Music Through the Ages

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Doo - wop

After the huge popularity of swing music and the big bands that were associated with this genre, America’s economics changed meaning the artists could no longer afford to support the large amount of musicians they had in their bands. This led many swing bands to simplify their sound. Until this point the band and bandleader had been the focus point to the audience, and although the singer was still important, they were not considered to be the ‘title’ of the artist itself. As bands cut down on numbers they still carried on the same style as best they could whilst keeping the basics of vocals, piano, trumpet, double bass and drums. This was the start of the gradual change into Rock and Roll music. This change combined with the influences of black gospel music from the thirties and forties allowed the genre to develop.

Doo-wop is an acapella of sounds made by a singing group as they provide a harmonic background for the lead singer. This new form of music was one of the very early changes from swing, but at this point the genre had not been given a title and was still within the rock and roll genre, however this was too general, and it was referred to as vocal group harmony. The first Doo-wop song recorded was ‘It’s too soon to know’ by the Orioles in 1948. At this time it was called race music because of

the rhythm influences from jump blues music. Other groups such as the Ravens and The Clovers increasingly used the energetic beats with gospel influences. The Penguins "Earth Angel" was the first "pure" doo-wop record. "Earth Angel" blended pop's melodic patterns and lyrical style with the emotional directness of gospel and R&B. The style became so distinct because the singers often imitated the percussive sounds of instruments such as the double bass; an example of this is "Count Every Star" by The Ravens (1950). This created a template for groups such as the Orioles who helped develop the doo-wop sound with their hit "It's Too Soon to...
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