Big Band Rock, what happened?

drummer-russ

Gold Member
"One hypothesis, I have is that rock was never really a cultural movement, and just so much cheap marketing hype."

I disagree with this hypothesis as well. Rock music was born as a simple kind of music based significantly on emotion. It never tried to be what the genres were before it.

Amplifiers, guitars, and keyboards/synthesizers played a role in limiting the growth of persons as rock matured.

When I think of the value of a larger ensemble I think of variety of instraments. If you start to introduce a horn line, in my opinion, it starts moving away from what rock music is about.

And certainly rock music at the local level is partly an economic a logistics issue.

But what sound is missing from Rock music that makes you think there should be large ensembles?
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I am familiar with the development of musical styles, where the styles usually start out in smaller ensembles, with limited notation, relying heavily on improvisation, then growing in size adding more notation, with fewer and fewer improvisational opportunities. You can see it happen in all kinds of styles from Argentine tango to blues even western swing. What kind of puzzles me is that rock and roll, never really developed past the small ensemble. After a little searching, the only large bands I could find were Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears. I wonder why this is? I was thinking it might have to do with the guitar technology, but then there are plenty of big band blues and funk groups.
Where exactly is there any proof of this theory?

Where is this history of development from small to large?

Jazz started small, went to big bands, but the big bands had already given way to smaller ensembles in the 40's and 50's well before rock.

Where is the evidence the blues went from small bands and grew into larger and larger ensembles? OK, it went from often being just a solo guitarist to being a 3-4 piece band, but that hardly fits the profile presented.

Western Swing? Where are examples of large ensembles growing from small ones?

Your whole premise seems to be based on evidence that is not presented.

Further, in rock, there are plenty of examples of large ensembles. The entire Phil Spector "wall of sound" is based on just that, which goes back to the early 1960's, when rock was still young.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I disagree with this hypothesis as well. Rock music was born as a simple kind of music based significantly on emotion. It never tried to be what the genres were before it.
Rock has emotions that other music doesn't and that prevents it from organizing into larger groups. That is about the funniest excuse ever. I suspect you are going to explain how painful it is for rockers to share the stage, and blues artists just don't have that painful emotion when they get on stage with big groups.

"Ah, emotions are what rock is about, other music doesn't have emotions, that is why they can organize." I mean get load that whew!, smells like, looks like... is
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Where exactly is there any proof of this theory?

Where is this history of development from small to large?

Jazz started small, went to big bands, but the big bands had already given way to smaller ensembles in the 40's and 50's well before rock.

Where is the evidence the blues went from small bands and grew into larger and larger ensembles? OK, it went from often being just a solo guitarist to being a 3-4 piece band, but that hardly fits the profile presented.

Western Swing? Where are examples of large ensembles growing from small ones?

Your whole premise seems to be based on evidence that is not presented.

Further, in rock, there are plenty of examples of large ensembles. The entire Phil Spector "wall of sound" is based on just that, which goes back to the early 1960's, when rock was still young.
I think the Blues, Funk and Western Swing groups are well known at a local level, and I don't really have to present that evidence, if you really insist that you are ignorant of these groups, and others also don't believe that they exist, then I will go ahead and find the evidence.

I only mention western swing, because it is remarkable that these bands grew in first place given the logistics of living in the rural areas, and for the most part without cars.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL6XsmxymYg
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
Rock has emotions that other music doesn't and that prevents it from organizing into larger groups. That is about the funniest excuse ever. I suspect you are going to explain how painful it is for rockers to share the stage, and blues artists just don't have that painful emotion when they get on stage with big groups.

"Ah, emotions are what rock is about, other music doesn't have emotions, that is why they can organize." I mean get load that whew!, smells like, looks like... is
This does not appear to me to be a post to promote a discussion. I''l leave you to your opinions.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
This does not appear to me to be a post to promote a discussion. I''l leave you to your opinions.
Well, I just don't think a post that states that rock is more about emotions than other music was really thought out all that well, and doesn't really contribute to the discussion.
 

wsabol

Gold Member
Amplified music emulates large bands. From Elvis to Boston to Metallica, you see more amplification, distortion, and signal processing that lead to larger sounds, which is equivalent to adding unsion members the way a horn section sounds larger than a single player. That how is see your trend in rock music.

