History of Rhythm and Blues

Essay by yc2003College, UndergraduateB, October 2004

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Rhythm and Blues

What is Rhythm and Blues? Rhythm and Blues, or R and B, can be used to describe the stylish urban music that grew out of the urbanization of the blues. It is a form of popular music based on a mixture of blues and black folk music. Its melody is simple, but has strong repetitious rhythms. It has been influenced by jazz, jump music, as well as by black gospel music.

R and B got its roots from the blues, and took upon some of the blues principles such as, the lyrics. The lyrics were very personal, dealt with pain of desertion, betrayal, unreturned love, and about unhappy situations such as hunger, being jobless, or being broke. R and B arose from the African music that was brought over by the slaves. Field hollers, ballads, church music and rhythmic dance tunes evolved into music. In the late 1940's, black dancers turned to big bands playing blues on the saxophone.

This type of music had a heavy beat. It was louder, and it soon brought on different styles: small sax-and-piano "jump bands" using boogie- woogie rhythms, country blues bands featuring electric guitars and harmonicas; and black teenage vocal harmony groups. By the 1950's, white listeners became interested in rhythm and blues. They borrowed the form, beat, and sound to create rock and roll music. Many of the early rock hits by white performers were originally R and B hits recorded by black musicians. Some black R and B performers, like Ray Charles and James Brown, combined the style of Gospel music with R and B, creating what is known as Soul music. By the early 1960's rhythm and blues, in its narrowest sense, was an ageing and increasing genre. As R and B evolved, like the...