Thursday, 10 March 2011

Northern Soul International Music and Dance Movement

Although many people relate the sights and sounds of soul music as something native to the United States of America, it's important to point out that there were other countries involved with the soul music movement in the 1960's and ‘70's. One particularly large arm of this movement, called northern soul, took place in Europe as part of Britain's "mod scene." A combination of black American soul music and the heavy rhythm and quick tempo of the Tamla Motown sound, which was popular in the mid-1960s, this type of soul music inspired dance steps and fashions that are still recognizable today..

Like so much of the musical terminology and language that was developing during this era, the name ‘northern soul' is said to have been coined in a record shop. Dave Godin, a journalist who had a weekly column in the Blues and Soul magazine, is credited with the creating the term in the late 1960's, as a way to help his clerks know which type of music to play for customers coming from the north of England. These customers weren't interested in the modern funkier sounds playing on American radio. Instead, they were looking for the smoother, Motown-influenced soul that had been popular on the charts a handful of years prior..

Interestingly, the sounds that are now associated with northern soul in retrospect were actually the sounds of failure for most budding American artists. Those who were late in trying to jump on the Motown bandwagon found that American audiences were tired of the sultry, soulful music that had been popular just years before. As American listeners moved onto the more upbeat music that would eventually transform into the funk and pop of today, the Northern England bunch were holding on to the sweet sounds of original Motown. Artists that failed in the U.S. were quietly hailed as new talent in the U.K..

For the longest time, northern soul was kept alive because there were plenty of these "one hit wonders" for DJs and clubs to discover over and over again. Even though the music was dated, it was new on the scene, and people couldn't get enough of it. However, slowly the reserves of soul music were starting to run dry, as young artist became interested in other genres. The beginning of the 1980s almost saw the end of this movement, but thanks to the revival of the 1970s mod style, the advent of the scooterboy subculture and the popularity of the Acid jazz movement, more fans were born.

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