack as one of the catalysts that brought “Oldies” to the forefront and every top CR Band started marketing their “Greatest Hits”. If you take a snapshot of the 1,000 Bands that play Rock-type Music, Classic Rock fits in the middle range of Rock throughout time… with the Progressive, Hard, and Alternative Rockers riding above the extreme line and the Soft, Country, Folk, and Christian Rockers below the middle. 

That is not to say that a traditional Classic Rock Band does not step outside the Bounds of Classic Rock… the Eagles were once Country and Willie Nelson, Tina Turner, and Steven Tyler are among the numerous Crossovers… and there are more than 50 Covers of “Roll Over Beethoven” recorded by Crossover bands and Artists.


Classic Rock Music began in earnest in 1964 when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9… at the forefront of the British Invasion, the Beatles directly influenced the many emerging Rock Bands in Britain and America.   Their diverse Style of a modified Jazzy, R&B-based innovative approach to Music production would heavily influence the shaping of the face of popular Music for the rest of the 20th Century. Actually, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles were friends. They influenced each other's style and wrote their own songs. It's interesting that they both recorded and made a hit out of Barrett Strong's Motown song "That's What I Want." What distinguishes Classic Rock Music unique Sounds from other Subgenres of Rock Music?   

A warmer Sound quality of Guitar-led “Simple Chord Progressions”… that sometimes can vary but generally characterized by a strong sense of Rhythm and catchy “Earworm” Vocal. Thus creating memorable “Melodic Lines” that are sometimes “Haunting”… their eclectic Sounds enable clear listening of the Lyrics, unlike some Rock Subgenres.   

Its Sounds are accompanied by unique Drum Patterns… they are coupled with a background of Percussion, Woodwind, Keyboard, and/or light Vocals that are influenced by Jazzy, Rhythm and Blues… of which, are easily modified by Instrumental Innovation and creative Lyrics.  

Has an extremely large, and loyal, Fan Base that began in earnest after the Beatles kicked off the first Wave in 1964 on Ed Sullivan… it includes Boomers, their Children, Grandchildren, and those who find other Rock Subgenres not their main choice of listening… especially on the Radio and Video Streams.  

Tracks have a “Balanced and Dynamic” Mix of Elements… they are clear and upfront, but not overwhelming. Creating Tracks that avoid being too Harsh or Muddy using EQ compression Mixing, and Mastering techniques… Cooperating between competing Frequencies and its Ranges is a necessary component of Tracks.

Tracks that balance (Tonal balance) the Frequency Spectrum to shape the Tones for Instruments and produce Sounds unique to a Band or Artist. Tracks that vary the range of Sounds… some are soft, introspective Moments balanced with sometimes Loud and Explosive Choruses that are not overwhelming to the Listener. Generally implore Songs that draw Inspiration from Jazzy Blues (Blazz), Folk, County, Classical, and World Genres. Songs that cover a wide range of topics relevant to the Youth of the 60s and 70s Period… including Romance and Relationships, Rebellion and Anti- Authoritarianism, Social and Political Issues, and Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll.

Songs that directly spin a Tale around Love Interests and Lust, Family Matters, Rebellion, Social Issues, and Incarceration that is well-crafted and capable of portraying the intent of a Track clearly to listeners. Have an “Authenticity Factor” that consistently reflects a Band's Style of pushing the boundaries of Sounds reflecting their unique Themes. Songs that can capture and hold a listener’s attention to the underlying, steady Beat that makes one’s Foot tap or Clap along, Songs that have a Beat with a catchy Melody that makes them suitable for Dancing, either Slow or Fast… or a combination of both… although there are a few CR Tracks that are just plain worth listening to with full enjoyment.


Classic Rock Music Appreciation (by the EARWORM)      

A Song is created by a Recipe based on the 8 Elements… they all contribute to its overall appeal of it, but it is the Mix that is unique to a Musician and its Composer Dynamics refers to the volume of a Track… it can vary from Loud to Soft and Soft to Loud.  It is all based on the collaboration between the Performers and the Composer's interpretation the Track   Form/Structure refers to the Order and Arrangement of the parts of a Track including Intro, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Solo, and In and Outro Harmony is the Sound created when 2 or more Pitches are performed at the same time to form a Chord… in most.

