FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
Influential and notable music of note, usually with notes, in successive order. See also Music Tropes.

For exemplary Score And Soundtrack, see Notable Original Music.

HAHAHA GET IT? MUSIC? OF NOTE? HAHAHA



Classical and Orchestral

  • Johann Sebastian Bach. Countless musicians of all genres, from his death in 1750 to the present day, have listed him among their influences.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Requiem. That is all.
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven, ESPECIALLY after he started going deaf. His Ninth Symphony, a magnificent composition by any account, was written while he was totally deaf.
    • From The Other Wiki: "Over time, his hearing loss became profound: there is a well-attested story that, at the end of the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience; hearing nothing, he wept."
  • Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique was one of the first symphonies with an accompanying storyline and may have possibly invented the Leitmotif.
  • Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung Operas.
  • Two Words: Pachelbel's Canon (in D)
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff, especially his piano preludes and concertos. Just pick any of the movements from his piano concertos, and you have instant Crowning Music of Awesome.
  • John Williams has composed some of the most memorable film scores in the last 40 years, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Superman.
  • The name Jerry Goldsmith alone is noteworthy enough.
  • Likewise, Hans Zimmer's scores have proved themselves both amazing and timeless.
  • Greensleeves. Very popular in productions based on the Robin Hood version of medieval England, as well as King's Quest.
  • Carmina Burana: Famous example of Ominous Latin Chanting.
  • The Planets by Gustav Holst has formed the basis for much music composed following it.
  • The Magnificent Seven theme by Elmer Bernstein, the score that defined Western film scores for 20 years.
  • "Ride of the Valkyries" deserves a mention.
    • Richard Wagner deserves a mention apart from the "Walkuerenritt", not only for his own music (which has seen a lot of use in film scores), but for his pervasive influence on film composers particularly in popularizing both the Late Romantic style and the use of leading motives and themes to characterize characters and ideas in dramatic music.
  • Russian Christmas Music by Alfred Reed, notably the Cathedral Chorus at the end. There's a reason that this is one of the most-played wind ensemble pieces ever written.
  • Phillip Glass, pretty awesome, don't care what people think about minimalism.
  • Ennio Morricone One of the most prolific soundtrack composers ever, who's put music on everything from Spaghetti Westerns to Science Fiction, from prestige films to sleazy exploitation flicks. The quality of the movies may vary, but you can always count on a kickass soundtrack.
  • Lalo Schifrin. Bullitt. Enter The Dragon. Mission: Impossible. So, yeah.
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra
  • The 1812 Overture, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Ya gotta love a piece of music that was written specifically to be accompanied and punctuated by artillery fire.
    • Tchaikovsky is also the best-known ballet composer, including Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, and especially The Nutcracker.
  • Rhapsody in Blue, by George Gershwin, successfully melding classical and jazz stylings.
  • Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings. Try to sit through it and not get something in your eye--you will fail.
    • There's a reason it was used for the opening, the closing, and the most poignant scene in Platoon.
    • His Piano, Violin, Cello, and "Capricorn" Concerti all deserve mention as well, as does his transcendent Piano Sonata and his three essays for orchestra.
  • Debussy, whose Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune ushered in the era of musical modernism. La Mer is one of the most enduring symphonic works of all time.
  • Edgard Varese, the father of electronic music. He released less than twenty complete works, yet remains one of the influential composers of all time, including to a young boy named Frank Zappa...
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen was the 1960s in classical music. As one of the leaders of the Darmstadt School, he and Pierre Boulez were pioneers in both serial, aleatoric, and even spectral music, changing the classical music landscape for years to come.
  • Iannis Xenakis. He studied under the famous architect Le Corbusier and then the famous composer Olivier Messiaen. He incorporated all kinds of mathematical ideas into his music. He once wrote a beautiful (if a bit harsh) piece called Metastasis, then proceeded to design a building based off of it. That building was the famous Philips Pavilion.
  • Georges Bizet's Carmen, an opéra comique. Don't mistake it for a comedy though--it's most definitely a tragedy. The most recognizable/popular of parts are "Toréador's Song," and Habanera.
  • Harry Partch, who almost single-handedly introduced just intonation [1] into the dialogue of modern classical music. A massive influence on musicians like The Residents.
  • Christoper Tin's Calling All Dawns, the leading piece of which--Baba Yetu--became the first piece of video game music to win a Grammy. The other songs aren't featured in video games but are equally awesome.


