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Difference Between Rock and Pop

rock-band Rock vs Pop

Pop music is a genre of music that is often regarded as the softer alternative to rock. It constitutes the type of songs that are relatively short and aimed at commercial recording. The main audience for pop music is the youth market although it usually cuts across age sometimes, given that this type of music constitutes relatively short love songs with a straight message that identifies with the ups and downs common in relationships of all type. Whereas rock music has got a lot of sub genres, pop music’s basic elements have fairly remained unchanged for some time now although it has on a small scale been influenced by other popular music genres.

Whereas pop music will reach out to the general audience, rock music mainly identifies with a particular subculture, having evolved from western and country music to rock and roll and then to mainstream rock. The typical sound of rock music often has three chords formed by a rhythm section of bass guitars, which are the strong, the insistent back beat and a catchy melody. Rock is often performed by a group of members known as a rock band or rock group. Each band member will usually be skilled in playing a particular instrument so it is common to find a bass guitarist, electric guitarist, a drummer and a lead singer making up a rock band. For pop artists they will usually come as solo artists or if in a group they will all be singers without anyone taking up a particular instrument. Notable pop groups include N-Sync and popular pop solo singers include Britney Spears.

Pop music gives its listeners a notably different sound from rock. Pop involves more singing and vocal expression, with a danceable beat to it and it comes as no surprise that pop songs are one of the best songs to learn dancing with. Rock on the other hand is an expression of emotions through instruments so vocals matter less. But that may be another reason rock has got many sub genres because there’s a variety of ways to express emotions through instruments. Sub genres of rock like classic rock, hard, alternative, indie and soft rock are all ways of expression of emotions using metals.

1. Pop music focuses on vocals and beat while rock focuses mainly on instruments like bass and guitar.
2. Pop music’s basic elements have not evolved much like rock which has evolved into sub genres.
3. Rock identifies with a particular subculture while pop tends to cut across audiences.
4. Rock music is made often by a group each playing a particular instrument whereas pop can be by a single artist or a group of singers.

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  2. let me fix it:
    1.rock concentrates more on instruments tahn vocals!?!? what!?!?!? rock is the beauty of mixing bass and drum grooves with cool guitar licks and an amazing voice.

  3. I would agree with all of the statements about pop, but Rock tends to be a perfect combination of all of the instruments, although not always. Some good bands that blend their sound and balance it are Coldplay, Muse, Radiohead. I know these guys are all alternative, but that is a sub-genre and Alt. tends to blend better than rock.

    • So, while I agree with all that….tell me: Sinatra, Modanna, Donna Summer=pop, and Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, ZZ Top=Rock. These are obvious, but help me draw the line. Beatles? Tori Amos? Rod Stewart? I can’t see putting Steely Dan in the same bucket as Steevie Wonder…??? Confused.

    • I’m more into stuff like AC/DC, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and such.
      It’s all about personal preference really. I don’t think that the definition of rock involves on which it concentrates on. Rock just gets to a deeper, raw and more literal part of human emotions.

  4. some of your comparisons are inaccurate. for example, you failed to mention keyboards and piano yet those two instruments are just as important in certain rock styles as drums and heavey guitars are important to others. for example, look at pink floyd, phil collins and foreigner. each is an example of rock yet all three make a heavy use of keyboards and piano along with guitars, bass and drums. while phil collins is not as heavey on instrumentals as pink floyd, phil collins is not pop. look at celtic thunder. 5 or 6 singers. sometimes alone, sometimes with the celtic thunder backup band. sounds like pop but also like rock. and pop does not go accross all ages as much as rock. many many people of all ages listen to pink floyd but only teens and very very few adults listen to lets say, justin beiber. i admire your effort to break the roads of pop and rock apart but you did not do that great of a job. look at rod stewart, he plays no instruments yet his music passes as rock and as pop, determining what song you listen too.

  5. One thing i think you forgot is that rock music is a genere as well as pop. But on the other hand, pop is more based on whats popular today.
    If you listen to stuff like Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday and others alike you will probbably categorize it as jazz rather than pop. But back in the day, the swing jazz was the pop. the popular music.

  6. there is Rock Music , and the rest is noise !

  7. I STRONGLY DISSENT. 1. First of all Rock is a form of music, pop not necessarily so. This is if you mean pop as in pop-art. In this case pop is anything that is based on modern popular culture and makes heavy use of mass media. This is to say anything nowadays may be pop, not everything is rock. 2. Formally rock is a term first used in the 50s . The term “popular music” had instead been used from the late 1800s to describe easy listening tunes. Now these tunes were mainly based on the rules of harmony derived from the classical western tradition (heptatonic scale) while rock was rooted in blues (pentatonic). So by this formulation prince = rock, zeppelin = rock, madonna = pop, lady gaga = pop and so on… 3. If you ask me the difference is the following: pop = entertainment, rock = music. True these paths are often intertwined nowadays but let’s not just make it pop = melodic vocals and keyboards, rock = screaming and guitars because i have to remind you that the beatles wrote both Michelle (blah!) and Helter Sketer (!). So what are they?

  8. Everything about this is wrong, what if I told you that in the 1950s when a popular rock artist died, it was called ‘the day the music died.’ Rock was pop in the ’50s. Pop is such a broad, general term, it could be used to describe any music aimed at teens. Rock music is also not always made by bands, ever heard of Ozzy Osbourne? How about Elvis Presley? You’ve heard of him. Everyone calls him the “King of Rock,” because he made it popular. Pop is short for popular. This isn’t supposed to be a hate comment, but I’d like to see your sources… Don’t have any? Then this is false information.

  9. We think that both genres are good.(Chris)i like rock and these artiest like Eltion john,black sabbath,ZZ top,the Beatles,Blue oyster cult,Jackson brown,bon jovi,Elvis Presley,Queen,Mickael jackson,the rolling stones,areosmith,cars is what i like now its Isaiahs turn
    I think Pop Music is one of the best catchy genres in history some artists such as Alan Walker, Adam Lambert, Marshmallow, Ariana


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