Gerard Zappa Wooster

How Classical Music Has Influenced Modern Rock

The popular phrase, “I love rock and roll,” is relatable to so many! However, today’s rock fans may be surprised to find just how much modern rock owes it’s current sound and fame to classical music. Gerard Zappa Wooster takes a look at how classical music has influenced modern rock.

Classical music has influenced modern rock by reminding musicians that the boundaries of traditionally popular song formulas could be pushed, the use of orchestral instruments, and an epic ambiance of sound.

Below, more on how classical music has influenced modern rock.

The Classical Influence

Music is such a kaleidoscope of varying genres, styles, and co-mingling influences. It makes perfect sense that one “genre” of music might be said to influence another, but perhaps none of these influences are so surprising as classical music to modern rock.

Modern rock has been associated with a culture of rebellion, innovation, and intense passion. These emotions conflict with the general public’s perception, on the other hand, of classical music: formal, disciplined, and oftentimes, complicated!

However, classical music has more in common with modern rock than many people have reason to believe. This is done by pushing boundaries, blending orchestral instruments with guitars and drums, and creating an epic mood.

Pushing Boundaries

Almost all of the musical hits one will find playing on the radio now from other genres are constructed of a predictable rhythm; verse, chorus, verse, potentially a bridge, and an ending verse and chorus again.

While these do offer pleasing resolutions to a rhythm, they are not the way that classical music was intended. Instead, it often evolved and reached new climaxes as the song went on rather than sticking to one repeated pattern.

Modern rock is famous and beloved for pushing these same boundaries; a song may have an intensely long introduction, followed by two verses and one chorus, before changing to a completely different pattern. This is a trait owed to it’s classical roots.

Use of Orchestras

One of the prime examples of the use of an orchestra in a modern rock hit was Led Zeppelin’s generational anthem, “Kashmir.” Even with the name of the edgy, rebellious genre in the song’s title, it is famous for it’s orchestration.

An orchestra is nearly indivisible from our modern picture of what classical music includes, and with good reason. The techniques used to compose such a rich and varied, but unified, sound in a classical orchestra is what Queen undoubtedly had to study and put their own spin on the hit, and they aren’t the only band to do so.

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Epic Mood

Finally, there is nothing more true as it is intangible than the way that classical music has influenced the mood of modern rock. Classical music, with it’s builds and crescendos and daring to step outside of commonly used song routines, was noted for creating a feeling of epic emotion in audiences.

Modern Rock has often done the same thing through the same means. Whether by using orchestral instruments or simply arranging their songs through the same techniques, nobody can deny that modern rock sounds just as emotionally epic as the classic hits of yesteryear.

In Conclusion

Classical music has deeply affected modern rock in a variety of ways. It’s influence can be seen in the way that modern rock pushes the boundaries of the common formulas of popular hit songs. It is also evident by the fact that many rock songs owe their orchestra inclusion to studying classical music which created an epic feeling. Modern rock owes much to classical music!

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Nailing the Audition as A Bass Guitar Player

No matter if someone has been auditioning for 2 weeks or 20 years, the moment when they stand onstage in front of a potential band or group is always nerve-wracking. There are plenty of ways an audition can go wrong for a potential bass guitarist – but just as many ways it can go right. Gerard Zappa provides below a brief checklist for nailing the audition.

The most important way to have a successful audition is to first gather what will make the audition go smoothly. Practicing may seem like an obvious answer, but its importance cannot be understated. Finally, arrive early and be prepared for anything and everything.

Gather Information

Begin any audition by doing research, and compiling information on the audition itself, the band or group, and the venue. It’s an easy step, and one that can make a huge difference. 

Will the guitarist need to bring their own amp, or is one provided? It’s suggested to always bring your own – providing the proper equipment on your own does away with not having the proper hookups for a different type of amp, and it makes the musician appear more professional.

Will the audition require an original song, or would it be best to play something classic, or that showcases the bassist’s talents? 


It is an old adage, but the concept of ‘practice makes perfect’ has never been a foolish one. Working on transitions, where to drop out or enter, or learning to play a set in a different key may help a bassist stand out from the crowd. 

Any song played for a bass guitar audition should be memorized verbatim, note-for-note. Flubbing on the chorus or difficult bridge will not give a great impression and will take some work to overcome. 

