The Beginning of Negro Spirituals + Added Rhythm – Jubilee Quartets
Created by: Sydnei Young
Origin & Characteristics
Quartets are accredited as a musical genre created by the outgrowth of the African American college singing movement in the mid 1800s. Quartets were sung by African American males or females in a four part a cappela group. Typically, there are three voices harmonizing to the melody of the fourth voice. In all-male groups the voice parts are tenor, lead (second) tenor, baritone, and bass. The lead normally sings the melody and the tenor harmonizes above. The characteristics of this genre had a unique style with its African American and Western elements, melisma, and blue’s notes that voiced the values and aesthetics of the African American community. Most would believe the sound of the negro spiritual with an added beat developed into the creation of the “quartet”.
Influence of Future Genres & Commodification
Quartets have had influence on future generations music. African American were now able to earn and gain more money to support them and their families with their singing talents. Many quartets were used on radio advertisements and some used as a tool for politics. Quartets influenced both the Blues and Gospel music.
Important Performers & Social Implifcations
Of course, African American’s sung in quartets. In the mid 1800s, the Golden Gate Quartet pioneered the gospel/pop quartet. The four brothers were innovative in their approach to sacred hymns “jubilee” singing. In the clip below they are performing the song “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”.
Jubilee Quartets brought about cakewalks and minstrel shows. Cakewalks are shows slaves performed for the slave master’s dressed in formal attire and the winner would receive a cake. Minstrel Shows are shows caucasian people performed in Black face as if they were African American’s.
Experiencing the musical harmony of quartets is very powerful to me. Quartets began a new era of music.