The History and Development of Soul Music

In by phoenixgreen

A Guide to Soul Music Worksheet




  • Vocals and backing vocals (male and female)
  • Electric Guitar
  • Piano / Electric Piano
  • Electric Organ / Keyboards
  • Bass
  • Percussion
  • Drum Kit
  • Horn Section (Trumpet, Saxophones, and Trombone)
  • String Section


Performance and Arrangement:

  • Large ensembles with a lot of the instrumentation being doubled up
  • Emotional vocal delivery. This ranged from forceful and high energy to sad, reflective and passionate
  • Driving rhythm with drums and percussion giving a steady backbeat on beats 2 and 4
  • Rhythmic, riff-based bass lines
  • Rhythmic chordal parts on piano and guitar
  • Typically brisk tempo around 120 bpm or faster, dance music
  • some slower tempo ballads
  • Strong use of vocal and instrumental hooks
  • Use of call and response
  • Short songs with simple structures e.g verse/chorus form, sometimes with a bridge and instrumental sections
  • Melodies often using a pentatonic scale with additional blues notes.


Technology and Production:

  • Early adoption of multi-track tape machines, 4-track then 8-track
  • Live recording of a complete band in a single room with acoustic screens to provide separation
  • Use of DI guitars and basses
  • Close mic recording of drums
  • vocal overdubbing
  • Use of echo chambers
  • Plate reverb such as EMT 140
  • Use of classic compressors such as Teletronix LA2A, this was mixed fairly gently
  • High quality recordings with clear vocals
  • Stereo mixes with extreme panning this is unconventional by today’s standards e.g all drums and bass on the left all vocals and other instruments on the right
  • Use of electric instruments



  • R&B
  • Gospel
  • Jazz
  • Rock