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UofL MUH 214 - Spirituals

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PAS 214 Notes: February 10, 2015SpiritualsThe Black Experience in 19th Century AmericaServitude, Resistance, SurvivalI. CharacteristicsA. Reflect transformation from African to African-American genreB. AKA Slave songsC. Most widespread AAM genre pre 20th CenturyD. Expressed the current struggle of slave life while maintaining the traditions of the pastE. Used to affirm Blacks humanity in inhumane situationF. Description and criticism of current environmentG. Contained African characteristics of:1. Call and Response2. Text Improvisation3. StorytellingH. Used language techniques of1. Figures of Speech2. Smile3. Metaphor4. Coded LanguageI. Focused on slavery experience and possibility of freedomJ. Retell stories of bible in everyday languageL. Black dialect1. Elision: the omission of a sound or syllable when speaking or singing2. Ending consonant sounds dropped3. “The” replaced by “de” or “da”, “this” by “dis”, ‘that” by “dat”II. ThemesA. Desire for freedomB. Desire for justice upon oppressorsC. Heaven, Hell, JudgmentD. “Wandering” phrases referring to 1. Wilderness2. Jericho3. Promised Land4. JerusalemE. Travel on rocky, stormy, rough roadF. Allusions to water1. Jordan River2. Banks of the river3. Ship of ZionG. Affirmation of life despite conditionsH. Identified with Biblical figures who overcame adversity (Moses, David, Joshua, Daniel)PAS 214 Notes: February 10, 2015I. Goal to overcome current situation, but not necessarily in this life (Faith, Optimism, Patience, Weariness, The Fight)J. Symbolic phrases that reflect desire for freedom1. “Goin’ to Heaven”2. “Comin’ for to carry me home”3. “I’m on my way to Canaan’s Land”III. Musical CharacteristicsA. Typically 4-line stanza alternating with 4-line chorus (refrain)B. Duple MeterC. Melodies freely sung against pulseD. Texture often heterophonicE. Overlapping call and response—leader begins next verse before end of refrainF. SyncopationG. Pentatonic ScaleH. Performed a cappellaI. Rhyme scheme not essentialIV. Compositional Techniques (3 ways)A. Improvisation on existing songB. Combination of material from several old songsC. New song with new materialV. Spiritual Types (3 kinds)A. Sorrow Song1. Slow Tempo2. Mournful Mood3. Emphasized burdens, troubles, deprivations of slavery—Examples1. Nobody Knows de Trouble I seen2. Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child3. Many Thousan’ GoneB. Jubilee1. Songs of Jubilation2. Celebrate heroic bible figures3. Reject Satan4. Celebrate wonderfulness of Jesus/ God5. Fast Tempos—Examples1. Go tell It on the Mountain2. Li’l David Play on Your Harp3. In That Great Getting Up Mornin’4. Wonderful Councilor5. All Roun’ de Glory MangerC. Cult Song1. Message songsa. Signal Songsb. Map SongsPAS 214 Notes: February 10, 20152. Meeting Songs3. Coded language used extensively4. Moderate tempo— Examples1. Steal Away to Jesus2. Follow the Drinking Gourd3. There’s a Meetin’ Here TonightVI. Coded LanguageA. Use of words, phrases in a coded manner to aid escaping slavesB. Examples1. Agent: Coordinator, one who plotted the course of escape and made contacts2. Drinking Gourd: Big Dipper and the North Star3. Freedom train or Gospel Train: Code name for the Underground Railroad4. Heaven or Promised Land: Canada5. Shepherds: People who escorted the slaves6. Station: Place of safety and temporary refuge (safe house)7. Station Master: The keeper of a safe house8. Stockholder: Donor of money, clothing, or foodC. Examples of Phrases1. “The wind blows from the south today”: the warning of slave bounty hunters nearby2. “A friend with friends”: A password used to signal the arrival of fugitives with an Underground Railroad conductor3. “The friend of a friend sent me”: a password used by fugitives traveling alone to indicate they were sent by the UR network 4. “Load of potatoes, parcel, or bundles of wood”: fugitives to


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