African American Music Through the Ages Yvette Agyei Negro Spirituals Negro Spirituals One of the earliest and ubiquitous forms of music created by blacks was the spiritual. Many of the slaves were illiterate in English. Therefore Oral transmission became the chief means of communication because of restrictions placed on slaves music became the chief means of covert communication. The spirituals originated through camp meetings and other religious exercises they started out spontaneous.The spirituals allowed blacks to maintain their African identity while identity. Hidden Meanings Many of the spirituals had hidden meanings.
Culture played the subtle role in the resistance, allowing the music, stories, and art that had been passed on from generation to generation to circulate among the African American slave community. Their hidden talent was wisely used to support one another secretly, and even help others run away to freedom. Even when the white people of America once thought they could take away the free African identity of the black people, and dehumanize them into slavery, practicing a new culture and the act of passing it on to future generations brought in the necessary hope for the entire slave community.
Slavery in America was common practice throughout the 17th, 18th, and even 19th centuries. Many are aware of the cruelty that took place in this inhumane system of labor, which regarded African Americans as property and nothing more. Though African Americans were degraded, they were still human beings, and through this they found livelihood. Among their everyday responsibilities as slaves, they found time to create relations with fellow African Americans not only from their own plantations, but also with those from adjoining plantations. These relations lead to the formation of communities, some of which labeled neighborhoods.
Melodies were passed down from parent to child and through connotations they mirrored the changing times. Many African immigrants came to the United States from West Africa, they arrived by force and were seldom permitted freedom of expression, and as a result, songs were used to voice their subjugation and desire for autonomy. As stated in class, in 1619 the first African immigrants arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, the expansion of the plantation system in the southern colonies required cheap labor, but the work was taxing. Countless slave owner’s repressed African culture (this included foreign language and dancing), they wanted to foster a docile attitude and thwart potential revolts. African slaves had a natural affinity for musical expression, the traditional and cultural roots of West Africa were assimilated into the musical styles of African immigrants in America, the music of West Africa provided social solidity and many songs were sung with merriment and unified daily life.
Cone and Wilmore proposed ideas of Black Theology. I believe that their theories show how African-Americans can gain their own identity through their own practices of religion and culture. I believe that the greatest struggle of African-Americans in a racist society is the struggle to regain collective identity and culture. However, they show how it is very possible to rise above racial discrimination, and stereotypes. Although Albert Raboteau was not necessarily a theologian, his claims of slaves finding their own way of life despite being dehumanized, easily relate to the ideas of Cone and Wilmore.
Moving their bodies to the chant or religious praise, the Africans preferred their songs and hymns opposed to hymn book. So when they were alone they made up their own spiritual songs. The … structure, and call-and-response pattern of the spirituals differ so distinctly from the songs of whites, that one must look outside the white church to discover their origin… According to a number of antebellum white observers, the spiritual was the unique creation of black
They sang! Today, these lyrics have crossed barriers and are sung in many churches across America as spirituals. However, such songs as Wade in the Water, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and Follow the Drinking Gourd, were once used as an important tool of survival by the slaves of the antebellum era. The content of many Negro spirituals consisted of a religious theme. However, Negro spirituals were not intended to be religious.
Gospel Music Gospel music began in the cotton fields of the old south. It originates from slaves singing songs of freedom about Jesus and has integrated into today’s music. Gospel music is a standard version of sanctified music that has encouraged Christian beliefs and stimulated the practice of Christian ethical principles, both inside the context of worship services and as music entertainment. Gospel music began with Thomas A. Dorsey, the Father of Gospel Music. Gospel, mean "good news," it was given the name because of the books of the Old Testament with the gospels.1 Gospel music is mostly American music reflected by significant songs.
But English colonists made only fitful efforts to bring blacks and Indians into the established church. The Powhatans and Indians further inland proved resistant to Christianity. For blacks, the oppression of slavery inevitably forced them to abandon a purely African worldview. Still, they did not come to Christianity in great numbers until evangelicals began gathering Christians from both races after the mid-eighteenth century. Although some blacks and whites formed bonds through their shared evangelical experience, Virginia's celebrated statute for religious freedom would have only limited meaning for African-Americans until after the Civil War.
Negro spirituals can also be compared to gospel music in the sense that are greatly used in the African American community, but negro spirituals have a significant difference for one they are group songs. There isn't a specific artist or person who created a spiritual. Spirituals are just bits and pieces of biblical text, experience, and prayers sometimes fashioned as a conversation. Negro Spirituals were used as songs to praise. During slavery many slaves were exposed to the christian religion when their masters went to church.