The history and development of soul music

Soul Music Stylistic Fingerprints

In Soul Music, Stylistic Fingerprints by phoenixgreen2 Comments

soul music stylistic features


The stylistic fingerprints of soul music is a short list of features that can be commonly found in soul music. You should refer to this list when answering the Section B stylistic question of the AS music technology listening and analysing exam (Unit 2).


  • 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


Sources and resources:

Soul wiki –

Soul Music –


  1. Hi – any chance you could add the Soul revision cards to the website – my group last year found the Reggae ones incredibly useful!

    1. Author

      Fantastic to hear that you guys like and want these resources and it is with great pleasure to let you know that from this week we will start publishing them for both the Soul course and the Indie Rock course.

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