Punk music, or punk rock, originated in the United States in a club called CBGB in New York City in the mid-1970s with Television (band) and The Ramones followed by the still popular The Dead Kennedys. It was seen as a response to the cultural sterility of progressive rock and other highly commercialized forms of rock. Although punk had limited popularity in America, it quickly spread to the UK where bands such as The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Clash became massively popular.
While many punk bands are apolitical, or may even be conservative, a number of punk bands are associated with far-left movements such as AntiFa or racist skinheads. Examples of AntiFa punk bands include the anthemic Los Fastidios, while among left-wing racists the band Blue Eyed Devils is prominent, with explicit album titles such as Aryans vs. Aliens.
However, some punk bands embrace a more uplifting and conservative message, particularly as scene in the Straightedge movement which eschews alcohol, smoking, drugs, and premarital sex as well as liberal social engineering (c.f. Minor Threat's "Guilty of Being White" which rebuts the "white privilege" narrative).
Punk is characterised by up-tempo arrangements, and seldom employs instruments other than guitar, bass, and drums. By design, the songs are usually structured to be very simplistic, with the 1-4-5 chord progression being typical. The lyrics, which are almost always written in a 1-1, 2-2 rhyme scheme, can be concerned with any topic, but usually deal with some aspect of youth culture or express some theme of "punk attitude" such as opposition to authority.
Various methods of dancing to punk rock have emerged, such as skanking, pogo-ing, and slam dancing. Most punk-style dancing is synasthetically expressive of an emotion, rather than a particular representational style, such as a jitterbug. Dancing tends to be individual or communal, seldom couples-oriented.
Punks typically distinguish themselves from others with their unmistakable appearances. This has included things such as Mohawk hairstyles, tight pants, studded leather jackets, bullet belts, combat boots, etc. Clothing and hairstyles vary widely throughout the punk scene, and often particular outfits denote particular strains of punk or core-beliefs. Most true punks however will claim that the punk subculture is more based on the idea of non-conformity.
Subgenres of punk
As punk-rock grew in popularity, several subgenres became apparent, some of which represent very fine distinctions (such as anarcho-punk), or small (Muslim punk) or localized (Nardcore) groupings. Some subgeneric names are probably useful, however, or at least well-known. Hardcore punk, usually characterized by fast tempos and a stripped-down/minimalist sound was a staple of West Coast punk during the 1980s, especially in the important Southern California-region and has since spread throughout the world. New Wave, despite being descended of punk, developed its own distinctive sounds and subculture respectively. Forms such as Grunge and Emotive Hardcore(both descended of the Post-Hardcore punk movement) each developed largely into their own subcultures respectively in their own right.
- David Horn (5 October 2017). Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume 11: Genres: Europe. Bloomsbury Academic, 598–. ISBN 978-1-5013-2610-3.
- Gabriel Kuhn (2011). Soccer Vs. the State: Tackling Football and Radical Politics. PM Press, 246–. ISBN 978-1-60486-053-5.
- Kirsten Dyck (3 October 2016). Reichsrock: The International Web of White-Power and Neo-Nazi Hate Music. Rutgers University Press, 116–. ISBN 978-0-8135-7473-8.
- Gabriel Kuhn (1 February 2010). Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics. PM Press, 272–. ISBN 978-1-60486-343-7.