Music Technology: Stylistic Finger prints of Rap and Hip Hop

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  • Vocals (Predominantly male) Rapping
  • Record decks (Turntables)
  • Samplers
  • Synthesizers
  • Drum Machine
  • Sometimes live instruments like guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion, bass, saxophone and other horns
Technology and Production:
  • Later styles also use samplers to create loops
  • DJ scratching creates unique sounds including reversing, pitch-shifting and filtering
  • Special effects from synthesizers / non-pitched sound effects
  • Drum machines used instead of or alongside loops
  • Original hip-hop artists used two or more record decks to play instrumental grooves – often drum and bass breaks – while mixing in other patterns or short hits from other records
  • Music often has a lo-fi quality
  • Deep bass frequencies – often from kick-drum sounds
Performance and Arrangement:
  • Melodic elements are normally short motifs
  • Use of riffs, often repetitive
  • Based mainly on repeating rhythmic patterns – loops
  • Sometimes no bass line
  • Unique timbres created by DJ scratching techniques
  • Harmonic elements often have little importance, no large scale chord patterns or complex harmony
  • Rappers perform over the beats of a DJ
  • Frequent use of call and response chants
  • Use of beat boxing
  • Songs typically have a verse -chorus structure with the chorus based on a refrain with catchy hook, often delivered by several rappers
  • Funk
  • Disco
  • Soul
  • R&B
  • Reggae – toasters on sound systems, dub
  • Scat singing
Key Terms and Facts:
  • Djing – Scratching, Record Decks, Turntables, Crossfading
  • Sampling – Loops, samples, Drum machines


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