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Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar

The Shambles 21 Mar 05 - 03:07 AM
mad2 21 Mar 05 - 03:24 AM
Flash Company 21 Mar 05 - 05:09 AM
greg stephens 21 Mar 05 - 05:37 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 21 Mar 05 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Michael Morris at work. 21 Mar 05 - 01:40 PM
PoppaGator 21 Mar 05 - 02:09 PM
The Shambles 21 Mar 05 - 02:26 PM
The Shambles 21 Mar 05 - 02:29 PM
The Shambles 21 Mar 05 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,JTT 21 Mar 05 - 03:29 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 21 Mar 05 - 04:12 PM
The Shambles 21 Mar 05 - 04:21 PM
Ebbie 21 Mar 05 - 07:29 PM
Azizi 21 Mar 05 - 08:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Mar 05 - 09:29 PM
GUEST 21 Mar 05 - 09:32 PM
The Shambles 22 Mar 05 - 02:01 AM
Big Tim 22 Mar 05 - 02:39 AM
greg stephens 22 Mar 05 - 03:26 AM
JulieF 22 Mar 05 - 04:34 AM
RobbieWilson 22 Mar 05 - 04:52 AM
GUEST 22 Mar 05 - 05:22 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 22 Mar 05 - 05:41 AM
Azizi 22 Mar 05 - 07:53 AM
GUEST 22 Mar 05 - 08:32 AM
Azizi 22 Mar 05 - 09:15 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 22 Mar 05 - 09:47 AM
Azizi 22 Mar 05 - 09:48 AM
The Shambles 22 Mar 05 - 10:32 AM
GUEST 22 Mar 05 - 10:49 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 22 Mar 05 - 10:57 AM
greg stephens 22 Mar 05 - 12:03 PM
Azizi 22 Mar 05 - 12:24 PM
greg stephens 22 Mar 05 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Michael Morris at work. 22 Mar 05 - 12:50 PM
Azizi 22 Mar 05 - 01:17 PM
BB 22 Mar 05 - 03:02 PM
greg stephens 22 Mar 05 - 03:21 PM
GUEST 22 Mar 05 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Michael Morris at 22 Mar 05 - 05:31 PM
greg stephens 22 Mar 05 - 06:08 PM
Azizi 22 Mar 05 - 06:16 PM
The Shambles 22 Mar 05 - 06:27 PM
GUEST 22 Mar 05 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Michael Morris at work. 22 Mar 05 - 06:33 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Mar 05 - 03:09 AM
The Shambles 23 Mar 05 - 03:46 AM
Azizi 23 Mar 05 - 04:09 AM
GUEST 23 Mar 05 - 04:22 AM
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Subject: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 03:07 AM

The Gospel Truth?

Could the origins of Gospel Music be white? Willie Ruff, Professor of Music at Yale University, believes so. His recent visits to the Free Church communities of the Outer Hebrides have convinced him his musical roots are more Afro Gaelic than Afro American.

Others are less convinced - Anthony Pinn, Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University sees this as an attempt to deny African Americans their influence on American culture; while British actor and playwright Kwame Kwei Armah asks "Why can we not have anything of our own?"

Broadcaster and theologian Dr Robert Beckford travels to Lewis and to the USA to see if there is any credence in the Professor's extraordinary claims that early Scottish emigrant worship profoundly influenced African slaves. He accompanies a group of Psalm singers to rural Alabama where Professor Ruff's theory is put to the test. Does Gospel music really have white ancestry? Or is it a form of intellectualised white supremacy?

Find out on Monday 21 March @ 8.00pm on Channel 4.

The Gospel Truth? is an Eyeline Media production, directed by Christopher Walker and produced by Terry Wolsey © Eyeline Media Ltd 2005

The Gospel Truth? is supported by Scottish Screen through National Lottery funding.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: mad2
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 03:24 AM

will look out for this - sounds interesting. I would have thought that the scots and the africans influenced one another? will wait to see what the doc has to say


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Flash Company
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 05:09 AM

Got this marked down for recording, I'm having a busy time at the moment, and when I sit down at 8.00pm I tend to doze!

