When the real interest begins to happen in spirituals, there is an effort to transcribe them. Can you transcribe the music? What are these audiences hearing? |
Boyer : I keep going back to "Slave Songs of the United States", because thats such an important document. It was the first collection, and as was the trend, theres a wonderful introduction at the beginning of this book, and the authors set out to explain whats happening. And they talk about the difficulty they had in writing this music down.
Number 1: The scales that the singers used were unlike anything they had ever heard in the United States. We now call them blue notes, or the blues scale, adding flatted tones. Instead of singing, ""Oh my Lord,"" theyd sing, ""Oh my Lord." " "La la la, dee da da, dee dee dee." And .. if you dont know that that is the correct way that its supposed to be done, youll say, "Well, they didnt really mean that; they meant the other way." And that was actually a little bit of correcting. And it was not correcting the music. It was almost correcting the culture, because it was within the culture.
At the same time, they said that they dont sing harmony as we know it, and yet no two people are singing the same thing, because the slaves were either not impressed with the harmony that they heard in the church services, or they disregarded it and went back to a kind of harmony not like that which we hear in the Bach or the Mendelssohn that we hear, but inin a kind of a folk adaptation of a culture thats not been impressed by European music at all.
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