Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B or RnB, is a genre of popular African-American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular.
The term has subsequently had a number of shifts in meaning. In the early 1950s, the term rhythm and blues was frequently applied to bluesrecords. Starting in the mid-1950s, after this style of music contributed to the development of rock and roll, the term "R&B" became used to refer to music styles that developed from and incorporated electric blues, as well as gospel and soul music. By the 1970s, rhythm and blues was used as a blanket term for soul and funk. In the 1980s, a newer style of R&B developed, becoming known as "Contemporary R&B".
Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combined elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues, and often jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States – where music such as that of the Motown, Atlantic and Stax labels was influential during the period of the civil rights movement – and across the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.
According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying." Catchy rhythms, stressed by handclaps and extemporaneous body moves, are an important feature of soul music. Other characteristics are a call and response between the soloist and the chorus, and an especially tense vocal sound. The style also occasionally uses improvisational additions, twirls and auxiliary sounds.