Streams of Tradition: The Sources of Popular Music

Overview

Songwriter Bert Berns was encouraged by Jerry Wexler, one of the partners in Atlantic Records, who gave Twist and Shout to another unknown producer, 19-year-old Phil Spector, who made a mess of Berns song with a long-forgotten duo called the Top Notes. Berns went to Scepter Records, where he produced the song with the Isley Brothers complete with his original Afro-Cuban vision and the record stayed high on the charts throughout the summer of 1962. Berns loved Cuban music he danced in mambo parlors all over New York as a youth and even traveled to Havana before Castro took over and he put the mambo in rock.

In this song, Bert Berns drew the chords and the feel straight from Guantanamera, the unofficial National anthem of Cuba. The rhythmic style of Twist and Shout is said to be borrowed from the original ballroom Latin dance known as the mambo, which developed and became popular during the forties.

Instructions – Part 1

Listen to the song – Twist and Shout (Listening Sample #1), by the Isley Brothers, released in 1962, before the Beatles version.

Listening Sample #2 is a recording of a mambo, by Tito Puente.

Listen closely to all three clips, and see if you can hear a similarity in the harmony, the bass line, and the rhythm.

Listen to the song – On Broadway (Listening Sample #4), by The Drifters, released in 1963.

In this song, the production team of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller had an enthusiasm for Brazilian music, inspired by the recordings of Italian actress Silvana Mangano, which led them to experiment with the slow samba rhythm called baion.

Listening Sample #5 is a percussion performance of the ‘baion’ rhythmic style.

In this clip, the tempo can be slowed to 50% from a button on the bottom right side of the picture. Listen to the song On Broadway, then listen to the rhythm of clip #5, and see if you can hear a similarity in the rhythm of the song, and the #5 sound clip.

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Instructions – Part 2

Write a 1 page (200-300 words) summary; submitting your finished response by submitting via text entry or a pdf.

In light of the Module 1 READING 1, READING 2 and the LISTENING, and your own personal experience in listening to this music,

– Discuss what you perceive to be the important similarities and differences between the musics of the three broad “streams”: European American music, African American music, and Latin American music. Each of these streams is made up of many styles of music, and each has profoundly influenced the others. What are some unifying themes that run through the history of American popular music? What diverse traditions that have contributed to this rich history interest you the most? You must include two quotes from the class materials that back up one of the similarities and one of the differences that you consider significant.