FC


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 05:37 AM

I saw an interesting video the other day, advancing the theory that the roots of bluegrass were African and "Celtic". Same sort of stuff, you know the kind of thing, Scots/Irish immigration into the Appalachians, escaping from the wicked English. well, of course everybody influences each other. There is plenty of pentatonic music in the outer Hebrides, and in Tibet for that matter, not to mention Basildon. Personally, i would say that the distinctive features of the Hebridean religious music are a million miles from black gospel. The harmonies of gospel are obviously 3-chord trick NW european rather than African, but certainly not specifically Hebridean. The sonorities are stunningly un-Hebridean, the language obviously not Hebridean, the melodies not Hebridean. So what is left? However, I shall watch the programme with the greatest of interest, and listen to a few gospel recordings, and my treasured Isle of Lewis psalm tape as well, to prepare myself culturally.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 01:10 PM

Greg, I think that the Gaels method of "presenting" may have been adopted by Black gospel singers. This is perhaps what is being referred to.
I grew up with Gaelic presenting, but it would be a stretch to call it music. The Black gospel sure sounds better!
       Sandy


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST,Michael Morris at work.
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 01:40 PM

This is an old debate. George Pullen Jackson argued that black gospel was European in origin, and in turn he was challenged by scholars who insisted it was African-American in origin. To my ears, it clearly is a hybrid form: A New World form derived from Old World antecedents. In that way, it's like most American folk music (unsurprisingly so). The parallels between gospel and some Hebridean forms have been noted more recently by Robert Cantwell in his book on bluegrass, though he argues strongly (and convincingly, I believe) for cross-fertilization between British and African forms in American music. He even uses the dreaded "C" word

I think there is a problem in framing the argument upon a search for ultimate sources. National folk song forms and styles do not exist as discrete entities, and isolating one influence to the exclusion of others is bound to lead to problems.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: PoppaGator
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 02:09 PM

Several weeks ago, I read an article about this specific interaction between a group of African-American gospel singers visiting the Hebrides and their host congregation. It was published in the "Travel" section of the New Orleans Sunday Times-Picayune. I briefly considered posting something about it here at Mudcat, but never got around to it. I'm glad it's coming to light via BBC TV.

I'm not taking a position on how valid the argument might be without hearing the music in question. I hope the BBC documentary finds its way to US TV sometime soon so I can listen and make up my mind.

In general, I think it's obvious that Black gospel, like the blues and all other African-American musical forms, combines European and African influences in some way. If there's something special about this particular Scots/Gaelic style of church singing that is especially evident in Black American gospel, I'd love to hear it.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 02:26 PM

Not BBC TV but Channel 4.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 02:29 PM

http://www.channel4.com/culture/


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 02:33 PM

The Gospel Truth
Writer: Mike Gerber

Unless you're a vinyl junky, the discs you spin on your hi-fi these days are no longer black, yet in a musical sense many probably are. Because if you listen to any jazz, blues, hip-hop, soul, funk, disco, gospel, rock, what's turning you on is strongly rooted in African-American music.

African American culture has also impacted on country and folk music, klezmer, the Broadway show-song, classical composition, Latin American, African and Caribbean music. Not to mention literature, painting, architecture, interior design, the clothes we wear, the way we speak, our way of life.

What though do you mean by African-American music? Think you know? Channel 4's documentary The Gospel Truth might shake any complacent assumptions. It argues that there are strong links between Scottish Presbyterian music and the gospel music heard in Black churches.

We learn that Highland Scots were slave owners in the Southern States of America from 1740s onwards and slaves brought over from west Africa took on some of their owners' cultural and religious practices.

One thing is certain; anyone who contends that there have been important non-Black influences on African-American music can expect to take considerable flak.

