The motown beat
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The Motown Beat. A medium tempo, between 100-120 beats per minute A strong backbeat Light timekeeping, usually percussion Moderate syncopation A bass line in free rhythm A dense, multi-layered, heterogeneous texture. Motown Melody. Riffs Instrumental riffs tend to be shorter Saturation.

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The Motown Beat

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The motown beat

The Motown Beat

  • A medium tempo, between 100-120 beats per minute

  • A strong backbeat

  • Light timekeeping, usually percussion

  • Moderate syncopation

  • A bass line in free rhythm

  • A dense, multi-layered, heterogeneous texture


Motown melody

Motown Melody

  • Riffs

    • Instrumental riffs tend to be shorter

  • Saturation


Motown harmony

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 rock

    • The change from one chord to the next creates a rhythm


Motown instrumentation

Motown Instrumentation

  • A rhythm section contains three types of instruments

    • Bass instrument (stand-up or electric bass)

    • Chord instrument (guitar or piano)

    • Percussion instrument (drum kit, tambourine, etc.)


Dynamics and inflection

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

Texture

  • Texture is the relationship of different layers of musical activity

    Most common

    a) Melody

    b) A strong backbeat

    c) Light percussion


Texture1

Texture

  • 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 motown beat

Form

  • The form of the song amplifies and reinforces the verbal message

  • Mostly through the alternation of verse and refrain


Summary of the motown sound

Summary of the Motown Sound

  • Light timekeeping (percussion and chord instruments)

  • Melodic saturation

  • Moderate syncopation

  • Rich instrumentation

  • Hierarchical dynamics

  • Dense, multilayered texture

  • Verse/Refrain forms that climax at title phrase


Why is motown so influential

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 wide-ranging audience

  • Easy to follow forms


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