Bo Diddley beat
The Bo Diddley beat is a syncopated musical rhythm that is widely used in rock and roll and pop music. The beat is named after rhythm and blues musician Bo Diddley, who introduced and popularized the beat with his self-titled debut single.
History and composition
The Bo Diddley beat is essentially a 3-2 clave rhythm. This beat is one of the most common bell patterns found in Afro-Cuban music and can be traced as far back as sub-Saharan African music traditions. The Latin connection was so strong that Bo Diddley used maracas as a basic component of his sound. When asked how he began to use this rhythm, Bo Diddley gave many different accounts. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Diddley said he came up with the beat after listening to gospel music in church when he was twelve years old.
Sublette asserts: "In the context of the time, and especially those maracas [heard on the record], 'Bo Diddley' has to be understood as a Latin-tinged record. A rejected cut recorded at the same session was titled only 'Rhumba' on the track sheets." Somewhat resembling the Shave and a Haircut rhythm, Diddley came across it while trying to play Gene Autry's version of "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle".
According to ethnomusicologists, the Bo Diddley beat is similar to a folk tradition called "hambone". Hambone is a style used by street performers who play out the beat by slapping and patting their arms, legs, chest, and cheeks while chanting rhymes. "Handboning" can also be described as a form of corpophone—using one's body for percussion, excluding the voice—a technique inherent in African-American culture. The introduction of the neologism as a classificatory category was added to the conventional scheme of idiophone, membranophone, chordophone, aerophone, and electrophone by the American ethnomusicologist Dale A. Olsen. The Bo Diddley beat is also akin to the age-old rhythmic pattern best known as "shave and a haircut, two bits". In addition, this rhythm has been linked to Yoruba drumming from West Africa.
In its simplest form, the Bo Diddley beat can be counted out as either a one-bar or a two-bar phrase. The following consists of the count in a one-bar phrase: One e and ah, two e and ah, three e and ah, four e and ah. The bolded counts are the clave rhythm.
Songs using the Bo Diddley Beat
Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley" (1955), his debut single which introduced the Bo Diddley beat.
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The rhythm occurs in 13 rhythm and blues songs recorded between 1944 and 1955, including two by Johnny Otis from 1948. In 1952, a song with similar syncopation, "Hambone" was recorded by Red Saunders' Orchestra with the Hambone Kids. In 1944, "Rum and Coca Cola", containing the Bo Diddley beat, was recorded by the Andrews Sisters.
Later songs employing the Bo Diddley beat include:
- "I Wish You Would" by Billy Boy Arnold (1955)
- "Not Fade Away" by Buddy Holly (1957)
- "Willie and the Hand Jive" by Johnny Otis (1958)
- "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame" by Elvis Presley (1961)
- "Mystic Eyes" by Them (1965)
- "I Want Candy" by the Strangeloves (1965)
- "Please Go Home" by the Rolling Stones (1966)
- "Get Me to the World on Time" by the Electric Prunes (1967)
- "Magic Bus" by the Who (1968)
- "She Has Funny Cars" by Jefferson Airplane (1969)
- "Panic in Detroit" by David Bowie (1973)
- "Shame, Shame, Shame" by Shirley & Company (1974)
- "New York Groove" by Hello (1975)
- "She's the One" by Bruce Springsteen (1975)
- "American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1977)
- "Cuban Slide" by the Pretenders (1980)
- "Europa and the Pirate Twins" by Thomas Dolby (1981)
- "Mr. Brownstone" by Guns N' Roses (1987)
- "Faith" by George Michael (1987)
- "Desire" by U2 (1988)
- "Cannon Ball" by Duane Eddy (1996)
- "The Big 5-0" by Stan Ridgway (2004)
- "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall (2005)
- Hicks, Michaël (2000). Sixties Rock, p.36. ISBN 978-0-252-06915-4.
- Brown, Jonathan (June 3, 2008). "Bo Diddley, guitarist who inspired the Beatles and the Stones, dies aged 79". The Independent. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- "Bo Diddley". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
- "Bo Diddley". Rolling Stone. 2001. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- Peñalosa, David (2010: 244). The Clave Matrix; Afro-Cuban Rhythm: Its Principles and African Origins. Redway, CA: Bembe Inc. ISBN 1-886502-80-3.
- McDonald, Sam (September 7, 2005). "CHUNKA - CHUNKA - CHUNK A - CHUNK-CHUNK". Access World News. Daily Press. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Strauss, Neil (August 25, 2005). "The Indestructible Beat of Bo Diddley". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Sublette, Ned (2007: 83). "The Kingsmen and the Cha-cha-chá." Ed. Eric Weisbard. Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822340410
- "Blues Reflections". Afropop.org. April 3, 1970. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- Sublette, Ned. "Who Do You Love? - Bo Diddley's beat changed the course of rock music. And his lyrics evoked a history that reached all the way to Africa". Access World News. Smithsonian. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Roscetti, Ed (2008). Stuff! Good Drummers Should Know, p. 16. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 1-4234-2848-X.
- "Corpophone – Oxford Reference". doi:10.1093/acref/9780199743391.001.0001/acref-9780199743391-e-1568.
- Tamlyn, Garry Neville (March 1998). The Big Beat: Origins and Development of Snare Backbeat and other Accompanimental Rhythms in Rock'n'Roll (PDF) (Thesis). University of Liverpool. p. 284. Retrieved August 4, 2014 – via Philip Tagg.
- Rosen, Steven (March 16, 2011). "Behind The Song: "Not Fade Away"". American Songwriter. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- Barton, Geoff (September 24, 2016). "The Story Behind The Song: Ace Frehley's New York Groove - Classic Rock". Teamrock.com. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- Harris, John (2010). Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll: The Ultimate Guide to the Music, the Myths and the Madness. Hachette. p. 149. ISBN 0748114866. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- "Bo Diddley Beat – Television Tropes & Idioms". Tvtropes.org. Retrieved February 6, 2013.