A lead singer or group of singers will sing the parts of the melody, and the rest of the singers will repeat it the same way (echo song) or answer with their own phrase (antiphony). Of course, this is also possible without singing, by playing and re-playing melodies. This genre of music is called antiphonal music.

Call and response is known in many cultures. They play an important role in traditional Christian worship. Many gospels and spirituals, but also secular Blues and Jazz songs take the form of call and response. In everyday working life, echo songs were often used to rhythmically structure and make joint, uniform work processes more bearable. A well-known example of miners from southern Africa is Shosholoza. The call and response song If I had a hammer, on the other hand, became famous in the 1950s as a political protest song from the U.S.


Pete Seeger: Tshotsholoza (1963)

Pete Seeger: If I had a Hammer (1956)