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The Ultimate Guide to Royalty-Free Beats Music for Your Projects


Beat music, British beat, or Merseybeat is a British popular music genre that developed, particularly in and around Liverpool, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The genre melded influences from British and American rock and roll, rhythm and blues, skiffle, traditional pop and music hall. It rose to mainstream popularity in the UK and Europe by 1963 before spreading to North America in 1964 with the British Invasion. The beat style had a significant impact on popular music and youth culture, from 1960s movements such as garage rock, folk rock and psychedelic music to 1970s punk rock and 1990s Britpop.


The exact origins of the terms 'beat music' and 'Merseybeat' are uncertain. The "beat" in each, however, derived from the driving rhythms which the bands had adopted from their rock and roll, R&B and soul music influences, rather than the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s. As the initial wave of rock and roll subsided in the later 1950s, "big beat" music, later shortened to "beat", became a live dance alternative to the balladeers like Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, and Cliff Richard who were dominating the charts.[1] The German anthropologist and music critic Ernest Borneman, who lived in England from 1933 to 1960, claimed to have coined the term in a column in Melody Maker magazine to describe the British imitation of American rock'n'roll, rhythm & blues and skiffle bands.[2]




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The name Mersey Beat was used for a Liverpool music magazine founded in 1961 by Bill Harry. Harry claims to have coined the term "based on a policeman's beat and not that of the music".[3] The band the Pacifics were renamed the Mersey Beats in February 1962 by Bob Wooler, MC at the Cavern Club, and in April that year they became the Merseybeats.[4] With the rise of the Beatles in 1963, the terms Mersey sound and Merseybeat were applied to bands and singers from Liverpool, the first time in British pop music that a sound and a location were linked together.[5] The equivalent scenes in Birmingham and London were described as Brum beat and the Tottenham Sound respectively.[6]


"[T]he chord playing of the rhythm guitar was broken up into a series of separate strokes, often one to the bar, with the regular plodding of the bass guitar and crisp drumming behind it. This gave a very different effect from the monolithic character of rock, in that the beat was given not by the duplication of one instrument in the rhythm section by another, but by an interplay between all three. This flexibility also meant that beat music could cope with a greater range of time-signatures and song shapes than rock & roll had been able to".


In the late 1950s, a flourishing culture of groups began to emerge, often out of the declining skiffle scene, in major urban centres in the UK like Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London. This was particularly true in Liverpool, where it has been estimated that there were around 350 different bands active, often playing ballrooms, concert halls and clubs.[3] Liverpool was perhaps uniquely placed within Britain to be the point of origin of a new form of music. Commentators have pointed to a combination of local solidarity, industrial decline, social deprivation, and the existence of a large population of Irish origin, the influence of which has been detected in Beat music.[11] It was also a major port with links to America, particularly through the Cunard Yanks,[12] which made for much greater access to American records and instruments like guitars, which could not easily be imported due to trade restrictions.[11] As a result, Beat bands were heavily influenced by American groups of the era, such as Buddy Holly and the Crickets (from which group the Beatles derived their name, combining it with a pun on the beat in their music),[13] and to a lesser extent by British rock and roll groups such as the Shadows.[14]


Outside of Liverpool many local scenes were less influenced by rock and roll and more by the rhythm and blues and later directly by the blues. These included bands from Birmingham who were often grouped with the beat movement, the most successful being the Spencer Davis Group and the Moody Blues. Similar blues influenced bands who broke out from local scenes to national prominence were the Animals from Newcastle[15] and Them from Belfast.[16] From London, the term Tottenham Sound was largely based around the Dave Clark Five, but other London-based British rhythm and blues and rock bands who benefited from the beat boom of this era included the Rolling Stones,[17] the Kinks and the Yardbirds.[18]


Freakbeat is a subgenre of rock and roll music developed mainly by harder-driving British groups, often those with a mod following during the Swinging London period of the mid to late 1960s.[22][23] Freakbeat bridges "British Invasion mod/R&B/pop and psychedelia".[24] The term was coined by English music journalist Phil Smee.[25] Allmusic writes that "freakbeat" is loosely defined, but generally describes the more obscure but hard-edged artists of the British Invasion era such as the Creation, the Pretty Things or Denny Laine's early solo work.[26] Other bands often mentioned as Freakbeat are the Action, the Move, the Smoke, the Sorrows, and Wimple Winch.[27]


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In music and music theory, the beat is the basic unit of time, the pulse (regularly repeating event), of the mensural level[1] (or beat level).[2] The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to a piece of music, or the numbers a musician counts while performing, though in practice this may be technically incorrect (often the first multiple level). In popular use, beat can refer to a variety of related concepts, including pulse, tempo, meter, specific rhythms, and groove.