Rock and Pop

  • Ray Charles. He laid down the foundation for Rock and Roll by mixing gospel and Rhythm & Blues. Without him, there would be no Rock and Roll.
  • Elvis Presley.
  • Chuck Berry: He brought rock and roll to a huge mainstream audience. Not to mention Outer Space.
  • Buddy Holly: In a mere 18 months as a professional musician, he pioneered numerous new techniques in recording and in songcraft, changed the entire concept of what a rock star was supposed to look like, set the stage for rock music's redefinition in the 1960s, and, of course, rocked and rolled like nobody's business.
  • Bo Diddley: Not often recognized for what he did. He was known as "the Originator" for being one of the first artists to start playing Rock & Roll. The Beatles cited him as a favorite, and Hendrix and Clapton were directly inspired by him. His most famous contribution was the "Bo Diddley Beat" that rock bands the world over still use.
  • Dick Dale pretty much created the blueprint for surf music.
  • The Beatles redefined pop music with Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (commonly known as "The White Album") and Abbey Road. They also redefined pop music with every single other album they released, just not as much. Also responsible for a unique fandom phenomenon: what other band has ever been so popular that they had to stop touring for fear of widespread riots?
    • Not only is that not unique, but they weren't even the first to have riots at their shows. The first showing of Igor Stravinski's The Rite of Spring in 1913 actually incited a riot because of the music itself.
      • The difference is probably that most music-related riots tend to be because of fan disappointment, either due to a poor performance, or failing to show up, not zeal and joy. The Beatles could show up, do their thing very politely, and still have thousands of screaming fans going insane.
  • The Rolling Stones: elevated the three-minute riff-oriented rock song to an art form. Threw blues and pop in a blender, and everyone knows what came out - "Satisfaction."
  • The Beach Boys: the Sixties' masters of memorable melody. Pet Sounds, arguably the band's finest album, is a masterpiece of songwriting and production by Brian Wilson; they'd still be going strong today if Wilson hadn't suffered a massive Creator Breakdown while working on Smile... and if manager Murry Wilson (father of the three Wilson brothers) hadn't created a massive tangle of royalty- and copyright-related red tape that took the judicial system twenty years to resolve.
  • Michael Jackson and Madonna; the King and Queen of Pop respectively.
  • Cream, in their live material, for setting the whole twenty-minute jam era of rock and roll into motion and beginning the golden age of rock & roll supergroups.
  • The Velvet Underground. Hippie-era Beatnik-punks who wore black clothes, wraparound shades and played noisy songs about illegal drugs, illicit sex and guys who mail themselves to their girlfriends. Female drummer, with John Cale and Lou Reed up front. Their four albums collectively sold very few copies, but as Brian Eno famously said, everyone who bought their 1967 debut formed a band. Immeasurably influential, particularly on punk rock and the 1980s 'indie' scene.
  • Jimi Hendrix: extremely experimental musician who invented a whole series of revolutionary new electric guitar techniques, most notably incorporating electronic distortion such as feedback loops and static noise into the music itself. (Also helped create the rock-industry superstition around the number 27 by dying at that exact age, just like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and later, Kurt Cobain.)
  • Yes (Not as "in agreement with the previous item," but the band called "Yes," (Owner of a Lonely Heart), the quintessential art-rock band, who's twentyminute long songs and guitar/synthesizer duels inspired music geeks for a generation.
  • Led Zeppelin, IV: The album that set the foundation for modern rock and roll.
  • The Who, brought a rougher side to rock that hadn't been seen before and led to the punk genre, as well as influencing 70s rock greatly. Also famous for Tommy; the first "rock opera". Their followup album, Who's Next, was also influential for its use of synthesizers, which would become increasingly common in '70s rock.
  • Neil Young. Pioneer of folk-rock, but also willing to experiment with different styles like hard rock, jazz and even grunge, and arguably one of the best acoustic guitarists alive. Lots of personal lyrics abound in his work.
  • Pink Floyd didn't invent concept albums, but they proved to be masters of the form - most notably with The Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals, and The Wall.
  • Gogol Bordello, punk meets gypsy polka!
  • Steely Dan, known for convoluted, erudite lyrics that masked a lot of the content and a distinct jazz-rock fusion sound. Not the only fusion act out of the decade, but probably the most recognizable.
    • Not to mention being one of the most successful artists to never tour or promote their music much.
  • Rush, which took Zeppelin-esque hard rock and added philosophical lyrics, science fiction themes, and a level of musical virtuosity rarely seen in popular music. It's no surprise that drummer/songwriter Neil Peart is often called one of the greatest musicians of all time, and Geddy Lee is one of the most influencial bassists of all time.
  • King Crimson, whose guitarist, Robert Fripp, is one of the most influential people on Alternative music of all time, are notable for having done everything in their career. Examples include an anthemic song that they refused to play, shouting at audience members for being too loud, releasing a Prog Rock album, a jazz album, and a metal album, a new-age album, an invisible album, and an acoustic album within ten years, and publicly stating that they don't give a rat's ass about their public image.
  • Anything by Queen, which further incorporated theatrical and operatic themes into rock & roll without alienating John Q. Rocker, and recorded the soundtracks for The Highlander and the 1980 film adaptation of Flash Gordon. The Wayne's World movie featured a highly memorable scene acted out to the tune of the band's Bohemian Rhapsody, the after-effect of which is that head-banging during the guitar solo is mandatory - yes, even if you're driving.
  • The Residents: Bought the 3rd digital sampler off the assembly line, and put pop, anonymity, utter strangeness, and a twisted sense of humor into a blender. Also helped fuel genres such as punk and industrial without even realizing it.
  • Elvis Costello, especially his catchier first few albums.
  • David Bowie: Released definitive albums (or at least songs) in a vast variety of genres, including glam rock, ambient music, electronic music, industrial rock, heavy metal, and folk -- with a constantly shifting look and approach to match. A highly theatrical artist, his elaborate stage shows made him one of several performers/groups to bring Spectacle to rock in The Seventies; also a key figure in the rise of the Concept Video.
  • Brian Eno: glam rock figurehead, influential producer, inventor of ambient music, creator of Oblique Strategies... the list can go on longer.
