Ch. 7: Post-Punk Variations

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Iggy PopAlmost from its inception, rock ‘n’ roll has been a safe harbor for those artists and bands intent on expressing their strong objection to its commerciality and clamor for the collection of popular accolades. The punk lineage that began with the early work of the Velvet Underground in the ‘60s and Iggy Pop, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols in the ‘70s, declined in the 1980s. With few exceptions, most notably the early sounds of U2, ‘80s bands were moving towards less abrasive musical models.

However, by the early 1990s, when the sounds of Seattle grunge were being formed, the pull of the underground post-punk sounds were once again the growing language of the disenchanted.


San Francisco-based band, Green Day, was the leading edge of the new post-punk/punk-rock sound of the ‘90s. The three-member band, with Billie Joe Armstrong on vocals and guitar, Mike Dirnt on bass, and (eventually) Tre Cool on drums, Green Day exploded from the Bay area into the American music landscape to become the vanguard of post-punk sound. Often compared to the American punk sound of the Ramones and the Dead Kennedys, as well as the English punk groups the Sex Pistols and The Clash, the members of Green Day, have identified their influences to be as diverse as The Beatles’ Lennon and McCartney, The Who, Motown, and ‘60s rock bands such as The Kinks.

With such a broad influence, it is understandable how Green Day has been able to push the possibilities of the pop-punk sound into new realms.

Green DayGreen Day’s first major-label release, Dookie (1994), won “Best Alternative Music Performance at the 1995 Grammys, eventually selling 15 million worldwide. After four albums, Green Day released a rock opera, “American Idiot,” following in the footsteps of The Who’s “Tommy.” The stage version of “American Idiot” was brought to Broadway in 2010 and won three Tony Awards the following year, including “Best Musical.” Green Day remain active into their fourth decade, touring and recording. Sold over 75 million albums worldwide, won five Grammys. Most known for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (#2 in 2005). They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, the first year of their eligibility.

Though never reaching Green Day’s level of success (an estimated 80 million albums sold), other bands in the early 2000s would continue with the pop-punk sound, including blink-182, My Chemical Romance, and Fall Out Boy.


Though it would seem like the mixing of two un-mergeable musical ideas, the sounds of punk rock and Jamaican ska were sharing the stage as early as the late 1970s in the United Kingdom. Punk, with its instrumentation of drums, electric guitar, and bass, was built around three grinding chords and abrasive, somewhat “non-melodic” vocals. In contrast, ska, which was brought to England by Jamaican immigrants, was a danceable, upbeat, almost hypnotic pulse with a complete brass section of trumpets, saxophones, and trombones. Ska also was built on a walking bass line and syncopated off-beats in the rhythm. Though distinct from one another musically, punk and ska bands would often share a night’s billing at a club, and would eventually share the stage to mix their sounds together.

Though the sound of ska-punk was mostly underground in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, the influence of the emerging sound can be heard in some of the work of bands like The Clash, on their 1979 album London Calling. By the 1980s, American bands like Fishbone, from Los Angeles, Operation Ivy, from San Francisco, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, from Boston, were bringing the punch of ska into their sound.

The mainstreaming of the ska-punk sound began in the mid-90s when The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and bands such as SublimeGoldfingerLess Than JakeReel Big Fish, and Rancid began to gain space on the alternative rock radio stations and eventually, on the alternative charts.  Each band had singles that were certified either gold or platinum and placed on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart. By the end of the decade, other bands, such as Smash Mouth, also saw ska-punk chart success with “Walkin’ On the Sun.”

Only one other ska-punk band of the 1990s rivaled the mainstream success of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – No Doubt, with lead singer Gwen Stefani. As their style developed during the 1990s and 2000s, the band expanded from their punk roots to incorporate elements of reggae, fusion, pop-rock, and a new wave sound into their work. No Doubt would win over a dozen awards, including Grammys, Billboard, and MTV awards, and would sell over 30 million albums worldwide. Though Stefani would break out as a solo artist, her front microphone work for No Doubt would continue through all six of the band’s albums.

Though many of the original ska-punk bands of the ‘90s still perform and record, and fervent fans still seek them out in concert venues, the popularity of the style has never matched that of the mid-‘90s, and the “third-wave ska” is now in a relatively dormant state, waiting for the next wave.