Black musicians and pundits often complain, 'the whites stole our music'. Their perception is that white musicians and music business entrepreneurs that often benefited from the music that Black people originated. So the issue of the origins of African-American music is hotly political! The debate was particularly potent in the late 1950s and 1960s when African-Americans were struggling for civil rights, and proudly reclaiming their African roots.

African-American is, by definition, where everybody else fits in. All Americans are, except Native Americans, recent settlers historically speaking. They all brought their music, and much of that too affected the development of African-American music.

Other influences include the music composed by first-generation Jewish-Americans - George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Vincent Youmans, Richard Rogers and others. These songs fed right into jazz as standards on which musicians frequently based their improvisations.

Yet those wonderful songs were themselves emanations from the American 'melting pot' that Inevitably included a heavy debt to African-American influences - ragtime, cakewalk, blues, the black marching-band tradition. Those idioms in turn were melting-pot phenomena.

Some of the best research on this convolutedly complex terrain has been done by a white South African, Peter Van Der Merwe. In his book Origins of Popular Style, he notes: 'For over three and a half centuries Black and white Americans have been living, working and making music together, or at any rate within hollering distance of each other. It would be a miracle if there were not profound musical influence and such influence there undoubtedly was.'

Yes, those Gaelic speaking Highlanders are in there, but so too are Scottish-Irish and the Catholic-Irish and Latinos. So too the French-Louisianan colonials, a powerful factor in the musical development of the 'Creole' blacks.

New Orleans Creoles were relatively privileged compared with most other Black people. Their musicians were often schooled in European classical music. They however also absorbed the rhythmically and tonally thrilling strains coming from their Black culture, along with motley other musical influences. Many key figures in early jazz, like Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton and Freddie Keppard were Creoles.

The debate about the provenance of jazz shows no sign of abating, but what should be beyond dispute, is that a disproportionate number of jazz's greatest practitioners and innovators have been Black.

The blues is one musical form that is unarguably African-American. It is a commonly held misunderstanding to define blues narrowly as 'music of oppression'. Blues music was born out of African-American oppression, certainly, but it often transcends it. Particularly in the urban context - the classic jazz-blues of Bessie Smith, boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues, the belting southern soul music of Ray Charles.

Look beyond the 'oppression' definition and, as Van Der Merwe finds, 'the blues' genealogy includes clear connections to both British and African folk music, as well as the jigs, dance songs, minstrel tunes, and even parlour music'. Many characteristics commonly associated with the blues and other African-American forms are not in themselves unique to Black music. Bent or 'blue' notes, improvisation, vocalised instrumentation, melismatic singing, call-and-response, syncopation, modes, the preponderant minor-key feel - all these can be found in other musical cultures.

What makes African-American music Black? The answer must be that Americans of African descent, by degrees, synthesised, personalised and transformed their multifarious musical influences, some recalled from African cultures, some learned from other Americans. They did this in numerous, cumulative ways - examples being the far greater emphasis on syncopation, the introduction of African-style cross-rhythms and the adaptation of instrumental techniques. Out of all this they originated a succession of distinctively expressive musical idioms, so creatively liberating, so vital that they swept the world and transformed popular culture.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 03:29 PM

If you sail a boat up and down from north Africa along the west coast of Europe you'll encounter variations on the same sound under different names - flamenco, sean-nós, etc. Surely it was a musical tradition that traded its sounds along the roads of the sea?


