Slave songs

Topics: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Music Pages: 6 (1500 words) Published: March 11, 2015
Topic: Research paper on slave songs.
I. Introduction

A. Thesis: Most of the slave songs were often adapted to represent the experience of labor in the many plantations; these songs were divided into three different groups, the working songs, the recreational ones and the spiritual songs.

II. Body Paragraph 1 – Work Songs

A. Focus on Work songs
B. The work songs differed according to the type of labor.
C. The tempo of the songs reflected the amount of work done i. Slave owners encouraged the up-tempo songs
ii. The working machined influenced the tempo
iii. Different cultures in the songs

III. Body Paragraph 2- Recreational Songs

A. Focus on dancing songs
B. Sundays were very important for the slaves.
i. Parties lasted late into the night
C. The slave owners were scared of the messages the drums sent. i. Owners banned the drums
ii. “Pattin” Juba was created

IV. Body Paragraph 3- Religious songs

A. Focus on spiritual songs
B. The conversion of the slaves
C. The Bishop
i. The church used slave songs
ii. The shouts
D. The camp meetings took place away from the cities

V. Conclusion

A. Restate thesis differently
B. How the salve songs helped shape music now-a-days

Slave Songs
In the novel, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, written by himself; Douglass narrates his life as a slave and how he is able to escape to freedom. One of the subjects often approached by the author are the slave songs. While Douglass narrates the story, Douglass explains that until he became free, he didn’t understand the meaning of slave songs until later, he was able to recognize and interpret them as laments. While Douglass analyses the various songs, he demonstrated a sense of reminiscence for when he used to sing them. Most of the songs were often adapted to represent the experience of labor in the many plantations; these songs were divided into three different groups: the working songs, the recreational ones and the spiritual songs. In the narrative, Douglass explains how slaves would sing sad songs while they were working, the songs would help the slaves coordinate group work and carry on with the difficult tasks. In his narrative, Douglass explains that the songs sang sounded happy to the slave holders, but were actually sad, “The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears.”(Douglass, 15). Due to the needed of interaction, the songs, often called “field hollers”, involved call and response. The work songs often changed according to the type of labor done, but all of them, were frequently used to pace the labor, spend time and make life less unbearable. The labor often done by slaves included: harvest work, chopping trees, flashing rice, loading cargo, and among other unbearable and hard labor. The slaves would sing in order to be concentrated due to the fact that, they would work with dangerous tools such as axes and sledge hammers. The songs would pace the work in the speed of the activity and would determine when the men, standing in line, would strike with the axe or the sledge hammer. The songs weren’t planned, they would just start as improvised music, and were later arranged to fit the specific task, and the songs were also based in easy and predictable patterns in order for easy memorization. Most of the songs were led by the leader of the specific task, the leader would start singing a part of the line and all the other workers would join him, in order to finish it, this method was essential in heavy labor to assure the workers’ safety. Over, on the other side, the slave owners understood the importance of the work songs and they quickly comprehended that the tempo of the specific song was very important. If the tempo of the song was fast, this meant that there would be more work accomplished on that day, therefore, the owners would...

Cited: "Music History Supplemental." Music History Supplemental. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2015.
PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2015.
"Songs in Slave Society." History Engine. The University of Richomnd, n.d. Web.
"Spartacus Educational." Spartacus Educational. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2015.
"Recreational Songs." Slave Songs. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jan. 2015.
"Slave Music and the Civil War." Musicology for Everyone. N.p., 25 June 2012. Web. 03 Jan. 2015.
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