R&B stands for rhythm and blues. It is a music genre whose origin is from African American cultures. The genre has changed a lot since its origin in the 1940s. The style for R&B music is usually soulful and moving. The R&B music that is pre-dominant now is contemporary R&B. it is not necessarily the same as the original R&B because it is a combination of pop, hip hop and funk. R&B basically describes popular music that is influenced by African culture even though the styles keep changing. That, however, does not mean that it cannot include non-African sources.
In the early 1950s, R&B was used to describe blue records. In the mid-fifties, it described music styles whose origin was from or included electric blues, soul music or gospel. In the 1960s, rock music was also referred to as rhythm and blues. The meaning changed again and in the seventies, it was used to describe soul and funk music. In the eighties, contemporary R&B was introduced. This type had elements of dance, hip hop, funk and soul. It was the most popular form of R&B with globally recognized artists such as Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Usher, R Kelly and Whitney Houston. R&B became so popular from the nineties and in 2004, more than three quarters of songs that topped R&B charts also appeared on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Effects of R&B Music
The audience for R&B music keeps changing. Unlike in the past when it mostly targeted African Americans, it has now become a genre that is accepted by people of all races and ages. It has, therefore, helped in shedding light on major issues in America and the world. R&B music videos and lyrics have helped shape popular culture in many countries across the world. Some lyrics and music videos, however, have been found to be offensive and disrespectful especially to women. Such lyrics and videos have contributed to false perceptions of femininity and masculinity especially among young people.
Characteristics of R&B Music
When it started, R&B music combined styles from jazz and blues. The songs would also rock n roll. A distinctive feature of R&B is the use of bass guitars and plenty of pentatonic scales. The bass guitar is usually the most dominant instrument. The symbols, snares and drums have a heavy beat too. It has similar characteristics to other music genres including funk and hip hop but it is mostly associated with black culture. It is melodic and the beat is steady. The lyrics are usually sensual and they are mostly focused on love and sex. With R&BS, more focus is put on vocals than the lyrics.
R&B has grown over time into a genre that puts emphasis on both voice and sound. New artists have made it diverse both culturally and commercially. Like most other mainstream genres, it has embraced technical innovations and diversified the instruments and sounds it uses. R&B now uses auto-tune and machine-made instruments to increase its appeal. The evolution has been facilitated by present-day R&B artists such as Drake, Chris Brown, John Legend, Ariana Grande and Pharell Williams.