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 04:12 PM

One error should be corrected to start: Most of the Highland Scots were not wealthy slave owners, but exiles who were forced from their homeland. These people were dirt poor and often worked side by side with the slaves, especially in the Carolinas. Culture was no doubt exchanged and also some intermarriage followed. If these descendants had some common ancestors there would have to be cultural bonding as well.
"Presenting" in the churches of the Highland Scots consisted of a leader who would sing or chant in Gaelic one line of a hymn or Psalm. The congregation would then sing the same line in unison and so on until it was finished. This was done because Gaelic Bibles and hymnbooks were scarce and also many of the people were illiterate in their mother tongue. The presenter would be more often chosen because he could read than because he could sing.
   No doubt that among the slaves illiteracy was also very high and this follow the leader format was also adopted. This does not, of course apply to all Black gospel music, but I think you will find that this is the tie being studied.
                   Slainte,
                        Sandy


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 04:21 PM

That is a good point as the sea, sea ports and rivers also were the way all the cultures come together and affect each other- sadly not always out of choice. The sound of the waves would have always been a reminder of the homes - far over the sea - that both cultures did not want to leave and would wish to return to.

The programme was stronger on the roots of how the Scottish musical, religeous and cultural influence came to the new world. It was less strong - I thought - on the many musical influences that the various African cultures brought with them (including drums and stringed banjo type instuments).

It left you with the idea that call and response came from the Gaelic 'lining-out' and was not a already an important part of the African culture. Which looking at Africa now, where this call and response is present in many cutures - I tend to think not to be the case.

However this call and response aspect probably suggests how the scatterered remnants of African culture that came to the new world as slaves would have found this aspect of the Gaelic worship as a familiar element and developed this. Later introducing the syncopated elements missing from the drawn-out 'sean-nós' singing.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 07:29 PM

What a fascinating subject. Thanks for discussing it.

I have a question that will expose my ignorance: The UK has a lot of immigrants. Are they almost all from Jamaica/Haiti/the South Pacific, et al, or does a signifant number come from Africa? My point really is, is their music primarily reflect reggae and calypso and other more convoluted beats rather than what we think of as American Black music like Gospel or jazz?


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 08:57 PM

I would have loved to have seen this program. Hopefully, it will eventually be aired in the United States and elsewhere.

I agree with PoppaGator's comment that "In general, I think it's obvious that Black gospel, like the blues and all other African-American musical forms, combines European and African influences in some way." Although I would have written that Black music combines African and European influences instead of the other way around

;O)

I see know reason to doubt that African Americans adopted the practice of "lining" out religious songs from others. It seems to me that a large part of the reason for adopting that practice was the similarity between "lining" [or "presenting" a song as I am reading is the term that Gaelic people used] and the traditional African pattern of call & response. Of course, the fact that both groups had large numbers of people who couldn't read can not be discounted. However, my point is that illiteracy would not have been the ONLY reason that African Americans adopted this practice.*

Considering further the position that similarities in customs influence choices, I offer this quote from Shiela Walker's "African Roots/American Cultures-Africa In The Creation of the Americas" {Lanham, MD; Bowman & Littlefield, 2001; p. 159}:

{Writing about the factors that contributed to the form of Christianity that most African Americans adopted in the eighteen century}.."The Methodist and Baptist denominations were the most successful in conveting African exiles and Afircan-Americans to Christianity. I believe this is true, in large measure, because the religious practices of the then evangelical movements of John and Charles Wesley openly embraced ecstatic expressions of religious fevor. Consequently "speaking in tongues", "fainting", "moving with the shakes"; uncontrollably going into trance like states" were all practices in which white Methodist and Baptist religious celebrants engaged. In other words, religious behavior of the eighteenth century evangelical Methodists and Baptists were very consistent with religous behaviors of eighteenth century West Africans, although the religious ideology was not. This congruence of religous behavior was what anthropologist Melville Heskovits suggest was fertile ground for cultural syncretism to grow."
Olly Wilson 'It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing": The
Relationship Between African and African American Music

end of quote.

* Given the increased literacy among African Americans, the need for a leader to recite a line of a song, and the congregation repeat that line has all but disappeared and so to has the practice of lining. Besides, lining's African "cousin" call & response interfers much less with our {people of African descent's} first love-syncopation.


Azizi


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 09:29 PM

"Call and response" (and syncopation) is normal in most cultures, so far as I can tell. Given that so many Scots were involved in slave-owning situations in America and the Caribbean, it would be surprising if there were not a cultural crossover, though I wouldn't care to guess at the details.

