Open main menu

Big-beat (also caled 'big beat' or 'bigbit') is a term used in Eastern Bloc countries in the 1960s to cover rock and roll and related genres, as the original name was unaccepted by communist authorities.

Genres of American origin, such as jazz, twist and especially rock and roll were banned or at least hardly tolerated in Eastern Bloc countries in the mid 20th century. Such music was considered as an element of American imperialism[1]. Despite the official attitude, a number of jazz bands were formed in those countries. In 1950s these bands included some rock and roll elements in their performances. The first Polish band that officially played rock and roll was Rhythm and Blues formed in 1959 and forced by the authorities to disband in 1960. The manager of Rhythm and Blues, Franciszek Walicki, to avoid the term rock and roll, coined the term "Big-beat" to refer to the band's music. In Walicki's intention it was a pure synonym of rock and roll[2], but the name became widely used in reference to any popular music with a strong rhythm and a simple melodic structure, such as rhythm and blues, madison or twist[3].

Walicki's first big-beat band was disbanded, but he formed new bands, e.g. Niebiesko-Czarni and rock and roll under the name big-beat became popular in Poland from early 1960s. In Czechoslovakia and Hungary it happened in the mid 1960s. The first rock and roll concert in the Soviet Union was performed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1966[4]. However, in the USSR rock was performed without a specific genre name, and rock bands were called just "vocal and instrumental bands" (VIA (music)). In Poland and Czechoslovakia the term "big beat" or "bigbit" was mostly used[4], while in Hungary it was called "beat"[1].

The term "big-beat" was used in Poland mostly in 1960s, while in 1970s rock was called "young generation music", and it changed as progressive rock or electronic music emerged, and in 1980s the name "rock" was already accepted by the authorities[5].


  1. ^ a b Szemere, Anna (1983). "Some institutional aspects of pop and rock in Hungary". Popular Music. 3: 121–142. doi:10.1017/S0261143000001598.
  2. ^ Radosław Marcinkiewicz (2014). "O pozorności mocno uderzającego podobieństwa między big beatem i big-beatem. W sprawie ortograficznej strony terminologii rockowej". In Marcinkiewicz, Radosław (ed.). Unisono w wielogłosie. 4. Rock a media (in Polish). Sosnowiec: GAD Records. pp. 277–293. ISBN 978-83-61637-19-6.
  3. ^ Wolański, Adam (2000). Słownik terminów muzyki rozrywkowej (in Polish). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. pp. 45, 47. ISBN 83-01-12966-2.
  4. ^ a b Mitchell, Tony (1992). "Mixing pop and politics: rock music in Czechoslovakia before and after the Velvet Revolution". Popular Music. 11 (2): 187–203. doi:10.1017/S0261143000004992.
  5. ^ Michalak, Marcin (2017). "„Bardzo poważna muzyka rozrywkowa" – czyli rock w czasopiśmie „Ruch Muzyczny" z lat 1959–2016". In Juszczyk, Andrzej; Sierzputowski, Konrad; Papier, Sylwia; Giemza, Natalia (eds.). MUTE: Muzyka/Uniwersytet/Technologia/Emocje. Studia nad Muzyką Popularną (in Polish). Cracow: AT Wydawnictwo. pp. 33–47. ISBN 978-83-63910-72-3.