Arrive Early

There’s no need to arrive at the audition hours beforehand, but having the time to set up equipment, get in some last-minute practice, and troubleshoot any potential technical issues will make it easier to hop right into the audition itself. Being punctual also imparts a good impression on the band.

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Be Prepared 

Anything and everything could potentially go wrong at an audition. Be prepared for sudden changes, late arrivals by other band members, technical issues, and the like. It’s also best to steel oneself for questions or requests that are out of the ordinary.

It’s impossible to know what is going to happen at an audition but by being prepared, and ready will avoid any unforeseen surprises.


Practice and preparedness are the perfect combo for succeeding at a bass guitar audition. Arriving early creates a good impression and knowing all of the details will ensure a smooth audition without outside forces keeping the bassist from doing what they do best.

Gerard Zappa Wooster

Iconic Female Rock Stars

It goes without saying that the rock genre of music is a male-dominated field. The list of men that have made their mark in the music industry is endless, and because of their prominence, it’s easy to forget the impact that the women in rock have made.

Though some of their accomplishments may have gone under the radar – Gerard Zappa says that women have shaped rock music in their own way, their contributions and influence are palpable in the music made in their respective eras, and even today.

While the list of female-rockers is infinite, below are just a handful of iconic women who will live on forever due to their legendary talents.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is considered one of the founding mothers of women in rock, and her impact on the genre will live on forever. From the notable croon of her voice, her emotionally striking lyrics, to the way her melodies reach right for the heart-center, a musician of her caliber truly comes once in a blue moon – and Nicks didn’t take the spotlight she was given for granted.

Debbie Harry

Co-founder and the voice behind the prolific band Blondie, Debbie Harry took the underground rock world by storm. She changed the blueprint for rock music, adding her own spin and birthing hits like Heart of Glass, Call Me, and more.

And though her music is undoubtedly in a league of its own, Harry’s stage presence played a huge role in getting Blondie where they are today.

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Joan Jett

When Joan Jett came onto the music scene, the world was taken by storm. She is the poster girl for the “Riot Grrrl” demographic that erupted into fame during the 90s, but outside of her noteworthy looks, attitude, and overall aesthetic, her musical talents were the foundation of her sudden skyrocketing in media.

Jett was transparent about how it felt to be a woman in a male-dominated arena, and though it seemed she had the world against her, she never once bowed to industry stereotypes, instead – she made her own.

Dolores O’Riordan

One of the most memorable voices in the music world, the timbre of Dolores O’Riordan was heard all over the world when The Cranberries rose in popularity. Born in Ireland, O’Riordan was all too familiar with being overlooked because of her gender. In search for things to give her an edge and push, she turned to singing.

And sang she did. When O’Riordan became the frontwoman for The Cranberries, young women from all over the world came face-to-face with someone who was unapologetically herself, and her pre-mature death in 2018 was met with mourning from fans of all ages.

Janis Joplin

When singer-songwriter Tracy Nelson was asked to recall her days breaking into the industry, she recalls her times being booked in the same venue with Janis Joplin. How she watched Joplin perform and couldn’t help but call her a “force of nature”.

Joplin is dubbed as the Queen of Rock, and with the way she built a legacy during a time where powerful women in music was a fairytale rather than a reality, it’s impossible to think otherwise.

Carole King

Twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Carole King defined an era of music. With her stellar songwriting ability, she wrote hit after hit for other artists (like The Beatles and Aretha Franklin) before making a name for herself as a solo performer.

Her album Tapestry, is certified multi-platinum and has won four Grammy awards. It’s also earned a spot as one of the most influential albums of all time according to music authority Rolling Stones.

Joni Mitchell

Musical trailblazer and inspiration to artists old and new, Joni Mitchell broke boundaries when she made her way into the music scene. A self-taught guitarist, the impact that Mitchell made throughout her fame makes it hard to believe that she started out singing on the streets of Toronto.

Mitchell earned a place in the music world due to her unabashed talent to write about current world events. Following a brain aneurysm in 2015, there were questions about Mitchell’s return into the music industry, but she fought for her passions – even re-learning guitar during her healing process.

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Legendary Albums That Changed Rock Music

What makes an album legendary?

It’s a science that’s yet to be perfected, but that’s what makes truly legendary albums so special and so rare. But they have the formula: noteworthy lyrics, killer melodies, and a certain je ne sais quoi that’s helped them withstand the test of time. Gerard Zappa Wooster says this is especially true when it comes to rock music.