  • Talking Heads: this outlet for David Byrne's weird arthouse funk poetry is possibly the only "New Wave" band that is still considered good music. They were one of the many bands to come out of New York's CBGB club, and combined esoteric lyrics with African polyrhythms, helping to spread the interest in African music. Their concert film Stop Making Sense (by Jonathan Demme of Silence of the Lambs fame) is considered the definitive work of it's genre.
  • Blondie was one of the first bands to be called New Wave (a term invented by their record label to differentiate the group from the punk scene) and were also one of many bands to play at the now legendary CBGB club. "Heart Of Glass" was their breakthrough single, cashing in on the disco craze of the era, and "Rapture" was one of the first songs to introduce rap to a wider audience.
  • Television were another group that came from CBGB's, and were probably the most technically talented group to have ever played there. Though they initially fronted by Richard Hell, they only achieved recognition under the leadership of Tom Verlaine a few years later. Their debut album, "Marquee Moon", is featured in the top ten of virtually every best album list ever made.
  • Alex Chilton and Big Star have been credited with influencing dozens of artists and bands from the Replacements to REM, Beck, and Wilco. Chilton also wrote the 1967 hit "The Letter" when he was sixteen.
  • The Smiths, a founding band in the British indie scene of the 80s and cited as a key influence by practically every Brit band from the 90s on.
  • Guns N' Roses, Appetite For Destruction is the best-selling debut album of all time worldwide and required listening for hard rockers. Gn R is possibly the last band that can be considered "classic rock" (see below).
  • Nirvana, Nevermind: Adrenaline-pumping Grunge, with the vocal stylings of Kurt Cobain. The release of which arguably ended the "classic rock" era and put the final nail in the coffin of hair metal. Overplayed at the time; now it can be enjoyed again.
  • Pearl Jam was at the time even bigger than Nirvana, their debout Ten outselling Nevermind ten-times. They had a grunge sound with a strong influence from classic rock, for example playing with Neil Young. They were also one of the few bands not to die out by the end of the "grunge era".
  • Radiohead: British group largely responsible for bringing alternative rock to worldwide attention. Also, they put on a kickass live show. In terms of Last.fm play counts, more popular than the Beatles (amongst the younger demographic of course).
    • REM popularised celebral 'alternative' garage rock in the late 'eighties. Radiohead took over in the '90s.
  • My Bloody Valentine, the quintessential shoegazing band, famous for their ability to make mountains of raging distorted guitars sound beautiful.
    • And the only band I can think of to give out earplugs to concert attendees. They do, because they have to, for insurance reasons.
  • Sting. Just... Sting.
  • They Might Be Giants - "The official unofficial band of TV Tropes Wiki."
    • They Might Be Giants is the only band that has an accordionist as a permanent member their most famous member.
      • Allow me to introduce you to Turisas and Korpiklaani... though not as noteworthy as TMBG, if you like accordion, definitely worth a listen.
  • Blur: They started out as Britpoppers, then did a Heel Face Turn in 1997 and changed direction to a more rockin' sound. Like Oasis, but with more than two strong albums.
    • Their lead singer, Damon Albarn, deserves a special mention not only for Blur but also singing in 'Gorillaz' and 'the Good the Bad and the Queen' and also composing the music for the operatic version of 'Monkey: Journey to the West'. Every single one is a complete and utter gem and their songs should all be heard at least once.
    • Blur and Oasis seem to the major influences on most of the major british bands of the 90's and 00's, with a new resurgence of britpop as well as a few influential indie bands who claim heavy inspiration from the two bands. Recently, this trend has even extended to the US with increasing influences on popular alternative rock bands.
  • Gorillaz is known for being a band comprised of cartoon characters (one of the first virtual bands), each with their own tastes in music. This is reflected in their songs, which are notoriously difficult to pin down to a particular genre. Their influences range from Electro to Punk to Hip Hop to Dub to Disco to Reggae and many more styles. They are also known for the veritable army of collaborators they have had working with them since the birth of the band, as well as the special techniques employed during live performances to visually bring the characters to life. Outside the music, there is also a plot between albums that chronicles the misadventures of the different band members.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel: Basically the Descartes of the indie scene, they combined your usual fuzzy lo-fi guitars and unusual vocal style with brass, accordion, musical saw, bagpipes, and some of the most mindwarpingly odd yet strangely poignant lyrics ever created.
  • ACDC: One of the largest pub-rock bands and one of the few to gain massive support outside Australia. How massive? They've sold more than The Beatles and Back In Black is the world's second best selling album.
  • Aerosmith: The Boys from Boston. Hard rock, considered to be the all-American rock band by many.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd: Quintessential Southern rock.
  • The Plastic People Of The Universe: A late '60s Czech avant-rock who faced constant pressure from the communist regime (even getting some of their members arrested at one point), and one of the few rock bands that can be said to have a true historical impact.
    • True. Few bands inspire both the punk movement in music AND a revolution in Czechoslovakia.
  • Sonic Youth: rose from simple 80s No Wave alumni to being the pioneers of noise-rock as we know it with a narcotic haze of feedback, detuned fuzziness, deadpan vocals and strangely composerly mid-song breakdowns.
  • Swans, for whom genre is no object or restriction. They are also known for being incredibly disturbing.
  • Napalm Death: creators of the modern Grindcore scene, infamous for their two-second punk freakout "You Suffer".
  • Nine Inch Nails, responsible for popularizing industrial rock; its sole member is brilliant multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor.
  • KMFDM, one of the most notable and longest-lived industrial rock bands. Recently took a turn for a more heavy-rock sound, but still faithful to its industrial roots. Also known to be very personable, chatting with fans online frequently.
  • Frank Zappa: used xylophones and kazoos on a rock album in the mid sixties, inspired everything from Captain Beefheart to They Might be Giants, and explored everything from blues-rock to jazz fusion.
  • The Wrecking Crew, a collection of legendary studio musicians in 1960's and 70's Los Angeles. Helped producer Phil Spector create his renowned "wall of sound" signature style, and are also the guys you hear adding all those layers of music on top of the Beach Boys' best songs.