I also agree that it's a cultural preference thing though mostly. No one wants horns in rock groups anymore. I know you've already stated that you can grow a group in other ways than with horns, but in what way? Add more guitars? Why not just turn up the volume? You pay less people and its the same effect.

I also agree with everything DrumEatDrum said.

Many big bands don't have conductors. When your band leader is a member of the band.. who needs a conductor? (Buddy Rich, Count Basie..)
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Rock is a pared down fairly simple, mostly, format. The whole movement was based on the idea that almost anyone could get involved with limited musical background. The idea of playing in a large ensemble is alien to the whole rock ethos.
The interplay between 3, 4 or 5 musician is easier and more immediate than with 10 or 12. Also, the untrained singer song writer in a typical rock band would find it much easier to instruct the other members of the band in the workings of a new song than transcribing parts for multi instruments.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Amplified music emulates large bands. From Elvis to Boston to Metallica, you see more amplification, distortion, and signal processing that lead to larger sounds
I agree with that to some extent, you see that with Hendrix where his sound guy was considered a crucial element to his sound, and Dave Matthews probably has more sound engineers tweaking his knobs live than a horn section, which I think is an interesting division of labor. Though in many ways those are just the same old hyped up, top down corporate rockers, controlled by the industry, fewer people easier to control...
 

AudioWonderland

Silver Member
Did you read my post? Pleas explain why big band blues and big band funk but not big band rock.

One hypothesis, I have is that rock was never really a cultural movement, and just so much cheap marketing hype.
Is the guitar a dominate instrument in any of those big bands you are referring to? Most of the larger groups are large because of a 4-5 man horn section.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I think the Blues, Funk and Western Swing groups are well known at a local level, and I don't really have to present that evidence, if you really insist that you are ignorant of these groups, and others also don't believe that they exist, then I will go ahead and find the evidence.

I only mention western swing, because it is remarkable that these bands grew in first place given the logistics of living in the rural areas, and for the most part without cars.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL6XsmxymYg
I see, so rather than state your case, you'll just claim I'm being ignorant.

Classy.

Typical blues, funk and Western swing bands tend to not have any more members than a typical rock band. A few exceptions might apply, like Earth Wind and Fire having 14 members. But then again, Pink Floyd would tour with 10-12 musicians on stage.

So I don't see the difference.

The only think you can really point to is the jazz/swing big band growing from small early dixieland bands to 17-25 member big bands. Yet, big band swing declined and fell out of popularity in favor of small jazz ensembles starting in the 1940's.

So again, a typical jazz band is no bigger of an ensemble than a typical rock band.

A typical Orchestra has around 100 players. Outside of classical music, nothing really approaches that.

With the exception of rock bands who incorporate a full orchestra. Of which, there are many.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3t9YCYqPno&feature=player_detailpage#t=34

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bds3FALcR7M
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I only mention western swing, because it is remarkable that these bands grew in first place given the logistics of living in the rural areas, and for the most part without cars.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL6XsmxymYg
Because that was all they had. It was their musical release, social scene, fellowship, religious meeting, everything rolled up in one. So if you played an instrument, you went on down to the barn and had a good ol fashioned hoe-down. It was your only opportunity to play. As you said due to the lack of transportation you couldn't get fours guys together in a garage unless they were related. One big town band was the norm. Mom, Dad, Kids, Grandparents, all listened to the same music. That's not evolution, that's stagnation.

Rock and roll has grown up in urban areas with people who have access to other people. Its always been music of the youth. Every generation rock music has changed into something the previous generation didn't even recognize as having roots in their music. That is an evolving musical art form. Not Jim Bob and Sally Ruth picking the same notes on the old geetar that their grandpappy taught them. If that's musical evolution, I'll stay in the dark ages thanks.
 

AudioWonderland

Silver Member
As was mentioned earlier, smaller venues eg., bars, don't have enough room.
If there are no small time "big bands" there will never be big time "big bands". They have to come from somewhere.

