Often these chant like expressions were rhythmically

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: were modal rather than Western major or minor), hexatonic scales (sounding like major or minor scales but with one of the scale degrees absent, usually the fourth or fifth) and pentatonic scales (scales that use five tones). Several theorists have suggested that the superimposition of African scales on European diatonic scales resulted in two ambiguous tonal areas that, in turn, created the "blue notes" popular in blues and jazz. Musicians achieve these notes through “bending” the pitch either higher or lower. These blue notes may be the result of attempts to preserve the microtonal West African traditions within the equal temperament tuning context of Western music. Listen to the rhythmic complexity in Example 1 and the Call- and- Response Texture in Example 2 Example 1: “Ghana – African Drums Conga Drums and Bongos” Example 2: “Nation” recorded by Barbara Pilgrim for the album, Traditional African Ritual Music of Guyana* *Note: Guyana is on the northern coast of South America rather than in Africa, but it is culturally Caribbean with about 30% of its population the descendents of African slaves. EARLY AFRICAN- AMERICAN MUSIC STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS 10 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony African American hollers and the early performance of spirituals use primarily free and fluid rhythm, derived from the text. Work songs tend to be more rhythmic and repetitive because of their frequent use to coordinate both physical movements and the response of the group to the leader. The melodies of spirituals, worksongs and hollers incorporate traditions of indigenous African music. Singers use microtones and improvise notes around the melodic line through ornamental devices such as swoops, slurs, smears and glides. Most spirituals as we have inherited them use the major scale, although several use natural minor. But they also use a variety of scales and pitches that have their origins in African scales. Texture, Instrumentation and Form The early spirituals were monophonic, consisting of unaccompanied melody. Later settings of spirituals are homophonic, consisting of melody with chordal accompaniment. The worksongs, hollers, and early spirituals were strictly vocal, but guitars, banjos, or anything that could produce percussive sounds (such as spoons, woodblocks, and washboards) would be added if available. Worksongs, hollers, and spirituals use a variety of different forms to organize the music, but a strong unifying formal element with clear African roots is the predominance of call- and- response. For example, in worksongs and spirituals, the leader or soloist often sings various lines and the group of laborers or the chorus answers with a specific response. Leader: Oh, poor sinner, Chorus: Now is your time, Leader: Oh, poor sinner, Chorus: Now is your time, Leader: Oh, poor sinner, Chorus: Now is your time, What you going to do when your lamp burns down? (Brooks, p. 35). PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: AFRICAN AMERICAN STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS IN “Amen Siakudumisa” performed under the leadership of James Abbington for the recording “49 Hidden Treasures from the African American Heritage Hymnal” 11 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 Early African American music was not recorded. James Abbington, with students and graduates from Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore, Maryland, searched through historical records to recreate a collection of early African- American music for this album. Before listening to the example fr...
View Full Document

Ask a homework question - tutors are online