Sample Music Paper on THE INFLUENCE OF GOSPEL MUSIC IN ALL GENRES OF MUSIC

THE INFLUENCE OF GOSPEL MUSIC IN ALL GENRES OF MUSIC

 

Definition of gospel music and its origin

Music is the art of organizing sounds in time by incorporating aspects of harmony, melody, rhythm, and timbre. Music has always played an important role in religious celebrations. The term gospel means good news. Gospel music consists of hymns, sacred songs, and other spiritual songs adapted from African-American oral traditions. This type of music was founded in the United States during the age of slavery, where slaves, mostly of African descent sang traditional hymns and spiritual songs about their harsh experiences in captivity.  They sang as a way of expressing their oppression and belief that one day they will be emancipated from slavery. The kind of songs they sang during slavery gave birth to religious songs referred to as spirituals. Strong religious faith was one of the most effective pillars that helped sustain African Americans through the adversity and hardships of slavery. As time went on, some of the musical heritage and culture that they had brought over, mainly from West African states, was lost in the shuffle. This led them to develop new songs which incorporated some features of African vocals and rhythm that were based on Christian topics. They used music to establish a sense of ethnic and cultural identity for themselves in their new surroundings.

Gospel music has fundamental elements such as a call-and-response dynamic and intricate beats. A call-and-response dynamic refers to a musical exchange in which the first, usually solo, phrase is responded to by a second direct commentary or ensemble phrase. Moreover, the music is rhythmically distinguished by syncopation, a driving beat, and divisions and subdivisions of the beat as well as multiple variations of these divisions (Boyer, 34). Today, gospel music is an essential component of Christian worship and can be classified into four styles, namely quartet gospel, praise and worship gospel, traditional gospel, and contemporary gospel. In the early 19th century, most Gospel songs were spread through Sunday school hymnbooks and church choirs. Most of the bands and musicians that rose to prominence during that period started out performing gospel music in church choirs before moving on to contemporary music where they incorporated some of the features of gospel music into their music. Such artists include Aretha Franklin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Mahalia Jackson. This paper explains the influence gospel music has had on other music genres such as soul, rhythm and blues (RnB), and rock and roll.

The influence of Gospel music on other music genres

Gospel music has played a vital role in shaping, contributing to, and influencing the development of almost all music worldwide (Rucker-Hillsman, 14). Over the years, gospel music has evolved to suit diverse musical tastes through the emergence of several sub-genres while maintaining its moral and spiritual foundation, which is mainly based on the struggles of slavery and the power of Christian worship. Music genres such as Soul, Blues, and Rock and Roll have all been influenced by gospel music and even incorporate some features of gospel music into their sound.

Rhythm and Blues

Rhythm and blues (RnB) is a music genre that was made popular by African American artists. The genre originated in the American South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It features notes that fall between the intervals of the scale, and micro-tones that flattened the pitch of conventional music, creating powerful tensions and resolutions. Gospel and blues, the popular religious and secular music of Black Americans are intertwined with grief, loss, and despair as well as hope, redemption, resiliency, and optimism. The tone and melodic forms of these music genres have inspired a significant amount of American music that has developed after them while remaining recognizable throughout the years. Early rhythm and blues often featured sounds from musical instruments such as pianos, saxophones, and trombones, some of which were used to create gospel music beats. Moreover, rhythm and blues are characterized by simple, repetitive chord progressions and often melancholy lyrics that bear similarities to gospel music.

The Blues genre and gospel music share some similarities in that they are both deeply rooted in the experiences of African-Americans. Both music genres present a unique perspective of the social struggles black people faced and continue to face in America. Moreover, some of the blues genre artists such as Leo Welch and Denise LaSalle were influenced by gospel musicians of their time before branching out into blues. Borrowing some of its structure and rhythm from gospel, the blues genre encourages improvisation and the shaping and swelling of notes and sentences. This improvisation was made possible by the genre’s slow tempo, incorporated from gospel music, which improved the genre’s capacity to convey its message thereby enabling musicians to creatively express themselves in deeply personal subject matters such as love and heartbreak.

Soul

There are several notable influences gospel music had on soul music. Soul music is a prominent musical style pioneered by African American artists that gained popularity during the 1950s. During this period, musicians such as Ray Charles and James Brown blended the slow-tempo ballads of traditional gospel music with rhythm and blues to create the earliest soul songs. Moreover, the renowned songstress Aretha Franklin, one of the pioneers of soul music, was influenced by gospel music. Since her father was a preacher, she spent some of her time listening to and singing gospel music in the church choir where her father preached. Through this, she learned the features of gospel music which she later incorporated when she branched out into soul music. The gospel background and influences enabled her to offer rousing, heartfelt, joyful music with a drive and passion that is notable in gospel music.

Both gospel and soul music genres convey African American awareness on a variety of issues, and they are both born from and respond to the experience of black people in America. What is more, soul music inherited the raw emotion that is conveyed in gospel music into its sound. Those emotions are expressed through impromptu moaning and shouting, hand claps, and other unplanned bodily movements. Also, musical instruments such as a tambourine, piano, or Hammond organ are as vital as the singer’s or band’s voice in soul music and were incorporated into soul music to accentuate the gospel-like ambiance.

Rock and Roll

Rock’n’roll music is a fusion of several different music genres such as gospel music, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Initially associated with youthful rebellion and transgression, Rock and roll are recognized for its dynamic performances, captivating tunes, piano riffs, and frequently thought-provoking lyrics. The gospel music of the early 20th century had a profound influence on the development and progression of rock and roll. It acted as a source of inspiration whilst providing a template for many of the early rock and roll songs.

Rock and roll music rose to prominence during the late 1940s and early 1950s, with black and white Americans being the main audience. Gospel music served as a formative influence on some of the early rock and roll artists, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Additionally, some elements which are present in gospel music like the use of call and response, clapping and foot stomping as a form of percussion, and emotionally charged lyrics were all present in early rock and roll songs. These elements helped to create the unique sound of rock and roll music.

Conclusion

Gospel music consists of hymns, sacred songs, and other spiritual songs adapted from African-American oral traditions. It was founded in the United States during the age of slavery, where slaves, mostly of African descent sang traditional hymns and spiritual songs about their harsh experiences in captivity and hope for emancipation. The role of gospel music in American music has been relevant for more than a century, and its relevance to society remains to this day. Music genres such as Soul, Blues, and Rock and Roll have all been influenced by gospel music and even incorporate some features of gospel music into their sound. Moreover, many artists began their musical careers performing gospel music in churches before transitioning to secular music.

 

 

 

CITATIONS

Rucker-Hillsman, Joan. Gospel Music: An African American Art Form. FriesenPress, 2014.

Kallen, Stuart A. The History of R & B and Soul Music. Greenhaven Publishing LLC, 2013.

Boyer, Horace Clarence. “Gospel music.” Music Educators Journal 64.9 (1978): 34-43.