Genre Review

My reading of choice was “Folk Music: Songs of the Struggle” by Jasmine Jenkins. In her article, Jenkins successfully begun her text with a strong statement when she stated that most of the struggles of the enslaved black person could be traced back to the stories they told in the early folk songs. It is important to make note of Jenkins’ connection to identity, or lack thereof, when exploring important composers from the genre. This highlighted fact is vital to the story of enslaved people; it touches on how their identity was stripped from them,giving them a reason to sing in the first place. Jenkins’ article was beautifully written but I would have liked to see more emphasis on how the use of folk song influenced the daily lives of the enslaved people whether it be negative or positive – embracive or punishable. I did however really enjoy the connection made between folk songs and the modern day songs they’ve influenced. This connection allowed me to put a sound to the influence Folk music has on modern day music and gain a deeper appreciation for the sound and its history.

The article was very brief in content and thus resulting in a vague understanding of the genre. Although I feel I understand the basic idea of the concept, the author failed to keep me engaged in her text or interested in learning more. I was disappointed with the length, being that Folk was the genre in which all other genres derived from so I would have liked to see greater detail on the delivery of song, the consequences of performance, or the response of their masters. Overall Ms.Jenkins organized the assignment well and was clear on her topic. My only area of feedback would be detail in content.

"Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty ."

- alan Blyth

Marian ANderson

American Singer

I honestly could not stop reading this well-written article by Alisha Jones titled “Lift Every Voice..”. Jones captivated my attention with her so very overlooked, but very necessary, claim in thesis when she states that black women have forced their voices to be heard through the “politics of concert performances”. I am included in the naitive population that does not often consider the platform of these black female musicians or the influences that they have over the community by using it. I use the term community in a multivariable context, describing both the individuals who make up the groups of oppressed women and African Americans. Jones highlights this intersectionality when she touches on the background of black musicians and their treatment in a Eurocentric music industry. She gives the example of Marian Anderson being denied concert space at the Lincoln Memorial to raise attention to the fact that organizations and institutions such as the NAACP, NANM, black churches, Howard University, black women’s groups, etc, unified to make it possible for Anderson to perform before an audience of more than 75,000 people. I agree with Jones’ proposal to increase the attention we give to black female musicians because it is through these songs that they express the oppression and suffrage that has kept them silenced for too long. It is with continuous attention that these musicians get closer to equality; that their talent is seen instead of their race. It was Anderon’s tribute to Florence Price at the end of the concert’s program that highlighted the meaning of sisterhood and  made grateful to be at an institution the thrives off of this exact principle.Not only are your sisters beneficial for growth but they are vital to survival when the rest of the world is already against us. If I took nothing else from this article, I took away the need for strength in the black community but an even greater strength in sisterhood. 

Negro Spirtuals


Black churches for many years have served as a place for inspiration for the black community, rooting back to the years of slavery when our ancestors used the same space to call on the Lord for the conclusion of their suffering and the rise of their freedom. Negro Spirtuals is a form of Folk music but differs from Folk song because of its roots in Christanity. Christianity is a religion that slaves adopted from their masters but created a meaning for in relation to their circumstances; It was a way in which they gave themselves hope and strength to endure the treatment of their time. As Dr.Charles Lincoln said it, the enslaved group “… accepted the white man’s religion, but they haven’t always practiced it in the white man’s way” 


Negro Spirtuals is presented in many different forms but takes dominance through the emlement of call and response. The call and response element is one that consists of a leader calling out a line and the audience responding with the same lyric line. Other elements of the genre include moaning, ring shouts, and secret messages. Moaning was not an element of pain or suffering but instead can be compared similarly to humming and melodies. Ring shouts is an element that consisted of certain slaves singing while others danced, stomped, and clapped in a circle. The tempo of ring shouts usually start off slow but would increase as the activity continued. Most importantly, the negro spirtuals were used to relay secret messages between slaves. Songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Wade in the Water” were songs that relayed instructions from Harriet Tubman and other slave leaders, to other enslaved individuals instructioning them to the pathways that lead to the underground railroad. It is important to note that although slaves were allowed in white church spaces, they were not allowed to sing or dance. Thus, resulted in slaves creating a space of their own for worship to fully express themselves through song or dance as a way to praise the Lord and call on him for faith of their futures. 


 Notable composers include Robert Nathaniel Dett, Hall Johnson, and Moses Hogan. 

