Cities of influence

Here’s something a bit off the wall. I was daydreaming and got to thinking about how popular music over the last hundred years or so has moved in bursts of creativity, and from place to place. Its evolution has tended to happen as a series of musical revolutions. Similarly, different places have had their golden eras followed by times away from the limelight.

Here’s my personal take on the places at the centre of things in different eras of musical history. It’s off the top of my head, but it’s kind of interesting as a concept. Feel free to disagree (or agree) with any or all of it.

1900s / 1910s
New Orleans Ragtime, birth of jazz

1920s
Chicago Louis Armstrong, King Oliver etc
Mississippi Delta Blues

1930s
Nashville Carter Family, Roy Acuff, Jimmie Rodgers etc
St Louis / Kansas City Count Basie, jump blues

1940s
New York Bird, Diz, Miles, Bebop

1950s
New Orleans Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair
Chicago Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James etc
Memphis Elvis, Sun

1960s
Hamburg Beat groups
New York Folk revival
Liverpool Mersey Beat
Detroit Motown, Stooges, MC5, P-Funk
London Swinging London
San Francisco Summer of Love

1970s
Nashville Country rock
Los Angeles Singer-Songwriters
Philadelphia Philly Soul
Kingston Reggae
Düsseldorf Kraftwerk, Neu etc
New York CBGBs, Disco, Hip Hop
London Punk, post-punk

1980s
Los Angeles Black Flag, SST, Hardcore
Sheffield Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, Warp
Chicago House
Detroit Techno
Manchester Madchester, Acid House

1990s
Seattle Nirvana, Grunge
Berlin Tresor, Trance
London Britpop
Paris Daft Punk, Air, French House

2000s
Montreal Godspeed, Constellation, Arcade Fire
Oslo Rune Grammofon, Norwegian Jazz
Glasgow All manner of stuff :)

The currrent decade is where it all breaks down as a theory. Can’t think of anywhere that’s been particularly dominant or influential.

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4 responses to “Cities of influence

  1. Montreal perhaps. Maybe it’s early days but you have GYBE and all their off-shoots, the Constellation collective, then we can add Arcade Fire, Final Fantasy etc too

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