Free Essay


In: Film and Music

Submitted By hakyuni
Words 1224
Pages 5
Star&ng to Approach the Legacy of Slavery January 12, 2015

Turning to the arriving and musical thriving of African Americans

For the most part, • Arrived in America under different condi&ons than did many of their European counterparts • Also had a very different experience living in America

• Ques&on: What did African Americans do to make sense of their situa&on, to survive it, to resist their oppression, and to forge a new culture through music?

Spirituals • “Spiritual: Religious music of African Americans during slavery” (Burnim 2006: 51).

– What are called folk spirituals developed first (this is to dis&nguish from what are called arranged spirituals or concert spirituals)

• “Folk spiritual: The earliest form of indigenous a cappella religious music created by African Americans during slavery” (Burnim 2006: 52).

– Late 18th century crea&on (ibid)

– Created by and for black people – Prominent from late 18th century through Civil War era

(U.S. Civil War, 1861-­‐1865)

Ring Shout • “A form of folk spiritual which incorporates highly stylized religious

dance as par&cipants

move in a

counterclockwise circle”

(Burnim 2006: 55).

– Also called a “shout” – Earliest on record dates from 1845, though prac&ce predates that record (Floyd, Jr. 2002: 50)

Photo from c. 1930

• Have evidence of ring shouts performed in the South and in the North • Emerged as a form of


worship or ritual

strongly influenced by African approaches

• But also became

something African American

Photo from c. 1930

In the words of former slave Silvia King, interviewed in the 1930s: “Black folks 'ud git off, down in de crick bobom, er in a thicket, an' sing an' shout an' pray. Don't know why but de w'ite folks sho' didn't like dem ring shouts de cullud folks had. De folks git in er ring an' sing an' dance, an' shout; de dance is jes' kinder shuffle, den hit gits faster an' faster as dey gits wa'amed up; an' dey moans an' shouts, an' sings, an' dance. Some ob 'em gits 'zausted an' dey drop out, an' de ring gits closer. Some&mes dey sing an' shout all night, but at der brake ob day, de nigger gober git ter de cabin an' git 'bout he buiziness fer de day. De w'ite folks say de ring shout make de nigger loose he haid an' dat he git all 'cited up an' be good fer nuffin' fer a week.’”

(Quoted in Zita Allen, “From Slave Ships to Center Stage” [2001], hbp://, accessed 6/25/2014)

YouTube video

• “Darien Gullah-­‐Geechee Shouters” – hbp:// – Example of a ring shout by a contemporary group

“Run, Old Jeremiah” (E-­‐reserves Unit 3)

• Let’s listen for conceptual approaches that characterize African and African American music, as outlined by Olly Wilson (1992) – These conceptual approaches are predilec&ons, tendencies – Evidence of cultural survival in an American context

African and African American conceptual approach: • Call and response – Song form – Also a performance prac&ce

“in which a singer or instrumentalist makes a musical statement which is answered by another soloist, instrumentalist or group. The statement and answer some&mes overlap” (Burnim 2006: 54).

Call and Response in “Run, Old Jeremiah” (Note: I’ve taken most the words of the calls from the liner notes of this recording; you may no&ce some differences in what the singers sing; also the responses are not completely clear to me.) Call: By myself.

Response: Good Lord! (?) Call: By myself.

Response: Good Lord! Call: By myself.

Response: Good Lord! Call: By myself.

Response: Good Lord! Call: By myself.

Response: Good Lord!

Call: You know I’ve got to go. Call: You got to run.

Call: I’ve got to run.

Call: You got to run.

Response: Good Lord! Response: Good Lord! Response: Good Lord! Response: Good Lord!

More African and African American Conceptual Approaches to Making Music: • Heterogeneous sound ideal – contras&ng &mbres • Tendency to fill up musical space— “high density of musical events” (Wilson 1992: 328)

“Run, Old Jeremiah” (Text for calls only; are responses axer each call) By myself. (5x) You know I’ve got to go. You got to run. I’ve got to run. You got to run (2x). By myself. (3x) I got a leber. (2x) Ol’ brownskin. Tell you what she say. “Leavin’ tomorrow Tell you goodbye.”

O my Lordy. (6x)

Well, well, well. (2x) O my Lord. (2x) O my Lordy. (2x) Well, well, well. (2x) I’ve got a rock. You got a rock. Rock is death. O my Lordy. O my Lord. Well, well, well. Run here, Jeremiah. (2x) I must go On my way. (4x) Who’s that ridin’ the chariot? (2x) Well, well, well…

[New Leader – just the calls are wriben here] One mornin’ Before the evening Sun was goin’ down (3x) Behind them western hills. (3x) Old number 12 Comin’ down the track. (3x) See that black smoke. See that old engineer. See that engineer. (2x) Tol’ that old fireman Ring his ol’ bell With his hand. Rung his engine bell. (2x) Well, well, well (2x)

Jesus tell the man, Say, I got your life In My Hand; I got your life In My Hand. (2x) Well, well, well. Ol’ fireman told, Told that engineer, Ring your black bell, Ding, ding, ding, Ding, ding, ding, ding. Ol’ fireman say -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐?-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐ -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐?-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐ -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐?-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐

That mornin’ Well, well, well. (2x) Ol’ fireman say, Well, well, I’m gonna grab my Old whistle too Wah, wah, wah Wah wah wah wah, ho, Wah, wah, ho Wah, wah, wah, ho. (etc.) Mmmmmmmm Soon, soon, soon Wah-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐o.

Well, well, well, Ol’ engineer, I’ve got your life In my hands. (2x) Tol’ your father, (2x) Well, well, well, I was travellin’, (2x) I was ridin’ (3x) Over there. (2x) Ol’ engineer. This is the chariot. (2x) (con&nues on)

“Sign of the Judgement” (E-­‐reserves Unit 3) • Ring shout • African and African American conceptual approaches to music, including: – Body mo&on as an

integral part of music


(Wilson 1992: 329)

– Polyrhythm

– Polyrhythm – “More than one rhythmic pabern played simultaneously” (Burnim and Maultsby 2006: 647) – Wilson emphasizes

idea of



(1992: 328)

“Sign of the Judgement” Caller: Response 1: Caller: Response 2: Caller:

Response 3:

I see the sign Yeah (Hey!) I see the sign Yeah (Hey!) I see the sign… Yeah! (Hey!) Lord, &me’s drawing


(other lines) This sign of the judgement [?] in the fig tree (?) Loose horse in the valley… Tell me who gonna ride him… King Jesus gonna ride him… Sinner come out the corner… Tell me whatcha gonna do Well you run sinner… Sinner run to the rock…

? Rock cried out… No hiding place… It’s Judgement Day… Two tall angels… On the chariot wheel… They talking ‘bout the judgement… Look over yonder… Dark clouds rising… The sun won’t shine… That’s the sign of the judgement…

YouTube Video • McIntosh County Shouters CNN video hbp:// watch? v=aBd1Xwq8Xx4&featu re=related

To recap so far… • By studying ring shouts, we have heard several conceptual approaches characteris&c of African and African American music: – Call and response – Heterogeneous sound ideal (use of a variety of &mbres) – High density of musical events – Use of the body – Polyrhythm (rhythmic contrast/clash)

• Strategies of surviving and musically thriving, of forging a dis&nc&ve African American culture

Similar Documents