Robert Nathaniel is most remembered for his work style that incorporated origins of the negro spirtuals. Some of his work included “After the Cakewalk” composed in 1900 and “The Dett Collection of Negro Spirtuals” arranged in 1936. Hall Johnson is recognized amongst Harry T Burleigh and Robert Nathaniel Dett as an composer who helped to evelevate negro spirtuals to an art and introgate it into its Europen Classical counterparts. Negro spirtuals were most often collected amd published in the book of U.S. Slave songs. After the Civil War, many African Americans formed groups, or choirs, and performed spirituals in concert. All and all, Negro spirtuals can today still be reconginized for its huge role on the development of Gospel music. Gospel is a common genre amongst the black community that serves a similar role as negro spirtuals did for slaves in the past. The genre reminds one to stay hopeful and faithful in the mist of personal obstacles and to always call on the Lord for guidance and strength through the rough days. 

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jubilee quartets

by Nylah Moore

jubilee -
(1880 - 1929 )





During this era 4 members made a group and originated with 4 men from Fisk University who traveled and performed slave negro spiritual to raise money for their school. Many HBCU's followed in their footsteps. Each group consisted of two tenors, a baritone, and a base.The original group founded was by George L. White in 1871 and its orginal members included Alfred G. King (first bass), James Myers (second tenor), Noah W. Ryder (second bass), and John W. Work II (first tenor. The sound of this era was recognized for its close harmonies, formal arrangements and "flatfooted" style of singing. Improve was strongly discouraged to maintain the uniform of the group.


early minstrels reflected White racial imagination of African-Americans and initially restricted them from performing in White shows,African-Americans responded by forming minstrel quartets of their own.


During this time jubilee transitioned into a more gospel style performance which included more freedom in improve for soloist.Sometime there were multiple soloist in one song unlike jubilee performances. In 1934 Golden Gate Quartets were formed an infused their performances of spirituals with the rhythmic beat of blues and jazz. They were known for their church and radio performances. Gradually the sound began to include gospel standards written by Thomas A. Dorsey and others. It is claimed that beats from songs in this time period largely influenced those of R&B.


This mostly consisted of males who had no formal training in western classical music, and it consisted of first and second tenor, baritone, and bass.


Singing groups became larger and more instruments were added such as electric and acoustic guitar, drum, bass. Solo artists also had the freedom to improvise in song. The Dixie Hummingbirds and the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama (formally known as the Happyland Jubilee Singers) were groups that exampled the transition from Jubilee to Gospel.


This was sometimes referred to as white spiritual and white gospel singing, African-Americans adapted the genre,and it was drawn from standard hymns, gospel hymns, spirituals, and other secular music.


This singing movement emerged after American Civil War and also the educational establishment of newly freed slaves.


Several African American sacred and secular quartets were established in neighborhood barbershops and tradition was first observed among African-Americans in the 1880s.

Blues is

No specific person invented blues but many claim to have discovered the genre. Most commonly known is minstrel leader WC Handy, who claim he discovered the sound in 1903 at a train station in Mississippi. The original sound died with many slaves but can still be heard in many early 20th century recordings of Southern states.Many early blues musicians infused blues from traditional folk songs, vaudeville music, and minstrel tunes to create blues as we know it. Songs are made up of 12 bars and each individual section is referred to as blues notes.

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Reaching popularity in 1895 and peaking until around 1919, ragtime originated in black communities like St. Louis and were derived from the “jigs” and march music played by black bands. This music style is often referred to as “jig piano” or “piano thumping”. Many consider ragtime to an infusion of African syncopation and European classical musi

Social Implications

Being the first black music genre to have an impact on mainstream popular culture, ragtime could be heard by piano “professors” who played it in “sporting houses” in New Orleans.Rhythms of Ragtime changed the world of band dances and birthed new steps along the way


Known for it character trait in syncopation or “ragged rhythm”, ragtime had many elements including cake walk, two steps, slow drag and many others



Influenced by jazz, jazz bands began to include ragtime in their repertoire in the 1940’s and even produced ragtime recordings on 78 rpm records.Ragtime is claimed to have influenced classical composers such as Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, and Igor Stravinsky


Composer included those such as Ben Harney -who wrote and composed “You’ve been a Good Old Wagon But You Done broke Down”, which famously helped shape the sound of the genre.Ernest Hogan who composed “La Pas Ma La” and
Scott Joplin who is famous for his song “Maple Leaf Rag”(1899) and “The Entertainer” (1902). Joplin i often recognized as the “King of Ragtime” for is ragtime compositions.Some people claim Joplin’s work to be the American version of that of Mozart.Joseph Lamb (only non-black composer included in the three) and James Scott (a pianist) are also recognized for have large influence on the creation of ragtime (AKA the “Big Three)

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