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Lesson 127: Call and Response

What Does Call and Response Mean?

A call and response is two different phrases played by different musicians. The second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or a response to the first.

There is basically two different types of call and response:

  • leader/ chorus and
  • question/ answer call and response
Call and response can also be used in improvisation. One musician presents a melodical phrase which will be either replicated or improved upon by another musician or the audience.

Some Examples of Call and Response in Music

Listen to the following tunes:

  • Black Dog by Led Zeppelin
  • Day-O - a traditional Jamaican folk song
  • Don't Get around Much Anymore by Duke Ellington
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone
  • Lady Bird by Tadd Dameron
  • Mah-Ná Mah-Ná by Piero Umiliani
  • Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters
  • My Generation by The Who
  • My Sweet Lord by George Harrison
  • Once in a Lifetime by The Talking Heads
  • So What by Miles Davis

Check out my composition Riff Rough. Riff Rough is a riff blues where the first two bars of every line is the same melody/ riff, which is then answered/ commented on by the chords in three different ways.

I also wrote a lesson on how you can utilize call and response patterns when you compose/ write music or improvise. You can check it out here.

© 2014 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.