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The Singing of Spirituals

The Singing of Spirituals Benjamin Brawley No phase of the interest in the literature and art of the Negro within the last two decades has been more marked than the place universally accorded the so-called spiritual. As early as the Civil War, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson and others, the peculiar quality of this contribution of the Negro to music was recognized. Within recent years, however, the attention given the melodies has assumed the proportions of a cult. Composers have transcribed them; there have been at least a few serious studies; and the vogue has even assisted the nascent drama. Those who like the primitive have been satisfied; at the same time there has been a challenge to the conscious artist. In the face of such acceptance and acclaim it might seem strange that any one should raise a question. Yet some things that have happened even within the last few months have more than once made me pause, and wonder. There comes back to me a night of more than usual interest. The occasion was a notable one, and the large audience intelligent and critical. The music for the evening was to be furnished by young men from one of the smaller of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

The Singing of Spirituals

Black Sacred Music , Volume 1 (2) – Sep 1, 1987

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Copyright
© Copyright 1987 JBSM/Jon Michael Spencer
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-1.2.29
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Benjamin Brawley No phase of the interest in the literature and art of the Negro within the last two decades has been more marked than the place universally accorded the so-called spiritual. As early as the Civil War, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson and others, the peculiar quality of this contribution of the Negro to music was recognized. Within recent years, however, the attention given the melodies has assumed the proportions of a cult. Composers have transcribed them; there have been at least a few serious studies; and the vogue has even assisted the nascent drama. Those who like the primitive have been satisfied; at the same time there has been a challenge to the conscious artist. In the face of such acceptance and acclaim it might seem strange that any one should raise a question. Yet some things that have happened even within the last few months have more than once made me pause, and wonder. There comes back to me a night of more than usual interest. The occasion was a notable one, and the large audience intelligent and critical. The music for the evening was to be furnished by young men from one of the smaller of

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 1987

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