Let's not indulge overmuch in the romantic fantasy of the Gaelic-speaking Scot as "victim"; poor people emigrated to the Americas from all over Europe because they had to. They took servants, or slaves, just as soon as they could. The Scots, Highland or Lowland, were no better or worse than everybody else.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 09:32 PM

In an Irish documentary series some years ago, it was postulated that Coptic Christianity was brought to Ireland by traders along the Atlantic coast, and that it was therefore easy for the organised Catholic system to displace the original, non-hierarcical system.
As part of their research, as well as comparing Irish caligraphy and patterns with north-african ones, they took a gaelic singer to a north-african marketplace to perform un-announced and then interviewed locals about the performance. the concensus was that the singer must be from another area because they didn't understand the dialect, but that the music was local.
C.H.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 02:01 AM

The looks on the faces of the American congregation when they were faced with the Gaelic singing - look to be a similar response. Seeing and hearing this in the film - probably says more that the academic opinions of those who were not there or who have not seem the film.

It was a bit sad to see some who could only see this in terms of politics - rather than the musical history it is. Wllie Ruff being dismissed as a child of his time and in favour of integration was not fair. If intergration means everyone getting along, singing together and learning from each other - then I am all for it.

The idea that gospel music is in some way devalued by an influence from the Gaelic connection - and any less Afican in origin is not valid. Especially as no one was really making such a claim.


The idea that there is syncopation in 'sean nor' singing is an interesting one. I would be interested in the evidence for this.

Also the call and respose aspect would not be unknown to all of those brought to the New World at this time - in sailing vessels and their shanty-singing crews


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Big Tim
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 02:39 AM

I'm not qualified to say yea or nay. But I watched and was fascinated by the programme.

One thing that struck me was that there were a lot of black doubters but when they saw or heard the Hebrideans sing they were amazed at the similarities. When the Scots group sang in a southern black church, in Gaelic, many of the black congregation began to sing along, even though they didn't know the language. Sandy McLean is correct,the emphasis of the programme was on "presenting".

The other thing that struck me was how far we have advanced in race relations, not just since slavery, but in the last 40 years.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 03:26 AM

The practice of lining-out may be found now in some parts of the outer Hebrides, and in some parts of Alabama. There is a logical fallacy in assuming a specific influence from one to the other, transmitted around 1740. The question that needs to be asked is, who was singing in this call and response fashion in the eighteenth century in the southern United States.
    This all reminds me of the famous assumption that there is something "Celtic" about bagpipes, because they seem to be found more commonly in Ireland and Scotland than in England. Of course, the historical fact is that they were common in all those countries, but cultural changes caused the use of the pipes to die out in most of England. The same question needs to be asked here: was lining-out unique to Gaelic-speaking Scottish islanders in 1740? And the answer, I would suggest, is probably "no".


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: JulieF
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 04:34 AM

I was a bit disappointed in the program in that I thought it lacked a lot of analysis that might have helped.

i) it didn't look at what the slaves brought with them - so that you could get an idea of how much they assimulated from others in the community.

ii) it didn't look at why the music then became different ie look at the differences in worship in the presberian church and the american baptist churches.

iii) It didn't acknowledge that you bring singers/musicians together they will almost always find some commonality in what they do.

iv) it didn't elaborate on how the poor from the islands became the slave owners in america.   ( One family went over in 1804 and were documented as buying a slave in 1814 or so). It seemed to be assumed that this just happened immediately.   Whereas there would have been winners and loosers at this point as well.   But I can't quibble as that would have been a completely different story.


The program did manage to demeonstrate some influence but it was hard to establish how much for the reasons outlined above and it was interesting to learn that for some slaves gaelic was their first western lanaguage which I wouldn't have thought about. It would be great if someone would do a more indepth study - can we send them Howard Goodall - he's aprticularly good at that sort of stuff.

