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10 most important figures in 20th century music

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Pereira, Apr 16, 2020.

  1. ronbow

    ronbow Senior Member

    Location:
    St. Louis MO
    Hmmm ….
    How ‘bout … Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson, Chuck Berry, Beatles, Miles, Philip Glass, George Gershwin, John Adams, Django …
     
  2. 80steen

    80steen John McClane

    Location:
    West Virginia
    Louis Armstrong
    Bing Crosby
    Frank Sinatra
    Hank Williams
    Elvis Presley
    Chuck Berry
    The Beatles
    The Rolling Stones
    Led Zeppelin
    Michael Jackson
     
    RSteven likes this.
  3. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    S/B top of the list.
     
  4. carlwm

    carlwm Forum Resident

    Location:
    wales
    The (entirely subjective) ten most important for me would be:

    Bill Leader
    A.L. Lloyd
    Ashley Hutchings
    Alan Hull
    Maddy Prior
    Jim Peterik
    Gary Richrath
    Dan Fogelberg
    Stephen Stills
    Chris Hillman

    All of these have had a profoundly positive effect on my life both through their own music and performers they've introduced me to.
     
    Radagast likes this.
  5. Steve Pereira

    Steve Pereira Nutbush Unlimited Thread Starter

    Location:
    Southampton, UK
    No. I did mean the entirety of 20th century music, including jazz, classical, film soundtracks, opera, musicals, etc. Various enthusiasts for jazz or classical music have made similar comments to yourself, which have been noted. Though, far more helpful, have been those folks who put forward their top ten, which included jazz and/or classical. I then totalled all the votes and made a final list:

    10 most important figures in 20th century music

    I also didn't intend to limit it to just musicians/singers, as I feel producers, non-performing writers, record company executives, have also been important. Guitar makers. Disc jockeys. Etc.

    Boiling it all down to just ten is quite hard. But the fun is in thinking about it and discussing it. and actually doing it. Nobody is going to be "right". And nobody is going to be "wrong". And whatever list anyone creates they are likely to do it differently the next day.

    What's your top ten?
     
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  6. Steve Pereira

    Steve Pereira Nutbush Unlimited Thread Starter

    Location:
    Southampton, UK
    Yes. Often overlooked. For example, people talk about Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", though the importance of that track was not her voice, but the electronic music. The best parts are where Summer is silent.

    The first track of his that caught my attention was "Son of My Father" back in 1972 when I was a teenage hippy, though the version that I recall is the one by Chicory Tip.

    Chicory Tip - Son Of My Father • TopPop - YouTube
     
  7. Radagast

    Radagast Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    Excellent!
     
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  8. MHam

    MHam Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego
    I think Schoenberg has to be in there. For better or for worse he dominated "classical" music for the first half of the century. Also I think one of the minimalist composers (Adams? Reich?) probably belongs.
     
  9. Steve Pereira

    Steve Pereira Nutbush Unlimited Thread Starter

    Location:
    Southampton, UK
    That's why these lists are so much fun and interesting. Discovering that other music exists outside of the music you personally know and love. I think most of the folks putting down their lists which don't include Stravinsky are not necessarily ignorant of Stravinsky, but may have decided (as I did) that there were ten other figures in 20th century music who we felt were more important. It may be worth you looking at those other figures and finding out about them as you seem to have little idea of why they are important if you feel that Stravinsky was more important to 20th century music than, say, Bob Dylan., or Chuck Berry, or The Beatles.

    Remember, this is not a list of your ten favourite composers or musicians, nor the musician or composer you think is the most talented, but those people who had an important influence on 20th century music. The development of the electric guitar is pretty important to 20th century music, as the majority of 20th century music involves an electric guitar. So those who put down Les Paul have shown a subtle and significant understanding of the question I posed. I'm not yet convinced that Stravinsky is as important as Les Paul, so I'd be interested in hearing your reasons.
     
