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Negro Spirituals express the heartbreaking emotions of the Slave. Due to its characteristic slow, deepening tone established primarily by voice, or in some later cases the accompaniment of piano, the Negro Spiritual demonstrates the worries, pain, and longing that Slaves experienced under harsh treatment. In these Negro Spirituals, the spiritual being that the Slaves praise is the Christian God. This is particularly important due to this religion forcibly pushed upon those of African descent, who had no prior experience in lifting praise to the Christian God. Unlike, the traditional hymns of early European Christianity, the Negro Spiritual genre was soul-like. This sharp contrast created a difference in the development of Christian music for the slave.

 

Further development of the Negro Spiritual genre was through the Black church. After attending the services of white Christians, there was a later service held for the Black church. This inspired the act of arranging a composition of song. Praise in the Black church is distinguished by clapping, shouting, polyrhythmic sounds, and the call and response technique. These are actions that are still relevant.  Another development of the Negro Spiritual song was its concert style. A vocalist along with a choir and instrument performed before an audience. However, there still remained the soulful nature of the song regardless of the arrangement.

 

Later, there was the creation of the Jubilee quartets. Although the nature of the Negro Spiritual song was sacred, the addition of multiple vocalists and performance-like elements created a strong difference from the original Negro Spiritual style. Contemporary Black gospel is influenced by this trend. For instance, artist Kanye West arranges Gospel songs in his own rendition of popular R&B and hip-hop rhythms. 

 

Negro Spirituals were and continue to be a great influence in the Black community. They serve their purpose in detailing the hardships of the Black experience. Negro Spirituals have evolved as time has passed, but it stands true that the intended purpose and soulful nature of the music style transcends beyond its time.

 

 

Negro Spiritual

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Jamil Dawson

Jamil Dawson

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