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Call and response (music) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

In music, a call and response is a series of two parts usually played or sung by different musicians. The second part is heard as a comment about or an answer to what the first has sung. This mimics or makes fun of how people talk back and forth to each other. Call and response uses the simple musical form of a verse and then a chorus used in many cultures or traditions. These songs are usually energetic and fun to listen to.

Popular music

Call and response singing is common in modern Western popular music. This is because of the influence of African music. Some cross-over rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, rock 'n' roll and rock music have a call and response style, as well.

One of the best known is the song "Ooh Poo Pah Doo", written and first recorded by Jessie Hill. The song is said to be "a nonsensical yet rollicking call-and-response workout that perfectly captures the energy of French Quarter life", by a reviewer for Allmusic. The song is so popular, it has over 100 cover versions recorded and performed live over the years by other popular musicians.

Other popular examples are The Who's song "My Generation, from the album of the same name", and "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin.

Folk music

Call and response is common in folk and choral singing of many people, especially in African musical cultures. In the West, it is most often seen in African-American work songs, military marches, and Québecois folk songs. The style is also used in dance-songs of various European countries including France (particularly Brittany) and the Faroe Islands.

In Cuban music and other latin music genres such as salsa, call and response between the lead singer and the chorus is called coro-pregón.


A singer makes a musical statement, and then the musical chorus answers together. American bluesman Muddy Waters uses call and response in one of his best known songs, "Mannish Boy". The entire song is almost entirely leader/chorus call and response.

  • CALL: Waters' vocal: "Now when I was a young boy"
  • RESPONSE: (Harmonica / rhythm section riff)
  • CALL: Waters': "At the age of 5"
  • RESPONSE: (Harmonica / rhythm section riff)

Related pages

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Llamada y respuesta (música) para niños

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