African American Music Culture

Topics: Jazz, Soul music, Funk Pages: 4 (1490 words) Published: January 11, 2013
African American Music Culture

Jakiella James

“African-American gospel music is a major influence in nearly all genres of modern popular music, from rhythm ‘n blues to jazz, from soul to rock ‘n roll. The musical genre is a unique expression of the black experience in America? The emotionally-charged, wailing vocals and syncopated rhythms give the music a distinctive style. The singing is accompanied not only by instrumentals, but often also by hand-clapping, foot-stomping and shouting. Gospel music is rooted in slave spirituals and protestant hymns. During the late 1800s, the music spread in popularity among white Christians through the traveling revivals led by Evangelist Dwight Moody. The music took root in the black church after it’s embraced by the gospel music to prominence. Gospel also played a crucial role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. African-American gospel lyrics are simple, repetitive and built on the call-and-response tradition of the plantation spirituals. Singing is spontaneous and songs are jubilant and uplifting in keeping with a mood of praise and worship. Contemporary instrumentals, accompaniments include keyboards backed by guitar, drums and wind instruments, sometimes punctuated by bells, cymbals and tambourines. The music is built on syncopated rhythm, a swing beat and a chorus of simple harmonies” (Ferguson, G.).

One very consistent and obvious element in the African American culture is their music. Music was as much a part of the daily language as talking. In some traditional African cultures, the Language was very tonal and the meaning of a word or phrase could change with the tonal inflections. Some drums were designed to produce a range of pitches to accommodate the pitches of the tonal language. Songs were used to tell of the culture’s history or announce a notable deed or event. Songs were used to synchronize a group effort or task or tell of some emotional crest or valley. Music was also...
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