Help me out (Motown)

eclecto-acoustic

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For my new originals project, we've kinda decided that we wanna take this in a dance-y funky groovy sort of direction. I'm having a really tough time writing music in this style, and I think it's just because my exposure to it is comparatively limited.

So. What, to you, is essential Motown (or Motown-esque) listening? What literally moves you?

We are currently a male-female duo (though if it were up to us it would be an 11-piece band with horns), so fun vocals are an absolute must. Fire away!
 

eclecto-acoustic

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"All of it" is certainly a good answer. What I have heard, including modern takes on older sounds, is just draw droppingly cool.
 

Lucidology

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You have to study popular "soul train' bands & their songs. A lot of their songs are just straight up simple funky grooves. As much as I love Motown ... Most of their songs (not all) are involved arrangements which requires an investment of time.
 

TylerE

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You have to study popular "soul train' bands & their songs. A lot of their songs are just straight up simple funky grooves. As much as I love Motown ... Most of their songs (not all) are involved arrangements which requires an investment of time.

Yeah, that's a good point. They
 

Powderfinger

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Smokey
Martha and the Vandellas
The Supremes
Jackson 5
Four Tops
Marvin Gaye
Temptations
Stevie Wonder
for starters.
 

winterblu

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Smokey
Martha and the Vandellas
The Supremes
Jackson 5
Four Tops
Marvin Gaye
Temptations
Stevie Wonder
for starters.

Good Recommendations. I'll add
Wilson Pickett
Sam and Dave (man could those guys get the joint jumpin')
Booker T and the MG's
Gladys Knight and The PiP's
 

stevieboy

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We are currently a male-female duo (though if it were up to us it would be an 11-piece band with horns), so fun vocals are an absolute must. Fire away!

Not Motown, rather Stax--Memphis soul, sort of an antithesis of Motown stylistically. Probably overall more danceable than Motown, though Motown wasn't short on that either. This album featured male female vocals, often fun. The whole album--





This particular one is the poster cut for male-female fun Soul vocals--



If that appeals to you, Sam and Dave might also.
 

Papanate

Member
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19,820
Asking what the essence of Motown consist of is a fools errand.
Being definitive as you may have noticed - gets you a thousands
examples.

But for me - I can narrow it down rather quickly - for what I think.

1. A great simple grooving rhythm section where the bass is anchoring
the melody - often in counter point. Mixing up the time between bridges,
choruses and verses is advised. It make people listen - if anything out of
curiosity - and also provides some funky feel to everything.

2. Heartfelt, Every man lyrics that don't touch to far out of the
norm of life. Think Cool Country Music.

3. A Melody that grabs people - sets sparks off - feels like something
you've heard before yet completely original.

4. Accented Horns - Horns that are arranged to kick the beat into
gear - bounce off the melody - and give people a good reason to
try their funky dance move.

5. Guitar and Keyboards that are about serving the song - and not
about showing off. They two instruments are designed to support the
rhythm section - not be the main focus. You also have to arrange them
so they fit into the simple but complex song structure.
 

frijoleghost

Silver Supporting Member
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4,085
motown is motown w/ the same writers, producers and musicians working with a pretty limited stable of artists

motownesque i take to mean soul music of the same period...memphis sound entirely different, chicago sound (curtis mayfield, etc) different again, tsop (gamble huff, thom bell) got cranked up a bit later...all of it awesome and crucial to understanding american music

as far as choosing songs, memphis stuff is simpler, funkier, more southern - greasier
 

gennation

Member
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8,052
As long as you have a solid beat 2 and beat 4 the rest is history. You got to be as snappy as the snare drum. Chord wise, take a I-VI-IV-V and chop it up, rearrange it, etc...but make sure you're feeling a solid 2 and 4. Throw a couple of turnarounds getting to each chord and some straight up I-IV-V's in there and you have the early stuff. For the rest just lift it directly like John Mayer, Maroon 5, etc...for your bridges.
 




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