Negro Spirituals

The earliest form of religious music to develop among African Americans in the United States is known as the spiritual. A music born of slavery, this genre symbolized the slave population’s unique expression of Christian religious values and ideals tempered by the social, cultural, and physical experience of prolonged involuntary servitude.


The birthing of the spiritual symbolized a spirit of freedom—the underlying conscious will of slaves to express themselves in ways that reflected who they were as a people living far from home in a distant land.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS

Call-response 

Cultural memory 

Great awakening 

Invisible church

Double entendre

Polyrhythm

Concert spiritual

Heterophony 


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