Recently I read a very interesting short article that detailed the potential of a city’s effect upon the music that arises from the surrounding area. If we really sat down and thought about it, obviously we’d realise that music all rises from certain cities or countries, and thus the cultures of these places have a great influence on the music and all other art forms that arise from these places.
Yet how much influence can these specific places extend across the globe? We have to remember that music tends to create sub-cultures that then influence fashion, language and more – this is a pretty big deal we’re talking about. So which cities have got us walking, talking, listening and dressing like that was our hometown?
1. New Orleans
One of the most influential styles of music to have ever developed was jazz. Without jazz, we’d have no soul, RnB, funk, hip-hop, house, or even guitar solos and poly-rhythms in the heaviest of rock music that stem from the use of improvisation.
Jazz can be traced to New Orleans in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Jazz came with fast, up-tempo rhythms that inspired dance styles such as tap, swing and lindy hop, whilst laying the foundations for what people view as rock’n’roll dance (and even spread influence as far as breaking, whose earliest pioneers watched tap dancers).
From the music to the dance, the fashion to the influence of it bleeding down into most of the genres we now listen to, New Orleans, Louisiana, kicked it all off. To think you wouldn’t be cutting shapes in the club (which is actually a jazz step called the Charleston) without this city!
If you really stop to think about it, there’s no surprise in realising that house music has changed the club scene on a global level, taking up serious roots here in Europe. First spreading out to NYC, Detroit and Newark in the early 80s and then across the world, house laid the foundation for all other electronic dance genres that rose up after. For this, we have the Windy City to thank.
With its recent resurgence, in particular here in the UK, house adopted its own style of dance (actual house dance, not just cutting shapes). There’s even a new kind of fashion emerging with the music – you’ve probably seen the ‘starter pack’ memes… Whether you love it or hate it, Chicago is the birthplace of this kind of boogie.
3. New York City
You should have seen this one coming. Home of multiple subcultures and the music that accompanies it, we could speak about the Harlem Renaissance, the city’s role in punk, salsa or disco, but one of the biggest and most enduring music genres and accompanying cultures is hip-hop.
We wouldn’t have hip-hop quite as we know it today without salsa and disco, and punk is pretty much a mirror image of hip-hop. It doesn’t take a genius to see how much of an influence hip-hop has had on the world: it was one of the first subcultures to reach beyond racial barriers and unite people regardless of colour, creed and gender.
Oh and if you want the simplest way it changed fashion? Hip-hop, and specifically the element of breaking, is why we wear trainers casually. And all of that is before we even think about the dress sense that’s slowly coming back that has older teens in the UK looking like they grew up in Brooklyn in the early 90s.
London is like a second New York. It’s been instrumental in several genre developments including punk, acid jazz, garage, Drum and Bass, jungle and grime…the list goes on. All these genres came with individual styles of dress, speech, different ways of partying – it’s only natural.
Plus with London being such an international city, it’s always ahead of the curve of new fashions and art trends both in terms of what’s brought into the city and what it exports. Arguably, London’s music scene is ever the precursor to the next big, happening genre. Grime is on the up, and London is definitely the stomping ground for this movement.
You didn’t see this one coming? Birmingham is actually the birthplace of both heavy metal and modern bhangra music. With legendary bands such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and several members of Led Zeppelin, it’s hardly a surprise.
Birmingham has been punching far above its weight musically for a long time, and that doesn’t look like it’s set to change any time soon – even Jay Z is using beats from a certain producer from Brum called Knox Brown…