  • Blue Oyster Cult: They started out as a band of college students from New York who called themselves the Stalk-Forrest Group and Soft White Underbelly. But with the release of Blue Oyster Cult in 1970, they tapped into something stranger and became founding fathers of American heavy metal. They occasionally borrowed imagery from H.P. Lovecraft, and Michael Moorcock wrote the lyrics to their songs "Black Blade" and "Veteran of the Psychic Wars". Their 1988 album Imaginos is an out-of-print classic concept album. Their most recent album is Curse of the Hidden Mirror", and they are still touring today. Notable hits include:
    • "Cities on Flame with Rock 'n Roll"
    • "Subhuman"
    • "Astronomy"
    • "Career of Evil"
    • "Godzilla"
    • "Burning for You"
    • "Black Blade"
    • "Veteran of the Psychic Wars"
    • "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"
  • The Byrds: Helped popularize folk-rock (1965), psychadelia (1966-67), and country-rock (1968-69), as well as the jangly 12-string guitar sound that a million power-pop and alternative bands would imitate in later years.
    • Their guitarist, Clarence White, is quite popular amongst guitar aficionados(and within that circle, Tele enthusiasts, a group I am proud to count myself among) for his invention of the B-bender, meant to imitate the sound of a pedal-steel guitar by raising the note on the B string by one whole step.
  • The Band: Used timeless lyrics and a rootsy sensibility to introduce Americana to rock music. Which is kind of ironic, considering that all but one of them is Canadian (although in fairness, the one American was the Face of the Band) and they met in Toronto. They got their name from being Bob Dylan's backing band for a while in the late 60s and early 70s.
    • Actually, their record company gave them the name because no one could figure out what to call them after their first album. The guys themselves were partial to The Honkies or The Crackers. You can see why that wouldn't go over so well...
  • Jethro Tull: Famed for being the only well known band with a flute driven sound.
  • Peter Gabriel: Co-founder and former frontman of one of the most famous and influential prog-rock bands of all time, Genesis; helped pioneer the use of African influences in popular music and was confronting topics such as disease in Africa and elsewhere long before it became vogue. His solo career has made him even more popular, with hits such as "In Your Eyes," "Big Time," "Games Without Frontiers," and "Sledgehammer," the music video for which helped pioneer the medium, and is probably second only to "Thriller" as the most-played and most famous music video ever.
    • In this Troper's opinion, the best songwriter alive.
  • U2. Well known for their massive live tours. Their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, was a huge success and got them a load of Grammys and the title of "biggest band in the world". They continue their success today with albums such as Achtung Baby, Pop and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
  • Dead Can Dance
  • Faith No More: Though they weren't the first to do it, not to mention the term came much later, they pretty much defined the Rap/Rock genre that many artists like Rage Against the Machine and P.O.D. would eventually display. Not to mention they are very influential to many current Rock artists.
    • Speaking of Rage Against the Machine, how about credit to them for bringing politically agitating music back into the mainstream? Most notoriously for their protest concert outside the 2000 Democratic National Convention, but also acts light their video "Sleep Now in the Fire" outside the New york Stock Exchange, their involvement in the protest concerts against the 2008 Republican National Convention, their attempts to hang inverted American flags on Saturday Night Live in protest of Steve Forbes and numerous other moments.
  • Experimental band Mr. Bungle has been influential on many artists as well as inadvertently inspiring most bands of the nu-metal genre.
  • Bruce Springsteen! One of if not the most inspirational live performers of all time. Springsteen is one of the most influential and important singer/songwriters in modern music. 40 years into his career his top grossing epic 3 hour concert marathons cross generation gaps as audiences of young and old alike travel around the world to partake in what many consider to be the most communal concert going experience on the planet.
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds produced some brilliant, disturbing post-punk albums in the 80's. Cave's lyrics are fantastic - hilarious and wise and powerful and weird, all at the same time, and he has a talented band behind him. Recently, the Bad Seeds have softened up a bit, but most of these softer songs are quite beautiful, and their most recent album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and Cave's Grinderman side project have brought them a bit more of their 80's sound.
  • The Pixies, often described as The Velvet Underground meets Talking Heads, formed in the mid-1980s and released several albums now counted among the greatest to come out of the decade. They had a unique sound formed mostly from the contrast between the two main vocalists voice and the chaotic, "angled" music of the lead guitarist. They influenced many bands that followed, with Kurt Cobain listing them as one of his favorites, and citing their influence as evident in Nirvana, especially the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
  • Red House Painters are usually considered the go-to band for Slowcore, a subgenre that consists of lengthy, depressing songs to counteract the Grunge scene. Mark Kozelek's later project, Sun Kil Moon is also a great example.
    • Codeine is often considered another top contender for the best Slowcore band, although they lack the consistent critical appeal and longevity of RHP.
  • Gackt, former lead of Malice Mizer, one of the most popular Visual Kei bands who tend went on to a solo career where he experimented with various lyrics, and has a sizable fandom both in Japan outside.
  • Simon and Garfunkel showed us how much you can two with a harmony and guitar chords. Sing "Hello Darkness my old friend" and see how many eyes lit up. They also are responsible for the most equally haunting, and most recognized version of Scarborough Fair.
  • Hawthorne Heights was pretty much the genre codifier for modern Emo-Screamo's angsty lyrics and vocals.
  • Van Halen, the band that started the craze of 80's rock. They had a larger-than-life, over the top attitude that helped them. Eddie Van Halen is a guitar god, for good reasons. The song Eruption, which is basically just a guitar solo is probably the only song of it's kind to enjoy extensive radio-play.
  • Rod Stewart, who blended folk, rock, and R&B to become one of the most well-respected and original singers of his time...until the disco period, that is. Along with Elton John and James Taylor, he headed the singer-songwriter boom of the early 1970s.
  • As mentioned above, Elton John, who is also credited with bringing the piano to the forefront in rock music.
  • The Runaways, who were the first successful all-female rock group.
  • The Kinks, whose first hit "You Really Got Me" alone is cited as the genesis of dozens of genres and subgenres of modern Rock.
  • ABBA. They're the fourth highest selling artists ever, selling 1-2 million records per year nearly 30 years after breaking up. They refused a one billion dollar offer to reunite. Many of their songs are instantly recognizable all over the world.
  • Idlewild. Unofficially known as "the most popular unheard-of band in the world".


