Music 103 (W02)
14 April 2015
My Interpretation of Rhythm and Blues
Music is a language that is universal. A language that continues to grow and evolve as time goes on. The history of music dating way back to ancient times often embodied the spirit of the people. Good music tells a story even when there is no words as we have seen in the works of Stravinsky and Wagner. Music can have great meaning to the listener because it has the ability to capture your heart and your imagination. The style of music that captured my imagination from a very young age is Rhythm and Blues, also known as R&B.
This style of music has changed so much over the years, from deep soulful music that told the story of the African American experiences and struggles. To the music of today that seems to be all about, getting money, being independent and driving nice cars. With the exceptions of a select few artist, who still understand the artistry of R&B.
Soulful R&B artist of the 20th century, like Aretha Franklin, Mary J Blige, and Chaka Khan’s music was the soundtrack of the African Americans experience and could be heard in all of urban areas across the country. Whereas Groups like The Supremes and The Temptations transcended the urban areas and went mainstream.
Here in the 21st century we have artist like Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Arianna Grande who are now making their mark on the world threw R&B music. Just like any other type of music, R&B is a forever changing genre that encompasses certain elements of soul and jazz music. Groups like TLC, Boys II Men and Dru Hill although, popular in his or her day, have faded into the background as the official last chapter of R&B music for the 20th century and the last chapter of the slow & soulfulness of R&B.
I have lived through two eras of R&B music although, they are the same in name and theory of innovation however, they are different in style and composition. Both styles have their own way of conveying certain emotions. I remember listening to R&B before the turn of the century, it was an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes I would find myself playing the oldies music just to connect with my emotions. Those songs said all the things I wish I could say. R&B music taught me how to feel and reciprocate affection. The 80’s & 90’s music was filled with friendly groups singing passionately about love and what it meant to be in love. During that era, artists were heavily dependent on influences from late jazz compositions and classic blues. R&B borrowed the use of various instruments that added depth to the music and created sounds that at that time couldn’t be created or altered without live instruments. Now a days they are using beats created on the computer.
The earlier R&B songs included the strict formation of jazz music, while incorporating the loose ad libs of early jazz. From the Blues, early R&B borrowed the soul and subject matter. In early blues pieces artist sang about love. It was usually about how his or her love had left them or how his or her love was missing. For example, in Bessie Smith’s song Saint Louis Blues she sang about how much she loved her boyfriend, and how he had used her then left her, but oddly she was still in love with him. Similar in subject matter is the popular 90s song by Mariah Carey, You Will Always Be My Baby. I noticed that this is a reoccurring theme in blues music, and this reoccurrence is paralleled in older R&B music.
Throughout my years there have been many R&B artist whose music I admired. From Stephanie mills, Patti Labelle and Anita Baker of the last Century to Fantasia, Usher and Jennifer Hudson of today. However, none of the artist that I mentioned thus far have impacted my life as much as my favorite artist of all time, the Queen B herself, Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles…