1935, proprietary name for piped music, supposedly a blend of music and Kodak, said to have been coined by Gen. George Squier (1865-1934), who, among his other important inventions, developed the system of background music for workplaces c. 1922.
"to dance to popular music with a strong beat," 1948 (in song title "We're gonna rock"), from rock (v.1) in an earlier blues slang sense of "cause to move with musical rhythm" (1922); often used at first with sexual overtones, as in the 1922 song title "My Man Rocks Me (with One Steady Roll)". The sense developed in early 1950s to "play or dance to rock and roll music." Also see rock (n.2). Related: Rocked; rocking.
In reference to music, by 1938 as "to have a rocking rhythm;" by 1977 as "exhibit the characteristics of rock music." To rock out "enjoy oneself to rock music" is by 1968. Rocksteady, Jamaican pop music style (precursor of reggae), is attested from 1969.
c. 1600, in music, "involving tones foreign to the normal tonality of the scale, not diatonic," from Latin chromaticus, from Greek khrōmatikos "relating to color, suited for color" (also used in reference to music), from khrōma (genitive khrōmatos) "color, complexion, character" (but chiefly used metaphorically of embellishments in music), originally "skin, surface" (see chroma).
Greek also used khrōma for certain modifications of the usual diatonic music scale. The reason the Greeks used this word in music is not now entirely clear. Perhaps the connection is the extended sense of khrōma, "ornaments, make-up, embellishments," via the notion of "characteristic" of a musical scale or speech.
In English, the musical sense of "progressing by half-tones, involving the sharps and flats of the staff" is by 1881. Meaning "of or pertaining to color" is from 1829.
c. 1300, menstracie, "instrumental music; action of making music for entertainment; musicians or entertainers generally, the art or occupation of minstrels," from Anglo-French menestralsie, from Old French menestrel (see minstrel).
"loving harmony or music," 1813 (in the name of a society founded in London for the promotion of instrumental music), from French philharmonique (1739), from Italian filarmonico, literally "loving harmony," from Greek philos "loving" (see philo-) + ta harmonika "theory of harmony, music," from neuter plural of harmonikos (see harmonic). The Society name was taken up in the names of many symphony orchestras.