7 Images That Show The History Of Music

Art does not exist in a vacuum.

What we create and consume comes from who we are, where we are, and what came before us. Steal Like An Artist author Austin Kleon describes these webs of connections as an artistic genealogy.

As both an admirer of the arts and a history nerd I love this idea, and spent most of my morning searching for graphics that shows the lineage and influence of different artists.

For this particular post I focused on music — seeking out images that illustrate the interconnectedness of different genres, albums, and artists.

As much as possible I try to give credit to the person responsible for the pictures, but in some cases that wasn’t possible. If you like any of the illustrations, I urge you to support the artists responsible in whatever way you can.

School Of Rock

The picture above is from Richard Linklater’s School Of Rock. Jack Black’s character uses it to teach his students about Rock N Roll and its many sub genres.

As a teenager, I used both the film and the diagram to acquaint myself with the genre. I still think it’s a great jumping off point for aspiring rockers of all ages.

The Rock N Roll Metro

I couldn’t find a source for this image, but I had to include it. The Metro Map is a cool visual and metaphor for discovering music.

In it we have the major hubs (tent pool artists like Bob Dylan and The Beatles). Specific routes (different genres and subgenres). And of course a bevy of stations, big and small, you can hop out at (individual artists to explore).

Blueprint For Alt Rock

Alternative Rock” is a notoriously nebulous label. It’s been used as an umbrella term to describe artists ranging from The Pixies to Imagine Dragons. The blueprint above shows its Punk Rock origins and maps how it sprawled out to genres like New Wave and 90s Grunge.

The image comes from UK based designed company Dorothy. If you like what you see, they have similar blueprints for Hip Hop, Electronic Music, and Rock N Roll.

Jazz Family Tree

No list on music genealogy would be complete without an old-fashioned family tree. This picture shows the many roots (Blues and Ragtimes) and branches of Jazz (Be-bop and Bossa Nova). I could not find the name of the artist so I’ll link to the site where I found it.

For a more detailed genealogy of Jazz check out this poster of the history of Jazz in the United States. I would have included it on the list, but it’s a little too detailed to fit nicely on the page.

New York’s Hip Hop Party

Genealogy doesn’t have to span an entire genre of music. It can encompass a particular city or scene. The pic above maps the history of Hip Hop in New York. It marks which borough the cities best rappers grew up in.

The map comes courtesy of visualization company A Very Small Army. They’re site has rad images that illustrate everything from the scope of Disney’s power to the things humans launch in space.

The Influence Of Nas’ Illmatic —

Click Here To Open Full Page Version Of Chart

Nas’ Illmatic is arguably the most influential Rap album of all time. Grantland’s chart shows just how influential it is by listing a few of the (at least) 312 times it’s been sampled. As writer Shea Serrano points out, this is especially impressive given the album only has 10 tracks (one of which is an intro).

If you crunch the numbers, on average, each of the tracks on Illmatic have been sampled 35.4 times. In comparison, Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt (also considered a Hip Hop classic), only averages 5 samples per song.

All Hail The Funky Drummer

To round us out I want to show the genealogy of James Brown’s Funky drummer. The song is not only a classic funk tune, but it’s the second most sampled song of all time.

Everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Public Enemy have borrowed parts of the song. Clyde Stubblefield’s drum loop in particular has been heavily influential in Hip Hop. This Flikr image captures a sliver of the estimated 502 songs that have sampled the tune.

Educator and Copywriter Who Writes About Creativity, Marketing, Pop Culture, And Occasionally Mindfulness Meditation