In CR Tracks, the Guitar is the main Instrument that supports the maim Melody performed by the Singer… other pitched instruments contribute and support the harmony’s melody and Chordal accompaniment. Melody is a series of Pitches that make a Tune that holds the Elements together… it determines the Harmony and Tonality of the piece.  The main melody can be heard from an Instrument that has a unique Timbre or Tone’s Color/Quality… if a Melody is meant to be happy or sad, it can drive the Rhythm of the track and set the Tempo  

Rhythm is the duration of how long/sustained or short a Sound is… its Tempo and the type of Time Signature used   Texture refers to the number of Instruments or Voices that contribute to the overall Density of the Track… it can be either Thin or Sparse or Thick or Dense. It defines the layers of Sounds, i.e., Monophonic, Homophonic, Heterophonic, or polyphonic  

Timbre refers to the unique sound quality of an Instrument… for example, a Guitar with nylon strings is totally different from steel strings, It is like a Painting that uses Color to emphasize images whereas an Instrument paints unique Sounds defining the Quality of a Track… it describes the Role of an Instrument whether performing the Melody, Beat, Rhythmic accompaniment, Chordal harmonic  

Tonality refers to the overall Sound (the package) of a Track… whether pleasant (Consonant) or unpleasant (Dissonant)?… or the Track is in a Major or Minor Key and it Modes (Modality). 


The Concepts of Music  

To further define Music by using Advance Music Theory Dynamics and Tempo… By using Dynamic markings, Composer and Performers can shape the narrative and Expressive Elements of a Composition… and changes in Tempo can be used to create Dynamic contrasts, evoke emotions, and signal shifts in Mood or Energy to the listener. Together, Dynamics and Tempo work to shape the expressive, emotional, and structural aspects of a Track… that guides the Performer engaging the listener in a cohesive and compelling musical narrative.   ·      

By using gradual changes in Dynamics, such as Crescendos (louder) and Diminuendos (softer) to build Tension… that allows for a Nuanced and Dynamic interpretation adding depth and interest Composers can introduce changes in Tempo to create contrast and highlight different Sections… such as a sudden change to a slower Tempo can signal a shift to a more introspective passage… a faster Tempo can inject energy and excitement to an Audience Combining changes can achieve heightened Contrast and Impact… where a sudden increase in both can create a climactic movement while a gradual decrease can lead to a Peaceful and Reflective conclusion


Music Appreciation… (How to know what you are hearing?)   ·      

Active Listening is the “Art and Craft” of identifying all the Sounds that you hear… to be able to identify and evaluate a tracks Artistic points, their Technical merit, and Intellectual value.  In other words, enjoy the experience by listening to, and enjoying, the whole Track… that is the Goal of all Performers   ·      

Timbre is recognizing the difference in Sounds from one Track/Band to another… but first one has to learn to truly listen to the Beat, often the Drum, but melding with the other Sounds… from 50BPM to 220BPM.   Every listener will determine the Style of their preference based on the Tempo and the Pitch (Notes) referring to the number of times Sounds vibrate back and forth over the course of one second… musical Notes are controlled and intentional as compared to the Sounds of Nature that are unpredictable  

A sudden change to a slower Tempo can signal a flip in Mood or lesson one’s Energy… it can evoke feelings of Relaxation or Sadness that can lead to a more Subdued or Reflective atmosphere.   While a faster Tempo can inject Energy and Excitement or Urgency… or even a sense of Anticipation leading to the most pleasant Emotions… fast Tempo changes can capture a listener’s attention and maintain Engagement to a Track.   ·                

The concept of Mode refers to a collection of Pitches (Scales) that are Major and minor… to be sure; Musicians have created thousands of 5, 7, and 8-Note Scales.  Different Scales arouse different Emotions from two Listeners side-by-side… it is a personal Trait.   

Scales are Pitch Inventories from which derive Harmony (Notes sounded on top of one another in simultaneity… while Melody refers to Notes sounded one after another in succession.  Classic Rock is known for their catchy Melodies and memorable Hooks… they must deliver “Earworms” that make a Listener say, “I can’t get that Song out of my head” that mostly occur when the Brain is relatively unoccupied.  

Earworms are not planted but are part of what is called a natural “Cognitive Phenomenon” that repeats in a person’s Mind involuntarily… if you sing in the Shower, you know what I mean.  

Note:  One aspect of attempting to plant Earworms was in the late 50s with the Payola Scandal that put Alan Fried in jail in 1960   An Earworm, also known as Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI), is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. It can also be tied to our emotions, memories, or situations that may subconsciously remind us of a song.  

Earworms are essentially involuntary memory retrieval in a musical context. A song, or more commonly, a segment of a song, pops up and starts playing in your mental jukebox, unsolicited and often unshakeable. The memory of the song is retrieved from your long-term memory and occupies your short-term or ‘working’ memory, creating a loop that can be surprisingly tenacious.  

According to researcher Bede Williams, an earworm must possess five key elements: Rhythmic repetition, Predictability, Surprise, Melodic potency, and Receptiveness (how the listener feels about the song)  

Note:  This is one silent component of Classic Rock… Rock On ♪♪♪