European Influence On The Black Sound

Similar to many aspects of modern culture a society, music has been formed with a sprinkle of multiple different cultures and types to form unique styles. One can find European singing styles in the singing of Jubilee Quartets.

Where Did Harmonizing Come From?

Harmony has been an aspect of Western European musical tradition since the times of Ancient Greece. Overtime, harmony became an important aspect of singing in church, by the 9th century, to bring emphasis and fill the large, open interiors of the church. Harmony continued to evolve through Western Europe, evolved to be more complex through the addition of multiple octaves, and focus on tonality (as a few examples).

Harmony In A Jubilee Quartet

African Americans took the European harmony style from they were exposed to at church, and were able to create a capella performance. Jubilee Quartets consisted of four to six members initially singing traditional spiritual arrangements in four-part harmony. African American Jubilee Quartets did not allow European musical influences to define their practice but recreated harmony even in their own tone. This can be noted during the transitional period of jubilee quartets. During this period, quartets were beginning to add an additional member to the group, a guitar, increase the use of bass and solo performances. 


Rich, Alan. “Harmony”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 9 May. 2019, Accessed 4 March 2021.

Bernim, Mellonee V., and Maultsby, Portia K. African American Music. 2nd ed., Routledge. 2015

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