  10. oldsurferdude

    oldsurferdude Forum Resident

    Location:
    detroit, mi. 48150
    Good list! You could include Brian Wilson and make it even better!
     
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  11. Steve Pereira

    Steve Pereira Nutbush Unlimited Thread Starter

    Location:
    Southampton, UK
    You see, I'm wondering if you and others who are naming composers like Stravinsky have quite understood the question I posed. Let me repeat it:

    "Who do you feel are the ten most important people or bands who have had a significant impact or influence on 20th century music?"

    A lot of significant things happened to music in the 20th century, including the development of the electric guitar, the radio, and the record player. The development of new and significant music styles, such as rock, soul, funk, reggae, jazz. The advanced development of existing music forms, such as country and folk music. The enfranchising of millions of people into music appreciation though new forms of music and new means of transmitting music. The 20th century was a giant leap in music. From a very crowded field of significant figures - some of whom I wasn't fully aware before I started this thread - I ask people to select only ten. In selecting this ten some composers, musicians, etc are going to get left out. When I totalled up the lists of all those who had taken part, Stravinsky was only just outside the Top Ten:

    10 most important figures in 20th century music | Page 15 | Steve Hoffman Music Forums

    Me, I'm surprised that there hasn't been more recognition for what Brian Eno has done (3 mentions) - but that is possibly because most of what he has done has either been behind the scenes, or so esoteric that people are not aware of his work and influence.

    I'm also surprised at the lack of mentions for Woodie Guthrie (only 7) - without Guthrie there would be no folk revival, and certainly no Bob Dylan - the 20th century would be a different place without Guthrie. But Guthrie is in the past, and was a folk singer, which historically has not been a respected music format. Of course, it is Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads that first made people pay serious attention to folk music - but who actually listens to that album today? However, people do still pay attention to his "This Land Is Your Land":

    Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteen - This Land is Your Land - Obama Inauguration - YouTube

    @Jennifer Lopez Performs "This Land Is Your Land" | Biden-Harris Inauguration 2021 - YouTube

    You can also put me in the camp who didn't consider Elvis as an important figure, because I felt the music he played and represented had already been made by the time he got around to singing it, and he added nothing new. But it has been argued, and I understand the argument, that because he was a young, sexy white boy, he sparked an interest in rock music for young white Americans who in a racially segregated time would not normally listen to music by black musicians. I get that. Though the story I am familiar with is that in the UK the young white Brits largely bypassed Elvis and went straight to the source (The Yardbirds, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton. The Who, The Kinks, etc took most of their musical influence from Chuck Berry, Little Richard, B.B. King, Robert Johnson, etc), and then took this music back to America during the British Invasion, and that is what has largely shaped modern rock music.

    What is interesting about getting involved in this list is that we learn about important figures in 20th century music we may not have been aware of, and/or we learn more about people we are aware of, but hadn't given much thought to.

    Tell me why you think Stravinsky is more important than Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Chuck Berry.
     
    Geee! likes this.
  12. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    sure!
    John Lennon
    Paul McCartney
    George Harrison
    Bing Crosby
    Elvis Presley
    Buddy Holly
    Frank Sinatra
    Bob Dylan
    Jimi Hendrix
    Kate Bush
    Dean Martin
    Hank Williams
    Doc Watson ...started them all!
    Gordon Lightfoot
    Brian Wilson
     
  13. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    Steve Reich
    Philip Glass

    And reading a post above, yes, Brian Eno.
     
  14. wes4usc

    wes4usc Forum Resident

    Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was a Russian composer who revolutionised 20th-century music, and provoked riots with The Rite of Spring.
    Life and Music
    Stravinsky composed masterpieces in almost every genre, most notably an incomparable series of ballet scores.
    He discovered a way of rethinking the creative ideals of the 17th and 18th centuries in a thoroughly contemporary idiom and, in doing so, hit upon one of the most vital and far-reaching movements of the last 100 years: Neo-Classicism.
    Without Stravinsky the history of 20th-century music would have turned out quite differently.

