|Stylistic Origins:||Skiffle, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll, Soul, Doo wop, Celtic music (merseybeat)|
|Cultural Origins:||late 1950s to early 1960s in England|
|Instruments:||Guitar, Bass guitar, Drums, Vocals, Keyboards, Harmonica|
|Popularity:||Mainstream popularity in early 1960s|
|Derivatives:||Garage rock, Power pop, Pop punk, Mod revival, Britpop, Progressive rock, Proto-punk, Pub rock, Yé-yé, Psychedelic rock|
|Regional Scenes:||Merseybeat (Merseyside)|
|Other Topics:||British Invasion, Mod (lifestyle), Carnaby Street, Swinging London|
Beat music, also known as Merseybeat (for bands from Liverpool beside the River Mersey) or Brumbeat (for bands from Birmingham), is a pop music genre that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s. Beat music is a fusion of rock and roll, doo wop, skiffle, R&B and soul. Beat groups characteristically had simple guitar-dominated line-ups, with vocal harmonies and catchy tunes. Beat music has little to do with the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s, and more to do with driving rhythms, which the bands had adopted from their rhythm and blues and soul music influences.
In the late 1950s, beat groups began to thrive in Liverpool in ballrooms and halls, and it is estimated that any one time there were around 350 different bands active in the Merseyside area. Many Liverpool beat groups went to Hamburg, Germany to hone their skills. The local scene was recorded in the magazine Mersey Beat, started in 1961 by Bill Harry. Harry claims to have coined the term Mersey Beat "based on a policeman's beat and not that of the music". The Merseybeat sound remained popular only locally until the breakthrough success of The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Cilla Black and other artists. In 1964, a British Invasion of acts led by The Beatles swept across the Atlantic Ocean and stormed the charts in North America. By 1966, Merseybeat was considered passé, and had given way to the psychedelic rock of the mid- to late 1960s.
The most common instrumentation of beat groups featured lead, rhythm and bass guitars plus drums, as popularized by The Beatles, The Searchers, Gerry & The Pacemakers and others. Beat groups - even those with a separate lead singer - often sang both verses and choruses in close harmony. The vocal harmony style often resembles doo wop, with nonsense syllables in the backing vocals. Unlike in doo-wop, falsetto and bass harmonies were rare. Unlike typical rock and roll, Merseybeat was more likely to incorporate secondary harmony, especially in the middle eight. Merseybeat is typified by the synchronization of the bass guitar (usually playing only the root and fifth notes of the chords) and the bass drum, although often the bass guitar will play walking and boogie basslines. Although there are instrumental breaks, the focus is on the presentation of the song rather than instrumental prowess.
Beat bands were heavily influenced by American bands of the era, such as Buddy Holly & the Crickets (whose name inspired The Beatles' name), as well as earlier British groups such as The Shadows. In turn, the beat bands influenced younger American and British musicians, especially the early garage rock bands of the late 1960s. Other styles of music, including show tunes such as "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Till There Was You", were also adapted.