African American Quartets

Origin~ Negro Spirituals. The earliest form of religious music from African Americans.  The nascency of the music from slavery.

Quartets originated in the mid-1800s from African American University signing movement.

Characteristics~  These groups are generally are made of 4- 6 men singing a four part harmony.

Tenor- the highest part that harmonizes above the melody. Falsetto

Baritone- sings above and below the lead

Bass- the lowest harmonizing , rich and mellow sound

lead-  sing the main part, strong voice. dignified

In an European quartet is determined by the size of the group. African American quartets are determined by the size of designated harmony parts.

Social Implications & Commodifications & Influences~ With the popularity of African American quartet, came stimulation and enlightenment on the community . It showed the talent of African Americans around the country. Many quartets got the chance to recored with companies and eventually broadcasted on the radio. Unfortunately, the colonizers used some quartets for propaganda and ridicule. Coon songs were invented by white people it “presented a stereotyped view of African Americans, performed by white singers with blackface.” Quartets influenced Gospel, Rhythm and Blues.

Periods~ Jubilee Period emerged after the American Civil War. Started with HBCU quartets.  ” Fisk University jubilee quartet”

Transitional Period arise during the great migration in which a mass amount of African Americans migrated from the south to the north for economic emprovement. Many quartets became secular.

Important Performers~

Golden Gate Quartet

Mills Brothers

New Orleans Humming Four

My thoughts~ The quartet/ragtime era gave the chance for African American to show the world our talents and abilities. It also gave the community a economic boost.  The originality of African American quartets sparked the flame to many other music groups.

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