    From Wikipedia:

    Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ComSE (/strəˈvɪnski/; Russian: Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский, IPA: [ˈiɡərʲ ˈfʲɵdərəvʲɪtɕ strɐˈvʲinskʲɪj] ([​IMG]listen); 17 June [O.S. 5 June] 1882 – 6 April 1971) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor, later of French (from 1934) and American (from 1945) citizenship. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.

    Stravinsky's compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Serge Diaghilev and first performed in Paris by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911), and The Rite of Spring (1913). The latter transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure and was largely responsible for Stravinsky's enduring reputation as a revolutionary who pushed the boundaries of musical design. His "Russian phase", which continued with works such as Renard, L'Histoire du soldat, and Les noces, was followed in the 1920s by a period in which he turned to neoclassicism. The works from this period tended to make use of traditional musical forms (concerto grosso, fugue, and symphony) and drew from earlier styles, especially those of the 18th century. In the 1950s, Stravinsky adopted serial procedures. His compositions of this period shared traits with examples of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells, and clarity of form and instrumentation.

    Stravinsky has been called "one of music's truly epochal innovators".[144] The most important aspect of Stravinsky's work, aside from his technical innovations (including in rhythm and harmony), is the "changing face" of his compositional style while always "retaining a distinctive, essential identity".[144]

    [​IMG]
    Stravinsky with Wilhelm Furtwängler, German conductor and composer.
    Stravinsky's use of motivic development (the use of musical figures that are repeated in different guises throughout a composition or section of a composition) included additive motivic development. This is a technique in which notes are removed from or added to a motif without regard to the consequent changes in metre. A similar technique can be found as early as the 16th century, for example in the music of Cipriano de Rore, Orlandus Lassus, Carlo Gesualdo and Giovanni de Macque, music with which Stravinsky exhibited considerable familiarity.[145]

    The Rite of Spring is notable for its relentless use of ostinati, for example in the eighth-note ostinato on strings accented by eight horns in the section "Augurs of Spring (Dances of the Young Girls)". The work also contains passages where several ostinati clash against one another. Stravinsky was noted for his distinctive use of rhythm, especially in the Rite of Spring (1913).[146] According to the composer Philip Glass, "the idea of pushing the rhythms across the bar lines [...] led the way [...]. The rhythmic structure of music became much more fluid and in a certain way spontaneous."[147] Glass mentions Stravinsky's "primitive, offbeat rhythmic drive".[148] According to Andrew J. Browne, "Stravinsky is perhaps the only composer who has raised rhythm in itself to the dignity of art."[149] Stravinsky's rhythm and vitality greatly influenced the composer Aaron Copland.[150]

    Over the course of his career, Stravinsky called for a wide variety of orchestral, instrumental, and vocal forces, ranging from single instruments in such works as Three Pieces for Clarinet (1918) or Elegy for Solo Viola (1944) to the enormous orchestra of The Rite of Spring (1913), which Copland characterized as "the foremost orchestral achievement of the 20th century".[151]

    Stravinsky’s creation of unique and idiosyncratic ensembles arising from the specific musical nature of individual works is a basic element of his style.[152]
     
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  15. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    You have a pretty narrow view of Elvis Presley's impact on the entire burgeoning rock 'n' roll genre. Elvis was one of the original architects of the format, along with Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, just to name three other very influential figures. Elvis was among the very first to combine bluegrass and rhythm & blues to come up with something pretty revolutionary; rockabilly. I won't even get into the impact that he had on the television industry, whereby virtually every time he went on a network show a new ratings record was set. He influence all The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Elton John, just to name a few of the dozens and dozens of artists that cite Elvis as a major influence on their musical careers.
     
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  16. Geee!

    Geee! Senior Member

    Fair enough. I haven't been following the thread closely but will give my rationale. That being said, I have no idea what other 9 I would include but I do absolutely consider Stravinsky a lock.

