According American development of timbre (tone color)

According to our textbook “During the course of the nineteenth century the music of African American communities comprised an array of genres and styles, … (a black parallel to the European American ballad tradition) …” (Starr & Waterman, page 27). Most influential in our popular music listening is the rhythmic sounds and concepts brought to this country by slaves from western Africa. African-American music began influencing the change of the regular, steady flow of rhythms in music timing to unexpected syncopation in popular music. The African American development of timbre (tone color) quality sound in music helps us distinguish different voices or instruments from one another.

Another African American trait is the call-and-response form of singing. Call-and-response is when a lead singer sings a chorus and is echoed by other singers or instruments within the piece. Anyone who lived through the eighties, will remember Take on Me by A-ha. Aside from having an excellent video, the song features a fun example of a backbeat.

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If you listen closely, you will hear a great example of a backbeat, driving its way through the song, hitting on the second and fourth beats.


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