Music of the 70’s , its technology and is influence on the following decades



As many know the 1970’s was a massive decide for music . Following the hippie movement of the 60’s many music styles developed further and moved on . The 70’s adopted a trend of relaxing music , dance music and rock music was also the defining genre of the 70’s , though there was the exception of punk that became increasingly popular in the mid to late 70’s .The music technology advances made in the 70’s were ground breaking  .The music and technology has influenced countless amounts of musicians right through the decades up until today .

Music of the 70’s

In the early 70’s glam rock was very popular with artists like T-Rex and David Bowie .   The genre was fronted my male artists who wore heavy make-up and dressed in clothes that wouldn’t look out of place on a female. The theatricality of the image was even applied to live performances . This was entirely a British sensation . Crunching guitar sound, simple yet very catchy melodies and an almost theatrical style vocal were the main characteristics of glam rock . Another element of glam rock was its lyrics ,  many of which were futuristic , about the use of narcotics and references to sexuality . The instrumentation was kept simple mainly electric guitars , vocals ( lead and backing ) , bass and occasional keyboard .  The flamboyant genre was short lived as production of quality glam rock had reached an end around 1975 . The reason for this was that most of the remaining musicians were moving on to different projects that involved a new sound .

                               “Glam rock was a form of rock music most popular from 1971-1973. The genre was characterized by male performers who wore makeup and feminine style clothing while performing rock music. Some of the bands of this early time had extremely elaborate stage shows, often emphasizing futuristic themes. On of the earliest and best known glam rockers was David Bowie, who blurred gender lines with his heavily made up face and the personas he adopted during concerts, and Marc Bolan of T-Rex. Other early glam rockers include the bands Queen, Sweet, the New York Dolls”[ Christensen, 2012 ]

The 70’s music scene seen the rise of disco music in the later years of the decade . Proving most popular in North America and Europe.  Disco had been around for years before it peaked in popularity .The listeners and fans of disco were club goers . People at the time went to clubs to forget about the fighting and unlawful actives of the previous decade , this contributed greatly to the peak of disco music .
                                “Disco fused different musical styles such as African, R & B, Latin, Jazz and even Classical into an undeniable force which brought together people of different races, ethnicities and sexual orientations.”[ Remicks , date unknown ] .
 The main characteristics of disco music was the vocals in most instances were treated with lots of reverb , another defining characteristic is that the instruments recorded in early disco music were real live instruments , synthesisers and harmonisers  were not used until later . Instrumentation, bass was the most important instrument in disco ; it was the drive of the funky rhythm of the song .  Syncopation is a strong rhythmic feature of bass lines in disco. Guitar was used a rhythm instrument which had a distinctive sound cause of thecommon use of a wah-wah pedal  . Drums with regularly used HI-Hat in rhythm patterns of semi-quavers or demi-semi-quavers , bongos were also a popular choice of percussion in disco recordings . Strings features frequently in disco music , instruments such as violins, violas and cellos , in later recordings synthesizers would have been used to emulate the sounds of a string section.  Horns were also used to create a sort of jazz sound , they would be used as an accent instrument .  But despite its popularity just like glam rock its success and rise was short lived as its commercialization and silliness was realised my many.

Punk music in the 70’s , a genre to live on from the 60’s throughout the 70’s with few developments to its overall sound.  Punk yet again was another style of music that was mostly British based and never really caught on in America until the 80’s .  Punk is defined my hard hitting trashy guitars with a DIY attitude and lyrics with a strong political meaning and the music was normally repetitive.
                              “England’s punk scene had political and economic roots. The economy in the United Kingdom was in poor shape, and unemployment rates were at an all-time high. England’s youth were angry, rebellious and out of work. They had strong opinions and a lot of free time.” [Cooper ,date unknowen].
The characteristics of punk , the vocals will tend to have a nasal tone quality and often screamed or shouted by the vocalist . Another defining characteristic is the stripped sown nature of the songs only three instruments were needed and the length of the track they were very short, many did not last over two minutes . The instrumentation of punk was stripped down and simple , there appeared to be no fuss made about additional instruments  . Instrumentation includes one or two electric guitars , bass , drums and vocals . Guitar parts in punk are heavily distorted mostly playing power cords , also guitars played complicated solos . Bassist sometimes used picks as bass lines had a tendency to be fast . Drums sound dry and are quite fast, most punk drummers have a basic eight-piece kit.  Punk was probably the most successful genre of the 70’s in my opinion , it’s the due to the fact that is carried on into the 80’s and is still a popular music choice today .

