Style Sheets

Black Music in the Historical Past

  1. Ad hoc instruments (i.e., jugs, spoons, washboards, etc.)
  2. Homemade instruments
  3. Instruments which produced percussive sounds
  4. A lack of drums and drumming, which were strictly prohibited by slaveholders
  5. A significant deficiency in instrumental music due to social, economic, political, and geographic conditions of the time
Forms/Song Types
  1. Antiphonal song form (call and response)
  2. Spiritual
  3. Work song
  4. Field holler
  5. Street cry
  6. Song of allusion
  7. Ring shout
  8. Song sermon
  9. Sorrow song
  1. Use of the blue notes (flatted 3rd and flatted 7th)
  2. Flexibility of pitch
  3. Use of the diatonic and pentatonic scales
Vocal Style/Ornamentation
  1. Open, resonant voice quality
  2. Wide variety of tone quality
  3. Common types of ornamentation
    1. rising attack
    2. falling release
    3. glissando
    4. rhythmic grunting
    5. bends
    6. dips
    7. shouting/singing
    8. upward break
  4. Percussive quality in sound
  1. Primacy of rhythm, despite forced acculturation to Western practices
  2. Hand clapping, stomping, etc., provide rhythmic impetus in lieu of instruments, particularly drums
  3. The music is somewhat less rhythmically complex than African music, but considerably more rhythmically complex than Western music
  1. Heterophony
  2. Improvisation

home overview lesson plans jazz resources what's new jazz in america