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Study Units

An Overview

Ch. 1: Understanding Pitch

Ch. 2: Understanding Musical Pulse

Ch. 3: Understanding Volume

Ch. 4: Understanding Tone

Ch. 5: Understanding Melody

Ch. 6: Understanding Harmony

Ch. 7: Understanding Rhythm

Ch. 8: Understanding Bass

Ch. 9: Understanding Countermelody

Ch. 10: Understanding Structure

Ch. 11: Understanding Instrumentation

Ch. 12: Understanding Tempo

An Overview

Ch. 1: 19th Century: Pre-Foster

Ch. 2: Folk Music by the People

Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

Ch. 4: Stephen Foster – “Father of American Popular Music”

Ch. 5: The Importance of Stephen Foster

Ch. 6: Scott Joplin – “King of Ragtime”

Ch. 7: The Player Piano – Automated Music

Ch. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”

Ch. 9: John Philip Sousa – Recording Artist and Activist

An Overview

Ch. 1: John Lomax – Recording American Roots Music

Ch. 2: Woody Guthrie – “Father of Modern American Folk Music”

Ch. 3: Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave

Ch. 4: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave

Ch. 5: Joan Baez – “First Lady of Folk Music”

Ch. 6: Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

Ch. 7: Robert Zimmerman – The Beginning of an American Icon

Ch. 8: Dylan in New York City

Ch. 9: Dylan after Newport

Ch. 10: The Importance of Dylan

Ch. 11: Folk Music in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: The Roots of Country

Ch. 2: Bristol Beginnings

Ch. 3: The Grand Ole Opry

Ch. 4: Cowboys and the Movies

Ch. 5: Western Swing

Ch. 6: Bluegrass: Hillbilly on Caffeine

Ch. 7: Honky-tonk: Merging Two into One

Ch. 8: The Nashville Sound: Country-Pop

Ch. 9: Rockabilly – Country meets R&B

Ch. 10: Country Feminists Find Their Voice

Ch. 11: The Bakersfield Sound

Ch. 12: Austin “Outlaw” Country

Ch. 13: Neo-Traditionalists at the end of the 20th Century

Ch. 14: Mainstreaming Country in the ‘90s

Ch. 15: Redesigning Country in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: What is Jazz?

Ch. 2: Before It Was Jazz

Ch. 3: Jazz is Born!

Ch. 4: Early Jazz Musicians

Ch. 5: Louis Armstrong

Ch. 6: Chicago and Harlem – Hub of 1920s Jazz

Ch. 7: Big Band – Jazz Swing!

Ch. 8: Big Band Musicians and Singers

Ch. 9: Jump Blues and Bop

Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

Ch. 11: Hard Bop

Ch. 12: Free Jazz – Breaking the Rules

Ch. 13: Fusion – The Jazz-Rock-Funk Experience

Ch. 14: Third Stream and World Jazz

Ch. 15: New Age & Smooth Jazz

Ch. 16: Summary – Jazz Lives!

An Overview

Ch. 1: Blues – The Granddaddy of American Popular Music

Ch. 2: Where Did the Blues Come From?

Ch. 3: What Are the Blues?

Ch. 4: How to Build the Blues

Ch. 5: Classic Blues – The Early Years

Ch. 6: Delta Blues – Authentic Beginnings

Ch. 7: Blues in the City – Migration and Power

Ch. 8: Blues in Britain – Redefining the Masters

Ch. 9: Contemporary Blues – Maturity and Respect

Ch. 10: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

Ch. 1: Timelines, Cultures & Technology

Ch. 2: Pre-Rock Influences

Ch. 3: Rock is Born!

Ch. 4: Rock is Named

Ch. 5: Doo-Wop

Ch. 6: Independent Record Labels

Ch. 7: Technology Shapes Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 8: The Plan to Mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Payola – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s First Scandal

Ch. 1: Crafting Sound in the Studio/Producers and Hit Songs

Ch. 2: West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf, and Teens

Ch. 3: The British Invasion: Two Prongs – Pop & Blues

Ch. 4: Motown and the Development of a Black Pop-Rock Sound

Ch. 5: Soul Music: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South

Ch. 6: The Sounds of Bubble Gum Pop-Rock

Ch. 7: The Arrival of Folk-Rock

Ch. 8: Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Early Guitar Gods of Rock

Ch. 10: Rock Festivals: The Rise and Fall of Music, Peace, and Love

Ch. 11: Anti-Woodstock and Shock Rock Movements

Ch. 1: Technological Breakthroughs

Ch. 2: Electronic Dance Music

Ch. 3: Hip-Hop & Rap – An Introduction

Ch. 4: The Beginnings of Rap

Ch. 5: Old School Rap – Up From the Streets

Ch. 6: Rap’s Golden Age

Ch. 7: East Coast – Political Rap

Ch. 8: West Coast – Gangsta Rap

Ch. 9: The Fragmentation of Rap – Pop, Party & More

Ch. 10: Further Fragmentation – Different Directions

Ch. 11: The Importance of Rap

Ch. 1: Musical Stage Productions in America before the 1800s

Ch. 2: Minstrel Shows and Melodramas

Ch. 3: Stage Presentations in the Late 19th Century

Ch. 4: Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas

Ch. 5: The Arrival of the Modern American Musical

Ch. 6: Great Partnerships in Book-Musicals

Ch. 7: Musical Theatre Composers in the mid-Century

Ch. 8: Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s

Ch. 9: Two Dominant Forces at the End of the Century

Ch. 10: New Voices at the End of the Century

Ch. 11: New Voices, New Sounds in the New Century

Ch. 12: Musical Theatre Glossary

Ch. 13: Is it “Theatre” or “Theater”?

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