A Brief Lesson on Go-go

I've enjoyed go-go music ever since I arrived to DC for university. Since my freshman year, it's been something that struck me as interestingly new yet so familiar. Here, I'll briefly discuss what makes go-go what it is. My music theory knowledge is limited, so bear with me.

What's Go-go?

Go-go is a subgenre of music based in the DMV that has a unique kind of funk to it. Just talking about it doesn't do it justice, though. Give it a listen.

Some Examples

You may have heard E.U.'s Da Butt.
Pieces of Me by Rare Essence


The vast majority of go-go has a distinct drum line fit with sounds from a drum kit and conga and bongo drums. Other aspects of a song like the harmony and melody are often played using vocals, piano, strings, or synthesizers. The genre can have a wide range of sounds, but the core of the genre is the familiar beat, as you can see in the above examples.


The go-go rhythm is characterized by its beat. The way the swing and syncopation come together makes it funky.

Melody and Harmony

Go-go music often has aspects of funk that tie back to its jazz roots. This means that lots of jazz-style arrangements can be found throughout the genre, and because of its origin in African American culture you could say that go-go tracks have a musical similarity to other genres created by African Americans, like hip-hop, gospel, and r&b.

Additional Resources