What Are the Characteristics of Soul Music?


Soul Music finds its origins in gospel, and the rhythm and blues music genre. Soul music became popularized during the 60's, particularly in northern inner cities like Chicago, New York and Detroit.


  • Soul music lends itself to a wide variety of emotions. Soul singers use a variety of tones from gentle and smooth, to raspy and harsh, in order to properly convey this range of emotions.

Rhythm & Blues

  • Soul music has a definitive rhythm. Soul music borrows heavily from the 12 bar, 3 line lyric style used in blues of the 40's and 50's. Pioneers of the soul music genre include artists like Ray Charles, Little Richard, James Brown and Aretha Franklin.

Call and Response

  • Soul music features a heavy call and response routine. The singer or musician "calls" out a phrase or saying, and another singer or musician provides a "response."


  • Repetition plays a major role in soul music. In the soul music genre, its not uncommon to hear the same musical notes, phrases and rhythms throughout a song,


  • Soul music infuses a wide variety of instruments together, such as the piano, drums, and the guitar. The use of horns, like the trumpet and saxophone, plays a huge role in distinguishing soul music from other music genres.

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