The Motown Beat - U of L Class Index

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Transcript The Motown Beat - U of L Class Index

The Motown Beat
• A medium tempo, between
100-120 beats per minute
• A strong backbeat
• Light timekeeping, usually
• Moderate syncopation
• A bass line in free rhythm
• A dense, multi-layered,
heterogeneous texture
Motown Melody
• Riffs
– Instrumental
riffs tend to be
• Saturation
Motown Harmony
• Our experience with the Blues taught us three useful things
about harmony
– We hear harmonies from the bass up
– I, IV and V are the three basic chords of the blues—and of early
– The change from one chord to the next creates a rhythm
Motown Instrumentation
• A rhythm section
contains three types of
– Bass instrument (standup or electric bass)
– Chord instrument
(guitar or piano)
– Percussion instrument
(drum kit, tambourine,
Dynamics and Inflection
• Dynamics refers to loudness and softness
• Inflection is dynamic variation on a small scale, a stress of one
note over another
• Hierarchy
– Vocal lines
most prominent
– Bass line and
backbeat next loudest
– All other lines in
the background
• Texture is the
relationship of
different layers of
musical activity
• Most common
a) Melody
b) A strong backbeat
c) Light percussion
• Motown songs
consist more of a set
of preferences than a
set of prescriptions
• A persistent feature in
Motown recordings is
call and response
• The form of the
song amplifies and
reinforces the
verbal message
• Mostly through the
alternation of
verse and refrain
Summary of the Motown Sound
• Light timekeeping
(percussion and
chord instruments)
• Melodic saturation
• Moderate syncopation
• Rich instrumentation
• Hierarchical dynamics
• Dense, multilayered
• Verse/Refrain forms
that climax at title phrase
Why is Motown So Influential?
• A balance between melody and rhythm
• Multiple points of entry (riffs and hooks)
• A fresh new vocal sound close to
mainstream taste
• Instrumentation that appealed to a wideranging audience
• Easy to follow forms
The Sounds of Soul (video)
What is Soul music?
Who are some of its main contributors?
What are some musical examples?
How is Soul music a reflection of the
late 1950s and early 1960s?
Standing in the Shadow of Motown
• Who are the Funk Brothers?
• What is their contribution to Motown?
• Which musician do we establish an
allegicance with? How do the filmakers
create this allegiance? What makes
this musician compelling (or not)?