Jazz

  • Louis Armstrong: The man who comes closest to the Trope Codifier for this genre. His innovative and influential trumpet solos essentially created the role of the modern jazz performer. Not to mention he also sung and invented the singing style known as Scat.
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Duke Ellington: One of the greatest popular composers of all time, and a damn good pianist and bandleader too.
  • Count Basie: Jazz composer and bandleader (and pianist as well) at the same time as Ellington, Basie's unique styles mark him solidly as a quintessential Big Bandleader, along with Ellington.
  • Miles Davis: jazz trumpet virtuoso started in bebop, went on to pioneer multiple styles of jazz (Modal jazz, cool jazz, and fusion, among others).
  • Charlie Parker: Saxophonist whose virtuoso approaches to rhythm, harmony, and tempo laid the foundations of bebop.
  • John Coltrane: Master saxophonist and spiritual thinker who covered nearly every jazz style of his time (even creating a few); many great jazz musicians, from the 50's to the 70's, and beyond went through his band for at least a short time.
  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Redefined what could be done with bebop, bringing avant-garde polyrhythm and polyphone to the masses with such oddly-timed instant classics as "Take Five," "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "Unsquare Dance."
    • All of the members proved to be influential, not just Dave. Joe Morello was more or less the Neil Peart of jazz; Eugene Wright showed future bassists how to play polyrhythm; saxophonist Paul Desmond's laid-back style is instantly recognizable -- he used to say he wanted to sound the way a dry martini tastes.
    • They were also racial equality pioneers, refusing to play any gigs where black bassist Wright would be treated unfairly.
  • Thelonious Monk: Best known not for his beard, his odd onstage antics, or his collection of unusual hats, but for his idiosyncratic style of playing -- you have to be a really good musician to play that haphazardly and still make it come out exactly right.
  • Ornette Coleman: Made the legendary Free Jazz which broke every single musical rule possible.
  • Vince Guaraldi: Jazz Pianist who wrote and performed the music in the various Charlie Brown films. The piece 'Linus and Lucy' is instantly recognizable as the theme of Charlie Brown.
  • Jaco Pastorius: Widely considered to be the most innovative bass player ever. Pretty much every modern jazz bassist cites him as a major influence.
  • Herbie Hancock: Wrote three of modern jazz's standards -- "Cantaloupe Island," "Dolphin Dance" and "Watermelon Man." His lineup on the Headhunters album more or less created jazz fusion by adding funk influences into the mix. The first artist to have a jazz-hiphop crossover hit with "Rockit", memorable now for its Mind Screw of a video.
  • Medeski Martin & Wood: Brought fusion into the 21st century with a mix of funk and hip-hop. Known for packing audiences in at their live appearances, and for a level of instrumental virtuosity comparable to Rush.
  • Art Blakey: Brilliant drummer whose band, the Jazz Messengers, created almost as many big names as Coltrane's various lineups.
  • Benny Goodman: Master clarinetist and band leader, he brought hot swing with a big focus on improvisation into the mainstream at a point when most big bands were almost exclusively using arrangements. He also made a major effort to include the best musicians he could find regardless of their race when most jazz orchestras were officially segregated. When he was booked into Carnegie Hall, it was the first time that the whole bill would include nothing but jazz.
  • Charles Mingus: The angry man of jazz, absolutely brilliant and over-opinionated in every place that counted. Known for taking pot shots at other jazz musicians, being a brilliant social activist, and writing a guide for how to toilet-train cats.
  • Albert Ayler: Brought together the big band themes of early jazz and freeform improvisation at its most primal, later adding funk elements. May or may not have committed suicide.


Folk

  • Bob Dylan, whose politically-conscious style of folk music inspired such contemporaries as Joni Mitchell, Peter Paul And Mary, and the Byrds.
  • Joni Mitchell had a string of nigh-flawless records, from 1969's Clouds to 1976's Hejira.
  • Woody Guthrie, who created both original folk songs and traditional folk and blues songs that hadn't been recorded. He was and is a figurehead in Folk Music.
  • Arlo Guthrie, best known for the song called "Alices Restaurant".
  • Peter Paul And Mary, the child-safe folk group most famous for "Puff the Magic Dragon," but who also recorded many social commentary and protest songs.
  • The Byrds, TropeMakers and TropeCodifiers of folk-rock.
  • Gordon Lightfoot: Author of such tracks as "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "Early Morning Rain," "Ballad of Yarmouth Castle," "Sit Down Young Stranger," and "Ghosts of Cape Horn."
  • Pete Seeger, one of the greatest folk musicians and greatest Americans to ever live.


