Mudcat Café message #556399 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #9612   Message #556399
Posted By: wysiwyg
22-Sep-01 - 12:13 AM
Thread Name: Origins: AMEN (Jester Hairston)
Subject: RE: AMEN

It is possible that what Hairston copyrighted was his ARRANGEMENT of the material-- this is done all the time with traditonal/public domain music. Or, if he varied the melody any, or added words, it might have been shown as "music by" or "words by" him.

On the other hand, there is also a body of music we have yet to define that comes from the tradition of the spirituals, but which was either composed or arose spontaneously later in time, well after slave times. There are some people still writing them today-- both as deliberate compositions or as transcriptions of spontaneous creations.

An ongoing discussion of the history of spirituals in general goes on in the thread "History of Spirituals," but I think that for each specific song the best place to work out its history is in threads exactly like this, where the song and discussion about it can appear. So I hope people will review the general history discussions and add to that, but also add to the knowledge about each song, as in this thread.

Genie, you could make a big contribution in this whole subject by spending some time sifting through search results on Hairston, using Google or some other search engine. Although others are looking at other aspects of the spirituals, no one (at Mudcat) is really looking yet at contemporary applications separate from "black gospel." And I think there may be an important distinction there, between "contemporary spirituals" and "black gospel."

So, if you learn anything about this piece, would you post it here? And if Hairston's contributions are relevant to spirituals' history in general, would you add them to the History thread?