Perhaps more important in the context of african

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Unformatted text preview: slaves by changing the words to ones that could be more clearly enunciated and more readily understood by white audiences. A second important early composer was Harry Thacker Burleigh (1866- 1949), considered to be the first black man to acquire a national reputation as a composer, arranger, and singer. He is best known for his solo arrangement of "Deep River" in 1916. Over the years, academic choirs and artists such as Roland Hayes, Paul Robeson, and Marian Anderson included spirituals in their concerts, helping raise the stature of spirituals in the repertoire of solo song and choral works. Due both to the proliferation of choirs specializing in the singing of spirituals and to the solo and choir arrangements that were made of spirituals, the black spiritual became fairly well known throughout the United States by the end of the nineteenth century. Today, spirituals––both as solos and in choir arrangements––continue to be frequent additions to concert repertoire. 1 Bekker, p. 32 6 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 ROOTS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC: STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS HTTP://WWW.RHAPSODY.COM/MEMBERS/0YR6V2/PLAYLISTS/MP.172066562 Africa is a huge continent, many times the size of the United States. At the time of the slave trade, it consisted of a vast number of "village states" and "family states," forming at least 2,000 tribal groups who spoke somewhere in the vicinity of 800 distinct languages divided into 2,400 dialects (Roberts, p. 4). Each of these social units had its unique history, language, pastimes, customs, and music traditions. Although most of the slaves were taken from the relatively confined coastal areas around the Gulf of Guinea, thousands of separate tribal constituencies existed, including the Ashanti, Wa, Twi, Akan, Ga, Ewe, Kwa, Yoruba, Mandingo, Tshi and Ibo. (Roach, p. 3) Acknowledging this incredible diversity, there were also several areas of commonalities. COMMONALITIES AMONG AFRICAN MUSIC TRADITIONS Integration of Music With Life Music was an essential and inseparable part of African life, heard in conjunction with other activities rather than separately as entertainment. It served as an important component in the observation and celebration of nearly every activity of the life- cycle from birth to death, work to recreation, sowing to harvest, and hunts to feasts. Music also played an essential role in providing cultural cohesion, as most tribes used songs, stories, and dances to transmit important historical and social information from one generation to the next. The elements were prescribed by tradition, but blended according to the needs of the occasion, taking into account the age, sex and status of the participants. The mixture of these elements was so thoroughly melded that excising a single element would render that element meaningless. For example, a master drummer might call people together to celebrate a successful harvest by beginning with a specific rhythmic pattern based on the inflection of words describing the harvest. This would then serve as the inspiration for participants to dance, sing, and act out the meaning of the words that the pattern conveyed. Music was such an integral part of being human that in some of the languages, there is no indigenous word for "music;" there was no reason to give it a separate name. (Roberts, p. 6) Close Relationship Between Performer and Community In European traditions at the time of the slave trade, it had been most common for specially trained musicians to perform for passive (though appreciative) audiences. In Africa, although there were professional or semi- p...
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This document was uploaded on 02/16/2014.

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