Where it All Began
The power and impact of African American American music has been prevalent for generations. The thought that the power music such as negro spirituals and folk spirituals and negro spirituals stem from black peoples pain, is dis heartening. The African people who were brought to America via the Trans Atlantic Slave trade started it all.
When slaves were being stolen from their homes by white colonizers, one prominent way of coping with of their exploitation, their pain, the anguish, and dehumanizing nature of their situation, was none other than music.
Music became like a language, but this language has no rules, no boundaries, and could be practiced in various ways. One way in particular was the ritualistic practice that African slaves participated in, called Ring Shout.
History of the Ring Shout
Ring shout is a type of ritualistic practice because like any ritual, it was practiced regularly , to feel closer to God and their ancestors . it was by this occurrence that they felt their ancestors’ presence was upon them, that God was within them.
The word Shout itself is derived from the West African Islamic word Saut. Which means to dance around the Kaaba -Building in Mecca containing Islamic artifacts. Hence the Ring shout ritual being conducted by slaves gathering in circles and shuffling their feet, clapping their hands, and dancing in a counterclockwise motion.
Using different rhythms that ended up creating songs that they poured their heart and soul into. It not only incorporated dance, but also the use of drums, and singing, creating a well rounded practice that not only one type of African could participate in, but all kinds.
How to Ring Shout
- First people would assemble themselves in a circle, and those who were not within the circle would be in close proximity around them.
- A “caller”- A person who would indicate the ritual would begin to sing. Then someone who responded to the call would start to hit on a piece of wood with a stick or any object that could keep the beat going.
- Shouters then would start to dance in a counterclockwise circle.
- Every shouter would then create their own way of shouting which can be said was like how today we can create our own verse to a song on a track, in a collaboration with others.
- Then others would start beating drums, and using other instruments to create their own beat as well.