The Many Different Types of Rock Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

There are many different types of rock music. This blog will explore the different sub-genres and what makes each one unique.


Rock is a genre of music that emerged in the 1950s. It is characterized by a heavy use of electric guitars, drums, and bass. Rock music has since evolved to include many different subgenres, including alternative rock, punk rock, grunge, and heavy metal.

Classic Rock

Classic rock is a radio format which developed from the album-oriented rock (AOR) format in the early 1980s. In the United States, classic rock plays music ranging from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, primarily focusing on commercially successful hard rock popularized in arena rock concerts.

The classic rock format evolved from AOR radio stations that were attempting to appeal to an older audience by including familiar songs of the past with current hits. In 1980, AOR station MIX-96 in Dallas-Fort Worth launched the first classic rock station in the United States, followed by others such as WHYT in Detroit andYROCKin Tyler, Texas. Additional classic rock stations would debut over the next decade, including WYSPin Philadelphia, WRIFin Detroit, KLOSin Los Angeles, WWWW in Detroit, WXRTin Chicago, WPYO / WMMOin Orlando / Columbus, The Eagle(WWEG) / 106.9 The Eagle(WQLH)in Green Bay/Appleton and 97.1 Bob FM(WBSX) in Erie.

By 1985, the difference between AOR and classic rock had become clearly defined and radio programmers (such as Boston’s Charles Laquidara)[citation needed] began to play a wide range of older music on their AOR stations,[citation needed][example needed] increasing the exposure of musicians who hadn’t been heard for years and introducing new listeners to artists they never would have otherwise heard.

Hard Rock

Hard rock is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It has its roots in 1960s garage rock and psychedelic rock. Hard rock developed into a major form of popular music in the 1970s, with bands such as the Who, Boston, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Kiss, Queen, AC/DC and Van Halen. During the 1980s, some hard rock bands moved away from their hard rock roots and more towards pop rock (“hair metal” bands), while other hard rock bands remained true to theirroots (e.g., Mötley Crüe).

Hard Rock is typically characterized by heavy guitar riffs, strong rhythms, and aggressive vocals. Hard Rock generally has a fast tempo, although some slower songs are also considered Hard Rock (e.g., ballads). Hard Rock songs often deal with themes such as sex, drugs, violence or rebellion.

Progressive Rock

Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a “mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility.” It typically incorporates established musical forms with nontraditional structures and lyrical themes. Progressive rock songs are usually lengthy, have intricate compositions, and are often thematically united by an overarching narrative.

The term “progressive rock” is commonly used interchangeably with “art rock”, though the latter is sometimes used to refer more specifically to a subgenre that emerged in the mid-1960s that shared many similarities with progressive rock but was more focused on pop culture and the Billboard charts.

Punk Rock

Punk rock is a type of music that developed in the 1970s and became popular in the 1980s. It is characterized by simple, often fast-paced songs with short, catchy melodies and lyrics that often deal with social or political issues. Punk rock bands often have a DIY (do-it-yourself) approach to their music, making use of inexpensive instruments and DIY recording techniques.

Alternative Rock

Alternative rock is a genre of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. In this instance, the word “alternative” refers to the genre’s distinction from mainstream or commercial rock or pop music. The term’s original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either punk rock or post-punk. Ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music.

Alternative rock is a broad umbrella term consisting of music that differs greatly in terms of its sound, its social context, and its regional roots. By the end of the 1980s, alternative rock developed several subgenres and related styles, including ghetto tech, noise pop, indie pop, irish folk, emo, neue deutsche härte and metalcore.

Grunge Rock

Grunge rock is a type of rock music that emerged in the early 1990s. Grunge music is often characterized by heavy guitar riffs, distorted sounds, and lyrics that are sometimes dark or angsty. Grunge bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam became very popular in the early 1990s, and their success helped to popularize grunge rock.

Indie Rock

Indie rock is a genre of rock music that originated in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. Originally used to describe independent record labels, the term became associated with the music they produced and was initially used interchangeably with alternative rock. As grunge and punk revivals have influenced the genre in recent years, it has been described as a “catch-all” category that includes everything from power pop to emo to sadcore to lo-fi.

The term “indie rock” was originally used to describe the type of music independently released by small, regional record labels that were not affiliated with major record companies. These labels were often run by fans or former band members who wanted to release records by their favorite artists without having to go through the major label system. Indie rock bands were typically signed to these labels because they could not find a major label willing to sign them.

As indie rock became more popular in the 1980s and 1990s, some bands signed to major labels, but many continued to release their music on independent labels. In the 2000s, as digital downloading and file sharing became more common, some indie rock bands self-released their albums or made them available for free online.

Folk Rock

Folk rock is a musical genre that combines elements of folk music and rock music. It originated in the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s with bands such as the Beatles, the Byrds, and the Hollies, and became more prevalent in the U.S. in the early 1970s with artists such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Emmylou Harris.

The genre reached its height of popularity in the 1970s with artists such as Simon & Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, and James Taylor, and has since begun a steady decline in popularity. Nevertheless, there are still a number of excellent folk rock bands active today, including Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, and Arcade Fire.

Experimental Rock

Experimental rock, also called avant-garde rock, attempts to push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable within the genre. This may include incorporating ideas from other genres, such as jazz, classical, or electronic music. Experimental rock artists often eschew traditional song structures and forms in favor of more unconventional approaches.

Similar Posts