Metal

  • Black Sabbath, the first band to be widely referred to as "heavy metal". From their debut album in 1969, they pioneered VERY heavy riffs and portentious, ominous lyrics about war and Satan. They contained multitudes.
  • Deep Purple. The other band (besides Black Sabbath) that laid the foundation of heavy metal guitar work. Trademark sound was relatively simple riffs overlaid with virtuoso, orgasmic solos. For reference, the opening licks to "Smoke on the Water" are possibly the most recognizable guitar riffs ever. Also, Jon Lords experiment with piping a Hammond organ through a Marshall amp with distortion was unique, and virtually indistinguishable from a guitar. Meanwhile, "Fireball" and "Highway Star" prefigured what would become speed metal while the non-speedy sort was still in its infancy, and Ritchie Blackmore invented the neoclassical guitar solo.
  • KISS. They were responsible for bringing metal to much larger audiences, and were the foremost American metal group during the early 70s. As their fame grew, they began embarking on more and more capitalist ventures in an attempt to secure more money and fans, ranging from a widely-derided film to a comic book series, and culminating in their attempt to cash in on the disco era. They're currently seen as one of the groups responsible for metal's downfall, along with the rise of punk and New Wave.
  • Motorhead. Speed + metal = speed-metal. Actually satisfied hardcore punks and metallers alike, and beget many a sincere emulation.
    • On a note, Lemmy claims that they only play rock n roll.
      • And, since Lemmy=God, he would know.
  • Judas Priest. Black Sabbath invented heavy metal, but Judas Priest helped to make metal its own genre rather than a blues rock/hard rock subgenre by removing all of the blues influences. They helped create the speed metal subgenre, which influenced both power and thrash metal in the eighties.
    • On a less music note, they also popularized studded leather among fans of metal and gave us an iconic figure in Rob Halford.
  • Iron Maiden: One day, some time in the drug-fuelled 1980s, a bunch of guys from London's West End discovered one could play beautifully intricate interlocking guitar figures and complex time-signatures over metal of punk-worthy velocity. Along with Motorhead, Maiden's arrival kickstarted the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (without which, we wouldn't have bands like...
  • Metallica. Their Kill 'em All album was the first example of thrash metal, then they were at the forefront of the move to more progressive metal, then they went mainstream before leaving the metal scene entirely. 20 years later, they made a much-heralded return to their original genre.
  • Death, the first band to play Death Metal (although Possessed were the first to release an album). Their 1987 album Scream Bloody Gore might not have been the first death metal album, but it was the first to be successful. Directly responsible for the Florida death metal scene, as well as the emergence of death metal as a genre wholly separate from thrash metal and for the separate emergence of technical death metal (with Human). The band also provided the genre's iconic figure in Chuck Schuldiner.
  • Pantera. When grunge almost laid heavy metal to rest, Pantera was one of the few bands that carried the flame until metal's next flowering in the late '90s. Also noted for Phil Anselmo's massive and self-destructive heroin addiction, and the brutal murder of Dimebag Darrell after their breakup, an act that galvanized metal fans worldwide.
    • It's hard to say Pantera "carried the flame" when the 90's is more or less the rambunctious adolescence of power metal, death metal and black metal, but they were certainly one of the few metal bands who managed to be popular in the 90's. Still, they were playing manly, excessive, and dare I say ----ing hostile metal without compromise. Pantera excelled as a mainstream metal act in a time nobody thought such a thing could exist.
  • Helloween. Before Helloween, power metal was regular metal with added dragons. After Helloween, power metal was an absurdly energetic, impossibly epic genre of speed metal based on powerful vocals, complex compositions, and awesome choruses.
  • Voivod, whose guitarist (the late Denis "Piggy" D'Amour) inspired a whole generation of players with his idiosyncratic--and often downright weird--playing style.
  • Venom. The albums "Welcome to Hell" and "Black Metal" are two of the most influential albums in the history of metal. It can be argued that without Venom, Thrash, Death, and Black metal would not exist.
  • Mayhem. A Norwegian band deriving influence from extant thrash metal bands (and especially Venom, above; their name came from one of their songs), who between their demo Deathcrush and their (infamous) debut album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas they defined what would become known as black metal, and inspired legions of Scandinavian extreme metal bands.
  • Slayer. Classified as one of the "Big 4" of thrash metal in the 80's, their 1986 album Reign in Blood proved to be one of the most controversial albums of the 80's, and its lyrical content and brutal aural onslaught provided the framework of later death metal bands.
  • Dream Theater: The forerunners of the Progressive Metal genre (although not the first), they proved the genre's commercial appeal with their early '90s single "Pull Me Under", and, while they have fallen under the mainstream's eye, they have built up perhaps the strongest fanbase in all of modern metal, thanks in large part to the classically-trained virtuosity of all four musicians and incredible Rush-inspired stage shows. Most of their lyrical content is derived from personal experiences and hardships, the most notable being a 12-part suite written by drummer Mike Portnoy about his recovery from alcoholism.
  • Apocalyptica started as a chamber music Metallica cover band that used four cellos. After three albums of covers (the first was entirely Metallica, the other two were other metal bands such as Slayer and Pantera), Dave Lombardo of Slayer met them at a festival and asked to do a set with them, then one of them quit the band, so instead of hiring a fourth cellist, they called Lombardo and started making original songs that still use the three cello and a drummer line-up.
  • Tool, most famous nowadays for having one of the most obnoxious fanbases in existence. Still, the band was one of the most influential of the Alternative Metal movement, adding darker lyrics and sound to the previously rather happy genre, something that resulted, for better or for worse, in the creation of nu metal thanks to bands like Korn and Deftones, who were greatly inspired by Tool's take on alt-metal. As well as this, the band members are all renowned for their musical skill, and their albums are almost always critically acclaimed as masterpieces (of course, YMMV). They also brought Progressive Metal to a much wider audience, and are regarded as one of the founding fathers of "post-metal" (metal + post-rock), along with Godflesh and Neurosis.
  • Skyclad: Although only moderately successful in themselves, their first album, The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth, was the earliest attempt to combine folk music and heavy metal, laying the foundations for the now-popular genre of folk metal.
    • Bathory's Blood Fire Death is often counted as the first example of a viking metal, a related genre which often overlaps in the Nordic countries.
  • The "Holy Trinity" of Melodic Death Metal, comprise of In Flames, At The Gates and Dark Tranquility, are resonsible for consolidating and popularising the genre, blending the harsh sound of death metal with the more melodic sound of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The later output of grindcore/death metal band Carcass is generally recognised as the Ur Example of this style, and, depending on where you draw the line, may be seen as the Trope Maker to the trinity's Trope Codifier.
  • Nightwish: Symphonic metal band from Finland and for several years and still going on the biggest and most recognizable in their genre.


