Music

1/2

Doo Wop: 

In regards to music, one does not hear that term much today. Make no mistake doo wop is not like hip hop or rap. It is a genre all on its own. 

 

 

By Len "Muddy" Mardeusz

 

 

Doo Wop : The Music Part 1

 

 

Doo Wop: 

In regards to music, one does not hear that term much today. Make no mistake doo wop is not like hip hop or rap. It is a genre all on its own. Jazz used a lot of improvisation. In that respect it allowed a transition that made doo wop possible. One can not deny that doo wop got its start when singers sought to imittate band instruments with their voices. It was an efficient—as well as economical — way to recreate the sounds of the band.  Throughout doo wop you can hear vocalists sounding like string basses, trombones and raspy saxophones.

 

The Mills Brothers, founding fathers of doo wop, were famous for fooling audiences into thinking they were playing horns and strings. Another staple of doo wop was the singing of so-called “Nonsense” syllables. These were oddball sounds that offered another means of imitating an instrument.  Syllable singing took doo wop to another level. It is very evident in the Silhouettes famous yip-yip-yip..mum-mum-mum in “Get a Job” to the Cameos’ chorus of “Sanga Langa

Ding Dong”. Doo Wop artists borrowed a lot from old songbooks.

 

Suddenly, the appeal of black music to all people, especially teenagers, was not lost on record labels. They realized there was a tremendous market to capitalize on, some even came to understand  there was a great deal of talent that needed exposure. The early small labels had their heart in it. Unfortunately, their business acumen was less than proficient.  Their interest was making the “quick buck” while the iron was hot. Early in the ‘50’s young black artists always seemed

to get a raw. deal. In the early ‘50’s, white owned music stores and juke box operators referred to black artist releases as “race music”. Initially, radio ignored doo wop music for soft ball stylings of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Doris Day and the like.

 

 

That said, labels of good repute did release black music e.g. the Mills Brothers, the Ink Spots, Delta River Boys,and the Ravens, naming a few that led the road to the doo wop destination. The vocals were arranged into distinctive parts, with a high tenor, midrange harmonies with a sprinkle of oooh and aaah and thick punchy bass. At the bottom end syllable music that mimicked string basses and cellos in a mellow rich sound, a very deep voice that was distinctly black. Finally, doo wop’ s day finally arrived. Unfortunately, very few doo wap groups managed to hold on to their original members.

For example, the Dominoes would have been doomed if not for a high tenor that belonged to a 19 yr. old ex boxer named Jackie Wilson. The talent that emerged between 1951 and 1954 can only be described as undeniable. At this point radio had no choice but to jump on the doo wop wagon.

 

The Drifters were probably the most complex of all to doo wap groups. Their name alone fitted the accumulation of talent drifted from so many places. The group was jelled together by Atlantic Records, Music legend Ahmet Ertegun, who founded the label. The label signed Clyde McPhatter in 1953 to put together the Drifters. By the end of ‘53 they had a #1 hit with “Money Honey” and they would put out a list of hits for the next fifteen years. In the genre of doo wap by Atlantic Records led the musical field in doo wap.

 

Space does not allow a continiuance now. There will be a Part 2 on doo wap. I must thank Bruce 

Munro and Richard Maloof for guidance from their research book “Doo Wap