The Truths Behind Obsolescent White Spirituals

George Pullen Jackson

White Spiritual Music

George Pullen Jackson was the ultimate pioneer of white spiritual music, specifically Southern hymnody music. His work created in 1933, White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands, discusses a multitude of comparisons between white and Negro spiritual music. White spirituals consist of four-shape notation/fasola instead of the dorayme system. Jackson’s stance had predominantly stated that Negro spirituals solely derived from white Protestant music.

The fasola system in music was mainly implemented in European music during the 17th and 18th century with the four note notation: fa, sol, la, mi. This unique and peculiar notation is a main indicator of White spiritual music. The Hymn “Amazing Grace” by John Newton is evident of this particular note singing. Sacred Harp, which consists of four-part hymns. is also a genre of music that honors Jackson for his contribution to the field of white, religious music. Although Jackson has published years of research on the origin of Negro spirituals from White spiritual music, white spirituals lack the spiritual portion of real spiritual music. Langston Hughes argued that Negro spirituals are the only true spirituals that exist in music: “The spiritual may easily become the mark of the stereotype – the ever singing Negro.” It is quite evident that white spirituals lack the power and emotion that is evoked during Negro spirituals.

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