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Stylistic Qualities: R&B utilizes blues type melodies accompanied by prominent and heavily syncopated rhythm sections.

R&B is entirely ensemble music, usually divisible into 3 main roles. The first role is that of a melodic carrier. A vocalist, a group or a lead instrument usually fulfills this role. Rhythm section is the second part of a R&B ensemble, composed of usually string and electric bass, drums, piano, organs, or electric guitars which provide a pulse for the song. Lastly, there must be a filler unit, which provides support in the form of a small vocal group repeating catchy phrases, wind instrument ensembles, electric guitars or keyboards. R&B songs are usually in major keys with blues notes, and have emphasis on even number of beats in a 32-bar pop form or a 12-bar blues arrangement. The focus of R&B lyrics, if any, varies greatly. Typical Instruments: Piano, bass, drum, organ, electric guitar, voice, wind instruments, keyboard and tenor sax. Definition: Type of African American popular music of the 1940-1960 that acted as successor to race music of earlier time periods and predecessor of soul having qualities of both blues and jazz styles. Audience Groups: Largely African Americans, though both R&B and soul quickly sped throughout North America. Canadians loyally listened to R&B and soul both through records, and in live performances typically taking place in downtown Yonge St. bars (e.g. Hawk’s Nest) and Yorkville coffeehouses (e.g. Boris’s).

Notable Musicians and Ensembles: Joe Turner, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Clyde McPhatter, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Fats Domino, Little Richard, The Platters, The Drifters, The Ravens and the Orioles.
Spotlight On Ray Charles: Ray Charles is one of the most important figures in the progression of R&B from race music and towards soul. Charles was born Sep 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia, USA and moved to Florida in his infanthood. Charles’ early life was full of grief. At the age of 7, Ray became blind, at the age of 10 his father died, and lastly, at the age of 15, his mother passed away from cancer. Ray Charles was forced to leave his school for children with disabilities where he focused for music to play piano professionally. His career skyrocketed due to his jazz pianist abilities, and was a million-seller of blues in 1953. After signing with Atlantic Records, Charles created a distinct combo of blues and gospel creating hits such as “I Got A Woman”. Afterwards, the successes just kept coming earning Charles 13 Grammies as well as many other achievements. Ray Charles died June 10, 2004 as a pianist, singer, composer, bandleader and a leading black entertainer known as “the Genius.”

Notable Canadian R&B/Soul Stars: Louis Jordan, Cy McClean, Four Soul Brothers and Billy Martin. Explanation of R&B/Soul Musical Forms: 32-Bar Pop Form: This is the most popular form and the AABA form. Basically, the A is a verse in the main tonic chord while the B is the hook. Explaining further, this song form uses two segments of tonic chord verses than going to a hook, and finishing on a cadence back in the tonic chord. 12-Bar Blues Form: This form is more difficult to understand. To gain an understanding, you must first understand chord progressions. The tonic of a chord, or I is the tonal center and the first scale degree. The subdominant of a chord is IV or the fourth scale degree, and lastly, the dominant in a scale is V and would be the fifth scale degree. In a 12-Bar Blues song, there are 12 segments, all in the same key though with different scale degrees. A song with the 12-Bar Blues form follows the following progression: I, I, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, V, V, I, I.

R&B and Soul

Who? What?

Definition: Style of African American popular music dated from the 60s onwards combining R&B and Gospel characterized by its’ strong content of emotion considered a successor to R&B music. Also used in a wider sense to depict all traits associated with African American cultural values and behaviors.

Stylistic Qualities: Soul music is a very imprecise categorization, meaning different things to different people. Typically, it features interactions of sub-styles e.g. gospel, R&B, urban pock, rock, jazz, Motown in a form which conveys strong emotions and or passion. Soul music often features sighs, sobs, falsetto, speaking or chants, shouting and a raspy sound. In addition, soul music will often have gospel phrases thrown in due to its’ church choir influences. It is usually built on brief tonal progressions with alternating verses and refrains on 32-bar pop form or 12-bar blues form. The most interesting quality of a soul song is its’ final segment. The final segment of most given soul songs will have a very dramatic singing part accompanied by bass/drums in a loud ostinato (either 1, 2, 4 bar). The electric guitar/keyboard/horn section of sax/trumpets/trombones will play crisp syncopated patterns while the backup singers repeat the title or sing a key catchy phrase. If included, a violin will add a final voice in this section of the song. The lyrics of this genre focus on either social issues or romance.

Typical Instruments: Voice, electric bass, drums, electric guitar, keyboard, horn, sax, trombones, trumpets and violins.

Notable Musicians/Ensembles: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, StevieWonder, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Impressions and Jackson 5.