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R 'n' B, Hip-hop

R 'n' B

R 'n' B emerged in America during the late 1980s with artists such as Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston.

It is sometimes known as urban R 'n' B. It is not to be confused with earlier R&B (rhythm and blues), a style of black American music combining jazz and blues which emerged in the 1940s.

Rihanna performing on stage

Rihanna is an R 'n' B artist

Urban R 'n' B combines elements of soul and hip-hop. It often uses:

  • tight drum programming
  • lush disco-influenced string sounds
  • slick production techniques
  • lush vocal arrangements often with close harmonies
  • hip-hop influences

Close harmony is where the notes of a chord are close together rather than spread over a wide range.

R 'n' B is characterised by soul-influenced acrobatic vocals. The vocals are often:

  • semi-improvised – created according to the mood of the moment
  • melismatic – more than one note per syllable
  • virtuosic – demanding a high level of technical skill

Contemporary R 'n' B artists include Rihanna.

Listen to 'Stay' by Eternal. Notice the melismatic vocals and the use of programmed drum rhythms.

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