Metric levels faster than the beat level are division levels, and slower levels are multiple levels. Beat has always been an important part of music. Some music genres such as funk will in general de-emphasize the beat, while other such as disco emphasize the beat to accompany dance.[4]


As beats are combined to form measures, each beat is divided into parts. The nature of this combination and division is what determines meter. Music where two beats are combined is in duple meter, music where three beats are combined is in triple meter. Music where the beat is split in two are in simple meter, music where the beat is split in three are called compound meter. Thus, simple duple (24, 44, etc.), simple triple (34), compound duple (68), and compound triple (98). Divisions which require numbers, tuplets (for example, dividing a quarter note into five equal parts), are irregular divisions and subdivisions. Subdivision begins two levels below the beat level: starting with a quarter note or a dotted quarter note, subdivision begins when the note is divided into sixteenth notes.


The downbeat is the first beat of the bar, i.e. number 1. The upbeat is the last beat in the previous bar which immediately precedes, and hence anticipates, the downbeat.[5] Both terms correspond to the direction taken by the hand of a conductor.


This idea of directionality of beats is significant when you translate its effect on music. The crusis of a measure or a phrase is a beginning; it propels sound and energy forward, so the sound needs to lift and have forward motion to create a sense of direction. The anacrusis leads to the crusis, but doesn't have the same 'explosion' of sound; it serves as a preparation for the crusis.[6]


An anticipatory note or succession of notes occurring before the first barline of a piece is sometimes referred to as an upbeat figure, section or phrase. Alternative expressions include "pickup" and "anacrusis" (the latter ultimately from Greek ana ["up towards"] and krousis ["strike"/"impact"] through French anacrouse). In English, anákrousis translates literally as "pushing up". The term anacrusis was borrowed from the field of poetry, in which it refers to one or more unstressed extrametrical syllables at the beginning of a line.[5]


The effect can be easily simulated by evenly and repeatedly counting to four. As a background against which to compare these various rhythms a bass drum strike on the downbeat and a constant eighth note subdivision on ride cymbal have been added, which would be counted as follows (bold denotes a stressed beat):


So "off-beat" is a musical term, commonly applied to syncopation that emphasizes the weak even beats of a bar, as opposed to the usual on-beat. This is a fundamental technique of African polyrhythm that transferred to popular western music. According to Grove Music, the "Offbeat is [often] where the downbeat is replaced by a rest or is tied over from the preceding bar".[9] The downbeat can never be the off-beat because it is the strongest beat in 44 time.[10] Certain genres tend to emphasize the off-beat, where this is a defining characteristic of rock'n'roll and ska music.


"A big part of R&B's attraction had to do with the stompin' backbeats that make it so eminently danceable," according to the Encyclopedia of Percussion.[14] An early record with an emphasised back beat throughout was "Good Rockin' Tonight" by Wynonie Harris in 1948.[15] Although drummer Earl Palmer claimed the honor for "The Fat Man" by Fats Domino in 1949, which he played on, saying he adopted it from the final "shout" or "out" chorus common in Dixieland jazz, urban contemporary gospel was stressing the back beat much earlier with hand-clapping and tambourines.[citation needed] There is a hand-clapping back beat on "Roll 'Em Pete" by Pete Johnson and Big Joe Turner, recorded in 1938.[citation needed] A distinctive back beat can be heard on "Back Beat Boogie" by Harry James And His Orchestra, recorded in late 1939.[16] Other early recorded examples include the final verse of "Grand Slam" by Benny Goodman in 1942 and some sections of The Glenn Miller Orchestra's "(I've Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo", while amateur direct-to-disc recordings of Charlie Christian jamming at Minton's Playhouse around the same time have a sustained snare-drum backbeat on the hottest choruses.[citation needed]


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