    I will provide a couple reasons.
    First and foremost, I consider Le sacre du printemp the most important piece of music of the 20th century. Besides the fact that the premier had a full-blown riot! Which may categorize Stravinsky as the 1st punk! The ballet was ballsy in subject matter ("I Want to Hold Your Hand"? Is that ground-breaking? Blech!) and Stravinsky composed a piece which challenged conception of what is appropriate in music for meter, for orchestration (percussion in the forefront prior to Bartok) & for bitonality. Without The Rite of Spring, could we have Bill Haley & Elvis Presley 40 years down the road?
    Stravinsky melded jazz & classical. Listen to the Ebony Concerto from 1945. Dang that is fine! Or L'Histoire du soldat from 1918 which adds theater to the mix (don't bother with the Roger Waters version).
    Stravinsky influenced how music is used in film even besides his work featured in Fantasia. Along with Bartok, what suspense or thriller composer couldn't cite Stravinsky as influential? None, I'd wager.
    Stravinsky was no one trick pony. His craft for decades evolved and grew. He was active for half of the century from St. Petersburg to Paris to America.
     
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  17. MHam

    MHam Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego
    But didn't even Stravinsky doubt his own influence in 20th century music? Didn't he piggy back on Schoenberg and copy 12 tone serialism then abandon that for retro neo-classical music? Loving Stravinky's music (as I do) is not the same as arguing he was a major influence in 20th century music. Especially if that list is limited to 10, which is a fool's errand and guaranteed to provoke argument.
     
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  18. Geee!

    Geee! Senior Member

    Perhaps, yes. To be honest, not only had I never thought of the most influential prior to this thread, I also never considered the influence all that much of Arnold Schoenberg on the century. Naturally, one influence leads to another.
     
  19. Steve Pereira

    Steve Pereira Nutbush Unlimited Thread Starter

    Location:
    Southampton, UK
    I think I probably do have a narrow view of Elvis. In my view, he made some good music, such as the rockabilly you mention, in Sun Studio, but very little after he signed to RCA, and became a product. The music he is mostly known for, is not "Milkcow Blues Boogie" or "That's Allright Mama", but "Jailhouse Rock" and "Teddy Bear". And while the stuff he did for Sam Phillips has an authentic raw grit, it is still mostly echoing what had gone before. I think you can take pretty much every song he recorded at Sun, and while as a body they make an impressive album of rockabilly and early rock and roll, it's only when you look back at the originals do you realise what an awesome body of work was already out there, but because the songs were by black people or hillbillies, they little heard by white Americans. What Elvis did was wake white America up to an incredible body of work that had been around for decades.

    You can play this game yourself (and it's worth doing in order to get to, well, a "wider" and "deeper" understanding of Presley's impact): take any of Elvis's recordings, and track down the original, and play them side by side. Such as

    Elvis Presley.... Thats Alright (Mama)- First Release - 1954 - YouTube
    v
    That’s All Right - Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup (1946) - YouTube

    The Elvis recordings tend to put a pop spin on the songs, which gives them a wider appeal, but does lose some of the character and intensity of the originals. Such as

    Elvis Presley - Hound Dog (Audio) - YouTube
    v
    Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog (1952) Blues - YouTube

    The mention of Bill Haley is interesting. The original of Rock Around The Clock is awesome - it's real rock and roll: dirty and gritty and raw and shocking, and first recorded way back in 1922:

    Trixie smith - My Daddy Rocks Me (With One Steady Roll) 1938 - YouTube

    What Haley did was put a jive sound on the song. Jive was hugely popular long before Haley played it:

    Jumpin Jive - Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers - YouTube

    And if we're mentioning Cab Calloway, then something by the awesome Louis Jordan needs to be mentioned:

    Caldonia / Louis Jordan - YouTube

    When considering the range of depth of the sort of music that Elvis was taking inspiration from, then, yes, hands up, I admit my view of Elvis' own versions of that music is rather narrow. Not that I don't like it, but that I see the main importance of Elvis is not in creating a new form of music but in drawing attention to existing forms of music.
     