Electronic Music

  • Kraftwerk - the archetypal electronic pop music act. Almost single-handedly influenced the evolution of numerous musical genres, ranging from rock to hip-hop.
  • Moby - May be the second most crucial electronic music artist next to Kraftwerk. He used samples that no artist in their right mind would in his day and he made them work. He's known for being able to bring a tear to people's eye by having a repeated sample looping over and over again to epic beats and touching piano riffs or downright having no vocals at all.
  • Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky are British pioneers of trip-hop, and have recorded some truly original and startling work since in the 1990s.
    • To that we can add DJ Shadow, the sole most influential American representative, famous for making excellent albums entirely out of samples. Endtroducing.... and The Private Press should be mandatory listening.
  • Throbbing Gristle made some of the most uncompromising and downright scary music ever with primitive synths, drum-machines and unnerving echo effects. Produced plenty of genuine musical horror(try 'Hamburger Lady', if you're game) but also capable of sweetness and light.
  • New Order, mixed Kraftwerk-style electronica with post-punk rock songs.
  • The Prodigy. Began as an Essex-rave act but mixed dance, rock and punk for massive crossover success.
  • Aphex Twin, an electronic artist who started out making dreamy ambient works and went on to pioneer electronica genres such as drum'n'bass, jungle, electronic pop, and everything in between.
  • Daft Punk. It's amazing that it's taken several other entries until they have been submitted. Such great hits like "Harder Better Faster Stronger," "Around The World," "One More Time," "Technologic," and other amazing electro beats. Even more of note is their possibly-Crowning Music Of Awesome "Harder Better Faster Stronger (Alive 2007)". WHY did it take so long to say it?
    • Daft Punk are special because you can listen to their music over and over and never get tired of it. And their live shows? Just look up a video on Youtube, and you'll be amazed. Even people who don't like electronic music can agree that these guys rock. The robot helmets just make everything ten times as awesome. I could seriously type on for hours on why Daft Punk is so good, seriously.
  • Negativland! Mastered the craft of sampling and cutting up tape recordings. Throughout their career, they made obvious their anarchist political agenda with humorous sound-collage masterpieces and booper symphonies. Hard to call it "electronica," but it does fit fairly well enough.
  • The KLF, Justified and Ancient of Mu Mu, the JAMS, The Timelords = Bill Drummond & Jimi Cauty doing whatever they feel like doing. Very Media savvy and more known for their stunts as their music, but still a notable addition to the genre of electronic music.
    • Their music was built on "The Manual," which was their explanation of how the pop music business worked. It's still a must-read for aspiring musician.
  • Tangerine Dream, who like Kraftwerk, helped define the genre. Christopher Frank has had success using the style as a solo composer for a offbeat variety of projects, including the First Tenchi movie and "Babylon 5".
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra, arguably the first Synth Pop band, was highly influential in electronic music and J-Pop. Their sound also crossed over into America and was used by early Hip Hop artists.


Punk

  • The Sex Pistols, crystallised and exemplified the social outrage of UK punk. Often credited as the first major punk band but there are several alternative 'first' punk bands:
    • Iggy Pop and The Stooges who actually invented abrasive three chord punk music in the late 60s, though it wasn't called that at the time.
    • The New York Dolls, a deliberately provocative 'Glam' band, and Richard Hell's song 'Blank Generation' were very influential on Malcolm McLaren's eventual creation of the Sex Pistols.
    • The Ramones' debut album predated the Sex Pistols' by 18 months. The Ramones' crucial synthesis of buzzsaw thrash and bad taste lyrics were the first true examples of 1970s punk proper. Signature track: 'Blitzkrieg Bop'.
  • MC5, a energetic late 60's hard-rock band that paved the way for punk with their loud,raw and politcal music. Also notable for: gettin the Stooges a record deal and for being the first band ever to release a song that included the word "motherfucker"
  • The Clash: If the Ramones introduced punk, the Clash raised it to an art form. Their album London Calling is widely considered the greatest punk album of all time (and one of the all-time greats in general).
  • Crass, known for being anarchists, and getting banned in the UK for blasphemy. Godfathers of Anarcho-Punk but due to their use of tape collages, graphics, spoken word releases, poetry and improvisation they are also considered Art-Punk. Still haven't sold out.
  • It's been argued over who were the first hardcore punk band. It comes down to either Black Flag, Bad Brains or a little known band from California called The Middle Class.
  • Minor Threat: The definite Hardcore band. Known for (inadvertently) starting the straight-edge movement and never ever playing a concert that wasn't open to all ages. Also known for being one of the most awesome bands in the history of the world.
  • Bad Religion: Credited with singlehandedly reviving the Punk Rock genre in the 80s with their third album "Suffer" Bad Religion is considered by some to be the fathers of modern Punk Rock.
  • The Misfits: probably the most iconic Punk Rock band ever, not to mention the pioneer of what is known as 'Horror Punk.' Like Motorhead, the Misfits are extremely popular in both hardcore punk and heavy metal circles and bands as diverse as AFI or Metallica have cited them as a prominent influences. Their use of the Crimson Ghost (or Fiend) logo is also a well-known example of something that is Older Than They Think.
  • The Pogues combined punk rock with Irish traditional music, founding the related genres of folk punk Celtic punk (the latter arguably a sub-genre of the former).
  • The Dead Kennedys did not create Hardcore Punk, but their hard hitting lyrics, and memorable songs is what makes their first album "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables" a must listen to for any fan of punk.
  • Bikini Kill: Leaders in the Riot Grrrl movement of punk rock during the 90's, and an inspiration not only for many female punk rockers, but also for the better-known band Sleater-Kinney.
  • Punk/Rock n' Roll band The Heartbreakers (not Tom Petty), fronted by ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunders, who co-founded the band with ex-Television member (and builder of the stage at CBGB's, which helped many early NY punk bands get an audience) Richard Hell, who sang some lead vocals as well before he left/got kicked out and started the Voidoids, a jazzy art-punk band. Also featured fellow ex-New York Doll Jerry Nolan and co-lead guitarist/co-lead vocalist Walter Lure.


