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Vernacular Music

Part of everyday life

Heterogeneous Sound Ideal

Complex interaction of contrasting musical elements

Call & Response

Statement by singer or instrumentalist followed by others

Guttural Effects

Screams, Moans, & Shouts

Lyric Improvization

Creating lyrics or melody spontaneously

Vocal Rythmization

Using vocal Sounds for rythmic purposes

Blue Notes

(b3, and b7) used within a diatonic system similar to the wester musical tradition


Male voice above usual range


Accenting weak beats rather than strong beats

Body Rythyms

Using the human body as a precussive instrument


African Drums


Precussion made from a material that has its own unique sound


African Wind Instruments


String Instruments


The name given to professional musicians in Africa

Congo Square

Gathering place in New Orleans where slaves went on Sundays to drum, dance

Patting Juba

Creating sounds on the human body

Banjo & Fiddle

Instruments used by slaves


Term given to slaves who were professional musicians

Field Holler

Song sung or chanted by workers in rythym to their work

Work Song

Call and respones songs sung by workers. Lead singer (forman) sang lyric to direct work.


Religious songs that offered slaves; Biblical stories as metaphors for liberation, Hope for a better life, helped preserve African cultural memories.

Isaac Watts

English composer whose hymns were popular with African Americans

Linning Out

Scottish custom of learning by rote

Camp Meetings

Large multi-day outdoor religious celebrations

Ring Shouts

Shuffling circular dance of chanting and hand clapping

Fisk Jubilee Singers

Helped popularize spirituals in the 19th century.

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