  20. Svetonio

    Svetonio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Serbia
    Igor Stravinsky
    Louis Armstrong
    Charlie Parker
    Miles Davis
    Chick Corea
    The Beatles
    The Who
    Jimi Hendrix
    Pink Floyd
    Genesis
     
  21. Steve Pereira

    Steve Pereira Nutbush Unlimited Thread Starter

    Location:
    Southampton, UK
    Yes. However, what I think should also be considered is that those musicians were also influenced by other musicians. While Dylan listened to and liked Elvis is true, however, there is nothing of Elvis in Dylan's music, but there's plenty of Woody Guthrie and The Animals.

    The Beatles drew from a wide range of influences - which is why they are such a key band. And, as with most UK bands of the early Sixties, they mainly went to the sources: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc, when constructing their own songs. Which then fed back to America via the British Invasion - though The Beach Boys were also picking up on Chuck Berry. And a major influence on the Beatles and other Sixties beat groups, was skiffle music as popularised in the UK by Lonnie Donegan (who was doing something similar in the UK to what Elvis was doing in the US):

    Lonnie Donegan- "The Wabash Cannonball" 1958 [Reelin' In The Years Archives] - YouTube

    Lonnie Donegan - Putting on the Style (Live) - YouTube

    And here's the earliest recording of John Lennon and The Quarrymen in July 1957, doing - guess what - not a song done by Elvis, but a song done by Lonnie Donegan:

    The Quarrymen Putting On The Style with Lyrics - YouTube
     
  22. Steve Pereira

    Steve Pereira Nutbush Unlimited Thread Starter

    Location:
    Southampton, UK
    Thankyou for that - and the comments regarding the relationship between Stravinsky and film music, which is what I feel about his music as well. The drama and mood he creates does transfer well to the screen. And, perhaps, because his style of music is used so much by film composers, we can tend to overlook the original. In the same way, perhaps, that people look at Dylan, and tend to ignore Woody Guthrie.
     
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  23. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    I think we are just gonna have to agree to disagree my friend as I hear something very new and revolutionary when I hear Elvis cover That's All Right or Blue Moon Of Kentucky. Music critic Chris Willman wrote a great article entitled, The Greatest Single In Rock History, 'That's All Right': Indeed! Here is a great quote that kind of hints at how Elvis was turning both genre and culture upside down and inside out with his doubled sided Sun Records' debut:

    The A-side was an enlivened cover of an Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup blues song that had failed to chart back in 1946. The B-side, "Blue Moon of Kentucky," was a wildly sped-up, almost irreverent interpretation of a Bill Monroe proto-bluegrass tune. As Scotty Moore, who played guitar on the sessions, wrote in his memoir: "With 'That's All Right, Mama,' Elvis took a blues song and sang it white. With 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' he did the opposite: He took a country song and gave it a bluesy spin."

    Not everyone was ready for this bastard musical hybrid. As Marion Keister, the front-office woman at Sun Records, said in the book Lost Highways: "On that first record of Elvis's, we sent a thousand copies to disc jockeys, and I bet 900 went into the trash can, because if a rhythm & blues man got it and heard 'Blue Moon of Kentucky,' he tossed it away… same thing if the country man heard 'That's All Right.'"

    But even if her math is correct, the hundred DJs who liked it really liked it, and helped birth a regional sensation that turned into the biggest pop-culture revolution of the 20th century.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021 at 3:18 AM
  24. Brian Lux

    Brian Lux One in the Crowd

    Location:
    Placerville, CA
    I'll play... (my amp goes to 11).

    Igor Stravinsky
    Charles Ives
    Louis Armstrong
    Duke Ellington
    Billie Holiday
    Charlie Parker
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane
    Bob Dylan
    Jimi Hendrix
    Brian Eno
     
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  25. Mylene

    Mylene Senior Member

    Dylan's first single, Mixed Up Confusion, was basically a tribute to Elvis and Sun Records.
     
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