Rap and Hip-hop

  • DJ Clive "Kool Herc" Campbell invented hip-hop as we know it today by spinning two records of the same track at somebody's house party, so as to isolate that drumming "break" in the song and make the funkiness last. Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash and Jazzy Jay followed suit and took it another level. The Sugarhill Gang made "Rapper's Delight" and twigged everyone else to the fact that a new music style had been born.
  • Run DMC: It would've been enough if they'd simply initiated some major changes in the sound of rap, shortening the typical song length from 6-12+ minutes to a more radio-friendly 3-5 and bringing a more aggressive, hard-hitting style in both beats and rhyming, usually aided by then-innovative techniques like rapid-fire mic passing and production heavily reliant on drum machines. But they also became the first rap superstars: they were the first group to cross over to rock audiences (thanks to Aerosmith collaboration "Walk This Way"), claim a top ten pop and #1 R&B album chart position, go gold - then platinum - then multi-platinum, appear on MTV, get a Grammy nomination, and appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. Incidentally, "Walk This Way" is considered the song (and video) that revived interest in Aerosmith and launched their second successful period in the late 1980s.
  • Beastie Boys.
  • Herbie Hancock's "Rockit". Watch Scratch (2000), the quintessential movie about the turntablist movement, and see who the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, the X-Men (now the X-Ecutioners), Mix Master Mike, and everyone else all say inspired them to start fucking up their mommas' records.
  • Afrika Bambaataa took a Kraftwerk record and invented electro, giving us the basis for the use of synthesizers in hop-hop.
  • LL Cool J
  • Public Enemy, the famous politically charged group responsible for some of the best hip-hop albums ever recorded.
  • The period from the late '80s to the early '90s is considered to be hip-hop's Golden Age, as it was a time of extraordinary innovation in rhythms, sounds, lyrical styles, and content. The level of self-awareness and intellectual thought makes the music from this time still extremely popular amongst middle-class white college students looking to show how down they are. Notable acts include: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, Gang Starr, Digable Planets, P.M. Dawn, KRS-One, Cypress Hill, and The Wu Tang Clan.
    • This style of hip-hop experienced a resurgence in the late '90s, featuring such acts as the Fugees, the Roots, Common, Mos Def, Jurassic 5, DJ Shadow, Kool Keith, Mobb Deep, and Dead Prez.
  • While mainstream hip-hop during the '80s had devolved into a gimmick, West Coast hip-hop (Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, N.W.A.) gave birth to gangsta rap and made hip-hop a force to be reckoned with.
  • Death Row Records: Released The Chronic and Doggystyle; founded by Dr. Dre and Suge Knight.
  • Bad Boy Entertainment: label founded by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy; home to Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G.
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Biggie Smalls
  • Missy Elliot/Timbaland
  • Busta Rhymes
  • Cash Money Records (Li'l Wayne, Juvenile, Big Tymers) and No Limit Records (Mystikal, Master P, Silkk the Shocker, C-Murder) were responsible for bringing the "Dirty South" and bounce music into the limelight in the late '90s.
  • Professor Elemental: Pioneer of "Chap-hop".


Country

  • Hank Williams. More or less established the vocabulary for 20th century country music.
  • Johnny Cash, a forerunner for the face of country music for over two decades, experienced a lull during the early 80's to 2000. Instead of fading away, he used a simpler style and went on to create the emotionally fueled "American" series of albums.
  • Dolly Parton. She is one of country music's most recognizable and loved singers; behind the sweet voice is a survivor who wrote many of her hits, including "I Will Always Love You" (yeah, that one).
  • Dwight Yoakam was written off by many people as just a "hat act" back in the day of his popularity. It wouldn't be until the late 2000s when new, young country artists started listing him as an influence that people found out just how important he was to the genre.
  • Dixie Chicks were nothing out of the ordinary when they started. Then in 1998, they got a new lead singer, started pushing the bounds of Neo-Traditionalism and successfully broke through with their 2002 album Home.

R&B

  • Little Richard, maybe just behind Chuck Berry for influencing rock & roll, but undoubtedly the first major influence for funk.
  • James Brown. If Little Richard began funk, Brown brought it to a brand new level. Almost surely the most charasmatic and enthusiastic performer of all time.
  • The Funk Brothers, possibly the ultimate gang of session musicians. You may not know them, but if you've heard even one of Motown's greatest hits, you've heard them.
    • And many of the acts they backed up:
    • Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
    • Marvin Gaye
    • Stevie Wonder
    • Diana Ross and the Supremes
    • The Temptations
  • Sly and the Family Stone, who added social awareness to their R&B/funk/rock hybrid.
  • Parliament/Funkadelic, who took funk to a whole new level.
  • Aretha Franklin, considered by some to be the greatest female pop singer ever. Her big hit, "Respect", is often-parodied, but she had a string of hits in the late 1960s and a comeback in the 1980s. Last seen at the Obama inaguaration.
  • Booker T. and the M.G.'s, Memphis's answer to the Funk Brothers, were the house band for Stax Records. They were the architects of the Memphis Soul sound, thanks to both their own recordings and the acts they recorded with, including:
    • Otis Redding
    • Sam & Dave
    • Issac Hayes
    • Rufus Thomas, and his daughter Carla Thomas


Reggae and Ska

  • Bob Marley, the most famous reggae performer of all time, famous for his many quotable quotes and catchy songs, including, but not limited to, "I shot the sheriff", "Redemption Song", and "One Love."
    • Not to mention the early Wailers who featured him, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, who would both become successful solo musicians in their own right. Whilst Marley's Island stuff is more famous, many fans and critics tend to agree that his Wailers career from 1967-1971 is his best.
  • Let's not forget the late-Seventies and early-Eighties bands of the 2-Tone movement, like the Specials and the Beat, who revived ska in the U.K. Not to mention Madness, who helped to bring it to mainstream attention.
  • The Toasters. The Toasters were the first third wave ska band from the United States and helped to popularize the genre in America.
  • Reel Big Fish, the first breakout hitmakers of the Orange County ska scene. Their song 'Sell Out' has become a ska/punk anthem.
    • And whose live shows are just about the most fun it's possible to have without, y'know...
  • How did this page go so long without Five Iron Frenzy? One of the best Christian bands.
  • How did this page go so long without Sublime? "Santeria" is one of the most well known modern reggae songs.
  • How did this page go even longer without the Skatalites, arguably the first ska band ever, and ancestor to everything else in this section?
  • Prince Buster was one of the most influential members of the first wave ska movement, cited by Madness, the Specials and the Selecter as a big influence. One of his songs lends Madness its name (and he himself is referenced by their very first single, "The Prince").
  • If you don't mention Buju Banton, Beenie Man or Bounty Killa, you're doing it wrong. These ARE the legends of 90s reggae, and this is the one genre on this page for which "of note" doesn't only mean "popular in the US".


Other

Notes

  1. tuning based upon pure mathematical frequency ratios
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.