Hard rock of the 70’s . It was a type of rock and roll that fused rock music with strong musical influences form different styles of music  .e.g. blues and jazz .
                            “Hard rock is a form of rock & roll that finds its roots in the early 1960s garage rock and draws from jazz, blues, rock and roll, and other influences like folk in the case of famed hard rock artist Led Zeppelin who’s main writer and composer Jimmy Page was a famous studio musician and expert guitar player who was interested in Celtic and folk influences”[author unknown , date unknown].
This style of music gained many fans and listeners in the 70’s . The main characteristic of hard rock in the 70’s was the use of the electric guitar , it was used in three main ways, firstly it was used as a rhythmical instrument , secondly for playing receptive catchy riffs and lastly, as a solo instrument  .The instrumentation of hard rock is as follows , guitar ( electric and acoustic ) , bass, drums and occasionally organ  / piano. Guitars were usually distorted, loud and used effects like overdrive . Bass in hard rock played the root notes of the chord it is much more structured and thought about than the bass written for punk music . By playing the bass notes , it builds a solid frame and backbone to a song . The drums in hard rock are hit harder in the recording phase to emphases sheer power in the mix . The bass drum should have a booming sound the snare should be crisp and hard hitting and the cymbals should have a clean sound. Hard rock was a genre that carried on through the 70’s into the 80’s and it was in the eighties where heavy metal was born as sub-genre of hard rock .

Music technology advances that developed in the 1970’s

In Britain options for sound recording where few and far between. In 1970 Abby Road still used an eight track recorder to record the Beatles . In the same year the 16-track recorder was gaining a loyal following in America, also Apex announced that the 24-track recorder to follow but there was little interest in it as there was an increased noise level .

Synthesisers in the 70’s were very expensive and most musicians and studios couldn’t afford MOOG synthesizers . A brand called Serge brought out a synthesiser that you could build yourself , to suit your own needs .  These proved a little more affordable and opened a new window for many musicians .

Advances in electronic circuitry allowed flanging in stereo to happen in the 70’s.

The mini moog was released in 1970 . Before the release of the mini moog the only synths out there where modular synthesisers that cost tens of thousands of pounds / dollars . These synthesisers where hard to understand , hard to play and required hundreds of meters of wires to operate and get desired sound .   With the release of the mini moog , synths because more accessible to musicians was they were more affordable  than the traditional modular synths . Another advantage of the mini moog was that it was portable .

In 1976 Yamaha released a polyphonic synthesiser .

In 1977 the first sampling synth was released . This allowed artists to record pre-recorded sounds.

The influence of 70’s music and technology in the following decades

Not long after the 70’s were over , it wasn’t long before the glam rock influences of the 70’s began to show.  The new rock style of the 80’s was influenced by glam rock , it wasn’t so much about the influence on their music but more so on their fashion statements.

Modern day house is heavily influenced by 70’s disco music. You can clearly hear the influence that 70’s disco has made on house music by just listening to it .  House music has adopted the funky rhythms that are associated with 70’s disco.

Punk was the most influential genre to come out of the 70’s. Still today bands are being influenced by original 70’s punk bands e.g. Ramones.   In the 80’s punk became so popular that it began to spilt into many sub-genres , this gave rise to pop-punk and alternative rock  . The Grunge movement of the 90’s was noted to have taken several influences from 70’s punk music . Although punk was extremely popular it wasn’t until the 2000’s that it hit the mainstream with bands like Green Day. It is a genre that is still going very strong to date .

The production of synthesisers greatly influenced music as we know it today . They led to the creation of a new genre called Synthpop . Synthpop was recognised in the 80’s and its main instrument was of course a synthesiser . The synthesiser also  lead to the new wave of “one man bands”  , a synthesiser can allow you to recreate the sound of almost any instrument imaginable . This means that one person can compose a piece of music on one instrument , instead of getting in musicians to record. 


This proves that the 70’s was a very influential decade in music . This is because of its ever developing music scene .  And how all genres seem to interact and draw influence from one another. If the music of the 70’s didn’t happen the way they did there is no telling what music today would be like . For example if the movement of punk didn’t happen because they had such a strong influence on grunge , pop-punk and alternative rock we would not have had great bands such as Nirvana or Green Day .  The technology advances of the 70’s has also influenced music greatly , if synthesisers weren’t made polyphonic and portable they would be probably no sample based music , and we defiantly would not have had the development of genres such as Synthpop .


Lazarus X. (unknown). Hard rock . Available: Last accessed 3 may 2012

Ryan Cooper . (unknowen). The History of Punk Rock. Available: Last accessed 1 may 2012.

Tricia Ellis-Christensen. (2012). What IS Glam Rock. Available: Last accessed 2nd may 2012.

unknowen . (unknown). A Complete Introduction to Disco. Available: Last accessed 3 may 2012.


Browne D (2011). Fire and Rain The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 . Britian: Da Capo press. unknown.

Claudine P. (2008). music technology :now and then. Available: Last accessed 3 may 2012

Gilmore J. (unknown). instruments used for hard rock . Available: Last accessed 3 may 2012.

Johansen D. (2001). HISTORICAL BITS AND PIECES. Available: Last accessed 3 may 2012

 Pell N, . (unknown). instruments used in disco . Available: Last accessed 2nd may 2012.

Shivel D. (2007). the history of punk music . Available: Last accessed 2nd may 2012.

unknowen. (unknown). the origins of house music . Available: Last accessed 1 may 2012.

unknown . (unknown). mini moog . Available: Last accessed 3 may 2012.

unknown. (unknown). Music Played in the 1970’s Popular Music From the 70s. Available: Last accessed 1 may 2012.

Wadham W. (unknowen). a short history of the multitrack recording studio . Available: Last accessed 3 may 2012.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s