The 1950s was a significant decade in the United States, This period was characterized by the economic boom after World War II, the beginning of the Cold War, as well as the the civil rights movement. A unique and captivating musical genre emerged from this historical backdrop: Doo-Wop. This style of music is known for its close harmony singing and easy-to-remember tunes. Doo-Wop became popular in the African-American community and soon spread to other communities, leaving a lasting impact on American music.
The Roots of Doo-Wop: Mills Brothers and Ink Spots
Doo-Wop’s roots can be traced back to the 1930s and ’40s, the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots had notable recordings. Specifically, the Mills Brothers. were pioneers in turning small-group harmony into an art form, using In many of their recordings, they used vocal harmony to recreate the sound of string or reed sections. In contrast, the Ink Spots emphasized the importance of the tenor and bass singers as part of the pop vocal ensemble. Their influence can be heard in rhythm and blues music beginning in the 1940s, throughout the ’50s, and well into the ’70s.
Influence on Later Music: The Temptations and Female Doo-Wop
The influence of the Ink Spots and Mills Brothers is evident in the way their popular songs, like “My Prayer” (1956) by the Platters and “If I Didn’t Care” (1970) by the Moments, have been reinterpreted.Indeed, the Temptations, Motown’s leading male group during the 1960s and ’70s, developed their unique vocal style by drawing inspiration from the classic Doo-Wop sound.
The Ink Spots’ tenor lead singer, Bill Kenny, and bass singer, Hoppy Jones, served as inspiration for the Temptations’ lead singers, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, and their bass singer, Melvin Franklin. There was also a school of female Doo-Wop, best exemplified by the Chantels, the Shirelles, and Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.
Vocal Harmony: The Core of Doo-Wop Sound
At the heart of Doo-Wop lies vocal harmony, a style of vocal music in which consonant notes are sung simultaneously. Within a mostly homophonic texture, the main melody takes center stage. Vocal harmonies are a key component within several There are different subgenres of European art music, such as classical choral music and opera., as well as in popular styles from many Western cultures, ranging from folk songs to rock ballads.
In the simplest vocal harmony style, the main vocal melody is supported by a single backup vocal line, often in thirds or sixths, which fits in with the chord progression used in the song. In more intricate vocal harmony arrangements, additional backup singers may sing two or three other notes simultaneously with the main melody notes. These notes often consist of pleasing-sounding consonant thirds, sixths, and fifths.
Doo-Wop’s Enduring Legacy
Despite its origins in the 1940s and 1950s, Doo-Wop’s popularity continued into the 1960s, and its influence can still be heard in various forms of music today. The genre’s emphasis on harmony, melody, and rhythm American music has been greatly influenced by their contributions. history, making it a beloved and enduring part of our cultural landscape. As we journey through the harmonies and rhythms of the 50s, we pay tribute to the talented artists and musicians who brought Doo-Wop to life and helped shape the soundtrack of an era.
WCCW: Your Source for Classic Doo-Wop
WCCW is proud to be a part of preserving and sharing the rich history and timeless sound of Doo-Wop. By playing the hits and lesser-known gems from this golden age of music, we keep the spirit of Doo-Wop alive and introduce new generations to the harmonies and rhythms that have captured the hearts of listeners for decades.
As you immerse yourself in the world of Doo-Wop, we invite you to like, share, and subscribe to Station WCCW. Together, we’ll continue to celebrate the unique and captivating musical genre that is Doo-Wop, and ensure its legacy lives on for years to come.