Many of the 10 albums on this list are strikingly different. A bulk of them written, not with the intent of being hits, but solely to spread the band’s unbridled love for music – spreading the messages they’ve deemed most important.

That common ground is what makes these albums truly iconic, and in no particular order, these iconic albums are discussed below:

Back in Black


There’s a reason why Back in Black is among the most best-selling rock albums of all time. The musical collection started out with just a couple of guitar riffs from mastermind founding member Malcolm Young, and grew to be one of the most deeply-personal albums the band created.


Fleetwood Mac

Born during a time of deeply woven hardship amongst band members, the creation of Rumours changed the music world indefinitely. The conception of the album was truly the storm before the calm, written while the members were undergoing the woes of scandals, heartache, addiction, and more.

Those hardships, though, were relieved by the album’s success. Considered to be a “no-skips” album – it’s no wonder why people come back time and time again for these timeless tunes.

The Dark Side of The Moon

Pink Floyd

The album cover for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon are recognizable worldwide – but it isn’t the visuals that brought the band fame, but rather the psychedelic vibes the album emits.

To call the album intense would be an understatement, as the album’s lyrical content is nothing short of exhausting – but it’s that uninhibited understanding of the human condition that made the album go down in history.

The Cars

The Cars

Most artists find that their debut album isn’t the one that puts them on the map. However, for American rock band The Cars, this couldn’t be less true. Their 1978 self-titled album opened up with Good Times Roll, a tune with larger-than-life vocals that ruled the radio during it’s time of release.

Nowadays, the most famous song on this album is undoubtedly Just What I Needed, which is a coagulation of all the things that make rock music wonderful: an addicting melody, scream-able lyrics, and something that strikes you right in the heart.

Ask Rufus

Chaka Khan

In January 2022, the album Ask Rufus by musical legend Chaka Khan turned 45 years old. The powerhouse vocals of Khan are second to none – but when they’re crooning tunes like Tell Me Something Good alongside other hits, they’re nothing but legendary.

Abbey Road

The Beatles

The last time that the members of The Beatles were in a recording studio together, they were working on the legendary album that is Abbey Road. Full of emotion and range, love songs and anthems, and a studio feel that was different than their past projects – this album was the greatest farewell letter this British-born boy band could’ve gifted the public.

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Master of Puppets


Metallica’s discography is full of back-to-back legendary hits, and while they’re all incredible, none of them can hold a candle to the music genius that came with Master of Puppets. The album unexpectedly became the face of the thrash metal movement, and aided in the general public’s acknowledgment that metal is indeed worth a listen.


Def Leppard

Pyromania gave us Def Leppard’s ‘Photograph’, and for that, the world is all the better. Prior to the album’s release, the band was dismissed as just another heavy metal band – but once people found themselves yearning for the almost anthemic lyrics that this album gifted us with, it didn’t take long for Def Leppard to become an overnight success.

Led Zeppelin IV

Led Zeppelin

The feel of Led Zeppelin IV can be personified by a singular word: harmonious. A calculated blend of rock, blues, metal, and folk music, the band also took a chance in experimentation – trying out dynamic lyrical structure and recording techniques that made this album one for the books.

The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground

Many of the albums discussed above were immediate successes, but that wasn’t the case for The Velvet Underground’s debut musical collection. It was an economic failure – selling less than 50,000 albums in its first five years out on the market. However, the album influenced artists like David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, and endless more, making this album the album of legends.

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Studio Musicians You’ve Definitely Heard, but Never Heard Of

Some musicians are known by name — and sometimes by first name only.

Then some musicians are known by sound.

They’re behind the masterful guitar links and pulsating drumming of some of music’s greatest hits since rock and roll began. They’ve played with superstars, but they are all superstar musicians themselves.

Without unsung studio musicians, popular music wouldn’t be the same.

Gerard Zappa discusses below, a few of the great studio session players behind the greatest songs ever recorded.

The Wrecking Crew

This collective of Los Angeles-based musicians can be heard on tens of thousands of songs. The Crew’s influence is difficult to overstate.

Through the 1960s and 70s, the Wrecking Crew was the house band du jour for everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys.

Prominent members included guitarist Tommy Tedesco (heard on such classics as the Ronette’s “Be My Baby”), bass guitarist Carol Kaye (the distinctive solo on “River Deep, Mountain High”), and drummer Hal Blaine (“Mrs. Robinson,” “Monday, Monday”).

