Stevie Wonder's Effects on Modern R&B

Topics: Stevie Wonder, Bass guitar, Innervisions Pages: 12 (2927 words) Published: March 9, 2013
Stevie Wonder’s influence on modern R&B

Stevie Wonder is one of the most commercially and critically successful artists of all time, recording over thirty top ten US chart hits. His influence on many music genres is in its abundance. In the 1970’s he released a large amount of work that is still heard today and still covered today by many artists. He played many instruments including piano, numerous synthesizers, drums and bass guitar. His voice and vocal melody lines were rated amongst the best, with his style, delivery and lyrics still trying to be emulated today. The music he created spread across many genres. From the introspective psychedelic ballad of ‘Visions’ of ‘Innervisions’ to the archetypical pop song ‘Isn’t she Lovely’. He delved into funk with ‘Higher Ground’ being one example. ‘Pastime Paradise’ is an example of one of his songs that crossed many genres, with its orchestral and choral backing and rhythmical percussion elements of an Afro-Cuban nature, combined with his lyrics and melody typical of a slower ballad. The influence in modern R&B is apparent simply by the presence of the covers of his music. Marcus Miller covered ‘Higher Ground’ taking the synthesizer line in the Eb, Gb, Ab riff as a template for him to play the vocal line on the bass guitar. ‘I wish’ was used as a template for Will Smith et al to rap over for the ‘Wild, wild west’ theme tune. Also, in a similar vain, ‘Pastime Paradise’ was used by Coolio to create ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’. The string riff is the main feature taken from the original song. Extra bass, in the form of a more prominent bass guitar line and lower vocal harmonies in the chorus is added to give it a more sinister feel.

Analysis of ‘Ordinary People’ by Stevie Wonder

Bar Number| | | |
1| Intro| 4 bars| 2 bars with just Fender Rhodes and vibraphone. Drum and Bass guitar enter after in bar 3.| 4| First verse| 8 bars| Lead vocals enter with guitar following.| 12| Second verse| 8 bars (last bar serving as a pick-up to the bridge)| Backing vocals introduced in bar 16| 20| Bridge/chorus| 12 bars| Same ensemble. More sustained backing vocals| 32| Third verse| 8 bars| Electric guitar featuring more chord work| 40| Fourth verse| 8 bars (last bar serving as a pick-up to the bridge)| | 52| Alternate bridge| 4 bars| Repeat of the top voice of the F major chord descending, over the lyrics ‘In your heart’| 56| Fake fade out| 2 bars| Overdriven synth holding F|

58| Female reply. Change to moderate funk| 2 bars then 3 bars with the new groove| Same ensemble now with synthesized bass and other synthesized sounds.| 72| Female backing vocals and affected alto sax enter| Till fade out| Saxophone plays with backing vocals and in between vocal lines, instrumentation add more. |

Bar Number| | Chord Progression|
1| Intro| Dbmaj7| Dbmaj7|F-Fmaj7-F7|F6-Faug-F|
4| First verse| F|Fmaj7|F7-Cm7|Cm7-F9|Bbm7|Eb9|Fmaj9|Gm7/C| 12| Second verse| F|Fmaj7|F7-Cm7|Cm7-F9|Bbm7|Eb9|F-Fmaj7-F7|F6-Faug-F| 20| Bridge/chorus| F7sus4-F7/C-Db7/B|Bbm7|Eb9|Fmaj9-F|Gm7/C|F|Am/E|Dm7| F7sus4-F7/C-Db7/B|Bbm7|Eb9| F-Fmaj7-F7|F6-Faug-F| 32| Third verse| F|Fmaj7|F7-Cm7|Cm7-F9|Bbm7|Eb9|Fmaj9|Gm7/C| 40| Fourth verse| F|Fmaj7|F7-Cm7|Cm7-F9|Bbm7|Eb9|F-Fmaj7-F7|F6-Faug-F| 52| Alternate bridge| F-Fmaj7-F7|F6-Faug-F F-Fmaj7-F7|F6-Faug-F| 56| Fake fade out| F|F|

58| Female reply. Change to moderate funk| Fm7-Bb7-Fm7|Fm7-Bb7| Fm7-Bb7-Fm7|Fm7-Bb7 repeated.| 72| Female backing vocals and affected alto sax enter| Same as above.|

See figure 1.

Analysis of ‘Used to love U’ by John legend

Bar Number| | | |
1| Intro| 4 bars| Vocal line plus a backing line. Rap line in the back of the mix enters bar 2. Bass guitar in. drums enter at the end of bar 3.| 5| Verse 1| 8 bars| Lead vocal line accompanied by bass guitar and piano. No rapping. Drums enter at the end of bar 6. Backing vocal present in...
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