Country and Rock... what's the difference?

HyeJinx1984HyeJinx1984 Road Warrior
edited December 2008 in History of Rock
Clearly there is one... but what is it? Listening to the Country songs that have been released for RB, I'm trying to find that one (or more) thing that really sets them apart. They can both have the same instrument structure of guitar/bass/drums and a vocalist... both are capable of having guitar solos (a usually Rock-associated thing)... it can't just be a "I know it when I hear it" thing... even though right now, for me, that seems to be the case. Audibly, I can tell the difference right away between country and rock, but if you were to ask me to list or verbalize the difference, I couldn't. Maybe the twangy-ness of the guitar? But Blues can do that, and Blues is Rock's best friend and blood brother...

I'm not sure. what's the difference?

Comments

  • Soror_YZBLSoror_YZBL Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    The simple answer is that rock is derived from the blues whereas country is derived from folk music. But then you've got folk rock and bluesy country, so that sorta shoots that out of the water.
  • HyeJinx1984HyeJinx1984 Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    LOL yes... but even then, I'm not even talking about where it derived from. I'm just saying... play a typical country track, then play a typical rock track, and tell me on a technical level what the difference is. I can't do that.
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited December 2008
    Well, obvious differences come from the singer. "Country singing" has a completely distinct sound, and is almost always recognizable.

    Then, of course, the instruments that are used in the two different styles are different.
  • GowienczykGowienczyk Pooper of Parties
    edited December 2008
  • HyeJinx1984HyeJinx1984 Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    Gowienczyk;1693734 said:
    Wow... just wow.
    ? Care to elaborate?
  • Rockbandfan23467Rockbandfan23467 Headliner
    edited December 2008
    @ Soro: The first music that could be called Rock resembled Country more so than Blues.
  • topperharleytopperharley Son of Statler and Waldorf
    edited December 2008
    HyeJinx1984;1693522 said:
    if you were to ask me to list or verbalize the difference, I couldn't
    HyeJinx1984;1693684 said:
    tell me on a technical level what the difference is
    You could also say, "both abstract paintings and surrealism paintings use the same colors, both present familiar objects in ways that do not reflect their appearance in reality, so what's the difference?" And on that level, there probably is no difference. It's more the aesthetics and how those elements are combined to create the whole.

    With rock and country, they both use the same general elements (guitar, bass, drums, vocals), but that's an overly simplistic breakdown of the two styles of music. I would say, and these are also overgeneralizations:

    1. Rock tends to have a more distorted sound whereas country tends to have a cleaner sound. This may be one reason why the ratio of female/male vocalists is higher in country than rock - female voices (which, on average, are lighter than male voices) are less likely to be overpowered in country music than rock music.

    2. Rock tends to place a greater emphasis on the music than county, where the music tends more to be a vehicle for the vocals (again, this may be one of the reasons why the ratio of female/male vocalists is higher) - so the average rock song has more complexity even in the rhythm sections than the average country song.

    3. Country is more likely to lean to the folk/bluegrass genres, with instruments like slide guitar, steel guitar, fiddle, and banjo - with the exception of slide guitar, I can't think of a rock song that uses those instruments. Rock is more likely to lean to the blues genre, with I-IV-V chord progressions and similar elements.

    There are exceptions, of course. Some rock songs are very simple, have a very clean sound, and emphasize the vocals, just as some country songs are more complex, have a dirtier sound, and the vocals are just another instrument in the final mix.
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    Rock and Roll was essentially the bi-product of country and r&b. Modern country has taken on more of a rock flavor dropping most of the traditional country instrumentation over the years and much of it is nothing more than light rock with a southern accent, especially those acts that have dropped fiddles, banjos and steel guitar. Traditional country acts also would favor the upright bass over both the electric bass and the drumset.
  • Julio_Strikes_BackJulio_Strikes_Back Headliner
    edited December 2008
    Country singers have a distinct southern accent, most songs have fiddle and/or banjo and/or whiny slide-guitar.
  • citric_bulletscitric_bullets Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    My theory teacher said they only (or at least almost exclusively) use major chords in country. That's different.
  • Soror_YZBLSoror_YZBL Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    citric_bullets;1694402 said:
    My theory teacher said they only (or at least almost exclusively) use major chords in country. That's different.
    Your teacher is wrong. I can name about 10 country songs off the top of my head in a minor chord:

    Thunder Rolls - Garth Brooks
    Crescent Moon - Cowboy Junkies
    The Night the Lights went out in Georgia - Reba McIntire (or Mama, your pick)
    Kawliga - Hank Williams Jr
    Ghost Riders in the Sky - The Outlaws
    Harrisburg - Josh Ritter
    Midnight in Montgomery - Alan Jackson

    Ok, i can't think of any more. I thought Fancy was, then i grabbed my guitar and found out it's not (it's in F# major). It's probably going to be a ballad if it's a minor key, though. Kawliga and Ghost Riders are the exceptions above.

    Oh, and early rock didn't sound like the country of its time. 50's country was either honky tonk or Nashville, neither of which sound like the bluesy 50's rock. Nowadays country does sound like old rock, but that's because of its own evolution.
  • MronoCMronoC Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    Rockbandfan23467;1693815 said:
    @ Soro: The first music that could be called Rock resembled Country more so than Blues.
    To be more specific, early rock combined a blues rhythm guitar with Country influenced licks and solos (see: Maybellene)

    I guess the biggest difference is that rock music features high energy rhythm in guitar and bass playing, I guess you could say rock is more staccato and country is more legato.
  • My name is FezMy name is Fez Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    THE SOUTHERN DRAWL AND TWANGY GUITARS HUR HUR.

    I don't like country, but I'm obviously not knowledgable enough in the topic to really give you a clear answer on the difference.
  • polishdog90polishdog90 Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    I think that the scales that the singers generally use have a lot to do with it. If you listen to country harmonies versus rock harmonies they sound totally different.
  • QuinarvyQuinarvy Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    Country sucks.

    Sorry, couldn't pass on that one.

    The guitar twangy-ness/lack of distortion, the singer, the topics of singing (As Tim McGraw said on SNL, in country they sing of love...and beer, and bar fights, and love in bars, etc.), the additional instruments (keyboard vs. vilolin), the drums (the drumsets will be different), the basses in some instances (stand up vs. electric), etc.
  • HyeJinx1984HyeJinx1984 Road Warrior
    edited December 2008
    I guess the reason I find this interesting is because Rock is such a huge umbrella genre with so many sub genre's within it that, upon any kind of analysis, have very little in common, it almost seems that country may as well be a sub genre of rock... but clearly and definitively is not. What I'm trying to get to is, WHY? Take Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" and Abnormality's "Visions"... they have very little, if anything, in common yet fall under the umbrella of "Rock Music" (though clearly not the same subgenre).

    Yet it could be argued that Maybellene has far more in common with most country music than it does with Visions. I've seen people make the argument that Rock is defined by it's usual instruments of guitar, bass and drums... but country clearly has those instruments too. So then you would make the case, it is HOW the instruments are used... but it would be pretty hard to say that chuck berry uses his instruments the way abnormality does.

    and what about Southern Rock? A typical country song probably has more in common with Lynyrd Skynyrd (one of the defining bands of Rock music imho) than Skynyrd has in common with, say, Nine Inch Nails... but, again, even with it being so very close, almost bordering country music, Skynyrd is still, rightfully so, considered Rock music. This is just a fascinating phenomenon to me.
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