Doo wop is a vocal music style born of the union of rhythm and blues and gospel. Developed in African American communities in the United States during the 40s decade, it gained widespread popularity in the 50s and 60s. This movement arguably emerged from the streets of industrial cities in the northeast region of the country, such as NYC, Chicago, Philly, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, etc. Initially it was a musical style that was mainly aimed at an adult, African American audience, but soon it started drawing interest among teens and people from multiracial backgrounds.
Some historians assert that during this time, more than 15 thousand copies of this style were produced and recorded. The style consisted of harmonious sounds of mainly male voices, incorporating elements of rhythm and blues, swing, jazz and gospel, and to a certain extent, even rock and roll.
The actual origins of this style originated the back alleys, street corners etc. There are other sources that also claim that this movement started in porches and garages of houses hosting parties for young people, or in small gatherings of no more than 6 teenagers trying to impress girls and gain popularity. With its expansion, this phenomenon began to be practiced more openly in alleys, school gymnasiums and anywhere that could provide good acoustics to reinforce the vocal sounds. In fact, in 1975, a song named “Looking for an Echo”, written by Richard Reicheg (the author along with his band received a Grammy award for Best Instrumental Composition the following year) paid tribute to the early beginnings of doo wop, evoking the echo acoustics gained in narrow alleys.
Doo wop is characterized by acapella performances and tend to consist of melodies in which a lead vocalist is accompanied by choirs or sung/spoken phrases by the rest of the group, which usually consists of three singers or more. The most typical formations include different vocal ranges, like countertenor, falsetto tenor, baritone and bass, etc.