Musical Characteristcs of Rap

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Musical Characteristcs of Rap

Hip-hop culture, once confined to the streets has broken into the commercial realm with force. Hip hop records top the charts week after week, rap videos have taken control of MTV, BET and the BOX, and there are dozens of hip hop magazines on the newsstands. A stroll on any city street in the United States reveals the proliferation of hip-hop styled apparel. The culture itself had much humbler beginnings, however. On the street corners and in the parks, young men and women battled through freestyle rhymes and dance moves. Whatever the time period, and whoever he MC may have been, Rap has incorporated, and included several of the "classical" musical characteristics present in most western music today. These characteristics have influenced the popularity of this genre from coast to coast; as well as, giving the music a chance to penetrate into the homes of a vast array of people (White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.). When one is referring to certain musical characteristics, pitch, dynamics, timbre, rhythm, melody, harmony, key, texture, form, and various others are usually mentioned. It is fascinating to see how many of these characteristics are present in the hip-hop culture, more specifically in rap music.

One of the most moving characteristics of rap music is rhythm. Rhythm deals with sound in time, long and short sounds combined to create a well-balanced rhythmical effect (Stewart, 1998). Rhythm includes aspects such as beat, which is simply a division of a measure marked by a beat; meter, which is a grouping of beats; accent, which is a stress on a beat; and tempo, which determines how fast or slow the selection moves. An artist that really accentuates his usage of accents is Busta Rhym...

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...ions in the rap genre.

All types of music from all different genres around the world use some of the most basic elements adapted by western music. It is evident in Negro spirituals, Gospel, Broadway Musicals, Rhythm and Blues, and Rap. These elements provide for certain congeniality between music in the world. It shows that no matter how different a certain selection of music may sound, there are many characteristics that can be found in the opposing selection of music. Rap is a brilliant form of art that has been, and will continue to express the minds of men and women through various elements of music.



Earl L. Stewart. (1998). African American Music, An Introduction. Schirmer Books.

Theodore Baker. (1995). Pocket Manuel Of Musical Terms 5th Edition. Schirimer Books.

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