Black Music: Where It All Began

By Skkyler Ofoedu & Niara Keyes

Have you ever thought about how Black music came to be? How about where we found our sound or even how genres, such as Blues and Jazz, were established? Let me break it down for you, our people were stolen from Africa, brought to an unknown land, forced into a new culture and turned into permanent laborers, or if we’re being blunt here, slaves. These slaves needed a way to preserve their culture, therefore, the genre of Negro Spirituals was born

As they began to adjust to their surroundings, there were only so many ways to stay connected to their roots. Song and dance played a major part in the efforts of slaves to hold on to the little culture they had left. One specific form of dance called “Ringshout” was one used often among the slaves. A Ringshout is an ecstatic, transcendent religious ritual in which worshipers move in a circle while shuffling and stomping their feet and clapping their hands. Ringshout was used a form of praise by the slaves to express their gratitude for their God. A few other characteristics or types of music commonly found in Negro Spirituals are, Call and Response, Group Singing, Work Songs, and particular instruments such as drums, banjos and using their bodies as instruments as well.

Not only did the slaves use song and dance to preserve their culture, they also needed a way to pass the time while working or doing other daily activities. Slaves would sing while working the fields to get their minds off their unfortunate predicaments or even make it a little easier to deal with their realities. Sometimes, certain hymns were even used as code to plan escapes discreetly. All in all, the songs used to ease the hard times of our ancestors have translated through generations of great music and created the foundation for the sounds of Black music today. [embedyt][/embedyt]

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