The group was the subject of an acclaimed 2008 documentary.

Jeff Porcaro

If you listened to any music from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, you likely heard Porcaro’s drumming. Well known for his work with bands such as Toto and Steely Dan, Porcaro also worked with everyone from Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney to Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen.

One of Porcaro’s unique drum patterns is heard in Toto’s landmark song “Rosanna.”

The Funk Brothers

The backup band for every Motown act from 1959 through 1972, this group of Detroit musicians (the core team numbered 13) played on numerous hits, from Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” to the Temptations’ “My Girl” and Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”

The lineup changed over the years, but among them were bassist James Jamerson and drummer Benny Benjamin.

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James Burton

Guitarist Burton made a name for himself at the age of 18 by playing the solo on the 1957 hit “Susie Q.”

Though he was a Wrecking Crew Member, Burton branched out to tour with Elvis Presley as his lead guitarist for eight years. In 2001, none other than the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards inducted Burton into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Jim Keltner

Evidence of just how good Keltner was: He played drums for most of the Beatles members’ solo careers (yes, even Ringo Starr), appearing on albums such as John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

He was also the go-to drummer in the 1970s for musicians such as Bob Dylan and Carly Simon but continued to work through the 1980s and 1990s as a drummer for Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, and Gillian Welch. Even at 80 years old, he’s still active.

The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section

A group of musicians based in the group’s titular Alabama town, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section played on more than 500 recordings between the 1960s and 1980s. Members including Norbert Putnam, David Briggs, and Barry Beckett can be heard on hits by the Rolling Stones, the Staple Singers, and Aretha Franklin.

They even earned a shout-out in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legendary “Sweet Home Alabama.”

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Most Notable Bass Lines in Rock

There’s no instrument that can bring richness and fullness to a song quite in the way a good bass can. In fact, there’s a hefty number of classic tunes out there that can be recognized by their bass lines alone earning them a ranking place on the charts, and in the hearts of music lovers everywhere.

It can only be assumed that there will be more prominent bass lines to be made in the future, but for the time being, Gerard Zappa Wooster discusses some of the greatest bass lines of all time thus far.

Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream)

In 1967, the band Cream came out with Sunshine Of Your Love, and the world was all the better for it.

Being released in the Psychedelic era of music, the song had some big shoes to fill if it wanted to make its mark on the world, but thankfully, it filled them out beautifully. It was written after the band was struck by inspiration from one of the most famous guitar players of all time – Jimi Hendrix.

The band had a lot of issues when it came to composing the song. With all of the creative differences that came with writing the lyrics and the music, the truth is that Sunshine of Your Love almost didn’t make it into the world. Thankfully, Cream was able to come together to gift us with one of the hippest melodies in music history.

Brick House (Commodores)

The year is 1977, and the Commodores are about to take over the music industry with the release of, arguably the funkiest tune of all time, Brick House. Anyone who’s been to a wedding, dance, or club since the year the song was released is familiar with the melody, and the addictive bass line is definitely part of the reason why.

When drummer Walter ‘Clyde’ Orange came into the studio with an idea and a melody in his back pocket, the Commodores were quick to build upon it. However, front man Lionel Richie credits the drummer for having the most artistic direction when it came to composing it.

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Fire (Jimi Hendrix)

The truth is this: if someone is even remotely interested in classic rock, or rock in a general capacity, they’ve heard of Jimi Hendrix – musical legend, master guitar player, and one of the most notable artists of generations old and new.

In ‘67, Hendrix came up with the main lyrics to Fire (“Let me stand next to your fire”), after the band visited their bassists’ mother’s house. It was a quick visit but was all the group needed to unearth the song that Hendrix would famously set his guitar on fire to during later performances.

Fans of the movie Wayne’s World might know the scene where Wayne falls in love with the bassist of an all-girl band after he watches her rendition of this tune (aka the meet-cute that everyone hopes to have in their lives).

Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith)

Every good band will come across a spat or two during their years together, but luckily, something beautiful can be borne from these quarrels- like Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion, which was penned after front man Steven Tyler grew frustrated with the band (and their girlfriends).

The heavy bass line of the song came first, the musical child of bassist Tom Hamilton, and with tensions high, it didn’t take long for Steven Tyler to come up with equally heavy lyrics to croon alongside the killer melody.

Those fights ended up being a good thing, as Sweet Emotion ended up being the song that welcomed the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011- a major milestone that most rock bands out there can only dream about.