Second, big bands in jazz where as much about filling a venue with sound as anything else. They were dance bands primarily. They need to fill the ballrooms with sound so the people in the back could hear them too. Do you think those band leaders wanted to pay 5 guys to play a part if 2 would have been enough?

Once amplification allowed 4 people to fill the hall the way 14 used to, the big bands were over.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I see, so rather than state your case, you'll just claim I'm being ignorant.

Classy.
No I just expected that you should know more about large bands, and were playing dumb for some reason, maybe you were hostile to my way of thinking and hoping I would make a debatable mistake.

Anyway there are lots of blues jams and blues societies, that generally encourage all kinds of instrumentation including percussion and horn arrangements, harmonica sections, many of the big names BB King, Johnny Johnson, and smaller bands such as the KC street band have a fuller sound . I don't have alot of experience with funk bands, but it seems that I have seen a number of very large bands, once you factor in the brass section, back up singers, couple guitars a synth, not to mention most of the big acts Parliament, Brown were big bands.

Anyway, I guess rock isn't worth doing if you don't get paid to do it, which pretty much means rock is more or less dead. Unlike jazz bands, which people continue to perform pretty much for free just for the fun of it.

Free Rock!
 

MCM

Senior Member
There is barely enough money for 3 pieces. And the less people in a band, the easier it is for scheduling, logistics, etc.
 

makinao

Silver Member
Anyway, I guess rock isn't worth doing if you don't get paid to do it, which pretty much means rock is more or less dead. Unlike jazz bands, which people continue to perform pretty much for free just for the fun of it.
You've got it backwards. In my country, LOTS of kids play rock because they want to. Unfortunately, many clubs won't give them gigs if there are too many in a band. But that doesn't stop them from playing in school, church, fiestas, etc.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
All my opinion...Rock works better with less pieces. When you add horns, blackground singers, it's just not the same. It loses it's edge and makes it less rebellious. Rock and roll read from a chart...IDK, it loses something.

Plus with rock, you have the rockstar. One person in the band is usually the big attraction, sometimes more, but really rock bands typically are a showcase for one of the members, the "star".

So between the fact that rock plain sounds better stripped down, the favorable economics of having less people, and amplification to make those few people sound huge, coupled with the "star" being the big attraction....these are some of the forces that dictate the size of the band.

When you add strings and horns to rock and roll, it becomes Musak. Broad statement with lots of exceptions, but basically rock is supposed to be stripped down and angry, that's the attraction. Angry and string sections don't play well together. Rock just isn't suited for a big band treatment. There's always exceptions. I'm speaking generally. Again, just an opinion.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
No I just expected that you should know more about large bands, and were playing dumb for some reason, maybe you were hostile to my way of thinking and hoping I would make a debatable mistake.

Anyway there are lots of blues jams and blues societies, that generally encourage all kinds of instrumentation including percussion and horn arrangements, harmonica sections, many of the big names BB King, Johnny Johnson, and smaller bands such as the KC street band have a fuller sound . I don't have alot of experience with funk bands, but it seems that I have seen a number of very large bands, once you factor in the brass section, back up singers, couple guitars a synth, not to mention most of the big acts Parliament, Brown were big bands.

Anyway, I guess rock isn't worth doing if you don't get paid to do it, which pretty much means rock is more or less dead. Unlike jazz bands, which people continue to perform pretty much for free just for the fun of it.

Free Rock!
It would seem from this post that you did not start the thread for debate, but merely to make a statement that you believe to be fact.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
It would seem from this post that you did not start the thread for debate, but merely to make a statement that you believe to be fact.
You seem to think I was engaging in some sort of debate, I'm not sure what in my post was debatable, it seems pretty straight forward. Minimal big band rock, why is that, when there are many other styles with pretty much the same(or worse) issues and circumstances from emotions to logistics. The only explanation I have seen is that smaller groups were cheaper and easier to controll from a corporate/label perspective, and the only reason the other big bands exist is simply because people like playing that music, which implies that rock isn't as fun to perform and people won't perform rock for free. No Free Rock means rock is dying from lack of corporate sponsorship.
 
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