J


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 04:52 AM

I watched this and was fascinated, partly because as a Scot from Glasgow the form of the NWestern singing seemed so foreign to me.

I thought the politics of ownership a bit sad in that it seemed so difficult to question current orthodoxies but the same thought kept coming back to me: why should anyone doubt that gospel music which is, after all a method of delivering the Gospel, has its roots at least partly in the music of the people promoting that gospel.

Christianity was the religion of white Europeans being promoted by white Europeans to supplant the religions of the people they colonised all over the world. The fact that it is now embraced so overwhelmingly by black people does not alter this.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:22 AM

open your eyes
open your ears
open your mind.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:41 AM

I thought the politics of ownership a bit sad in that it seemed so difficult to question current orthodoxies but the same thought kept coming back to me: why should anyone doubt that gospel music which is, after all a method of delivering the Gospel, has its roots at least partly in the music of the people promoting that gospel.

Amen.

The programme did not follow-up to where the music has gone to now and also not - as earlier mentioned - what Africans brought to this. Perhaps the makers thought that this ground had already be well-covered?

But without exploring these aspects more - you could perhaps excuse some folk from thinking that it was an attempt to take credit away from Africans and Afro-Americans?

However, the programme did strongly suggest - by producing a record kept of one family and having living members of this family present - that some of the blood of these Gaels were now mixed with those who are now referred to Afro-Americans. Both black and white members of this family seemed reconciled and stated that they were happy with this. Even when talking together whilst standing in front of the remains of the wooden shack that the Afro-American man's ancestors lived in (as slaves).


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 07:53 AM

Perhaps what is needed [and apparently what that British television program failed to provide] is information on the similarities between African-American and West African/Central African music.
I specifically focus on these two regions of Africa since those were the regions from which the African ancestors of the majority of African Americans came.

Here is a quote that provide some introductory information on this subject:

"Spirituals are of two text types: sorrow songs and jubilees {some of the latter were used as "shout spirituals}....Examples of this type of spiritual [sorrow songs] are "Nobody Knows The Trouble I See", "What A Tryin' Time"; "I'm Troubled In Mind", I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray", "Go Down Moses", "Were You There," and "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child".

Jubilees express joyful expectation of a better life in the future. Songs such as "Goin to Shout All Over God's Heaven", "Little David Play On Your Harp", King Jesus is A-Listenin', In that Great Gittin Up Mornin", and When de Saints Fo marchin' In' express jubilation for present and future blessings.

The kinship of these early spirituals to African performance is striking. The song 'Steal Away,' for example, has short phrases taht repeat, grow, and make larger melodic structures and uses multimeter, pendular thirds, and descending phrase endings.It also makes use of the 'implication, euphemism, symbol, allegory,and secret [that] is a part of the everyday technique of oral expression' in Africa {Zahan [1970] 1979, 114}. Furthermore, any performance of 'Steal Away' will conform to many of Lomax's }1975, 46}characteristics of the African song style that I quoted in chapeter 1: it will be vocally non-tense, textually quite repetitious, lacking in melodic embellishment, non-complex, relaxed, cohesive, multileveled, and leader-oriented-"distintly African" according to Lomax. In this spiritual, as in most others, we see the African retentions that effect the continuity that is characteristic of the elaboration of black music in America."
{Samuel A Floyd, "The Power of Black Music, p. 42}

-snip-

I would also take this opportunity to say that there appears to be an underlying assumption that there Gaelic people and Africans had no historical connections. Anthropological evidence confirms that all people originally came from Africa. Furthermore, historical documents show that prior to early contact with Europeans in the 15th century or so, Black Africans were not people who remained locked in their own geographical areas, failing to travel or make any contact with non-African peoples. Couldn't it be possible that the presence of call & response patterned singing in Gaelic music came from this ancient and not so ancient contact?

For those interested in reading about Black Africans' presence in Europe and the Middle East and Black Africans' profound influence on the cultures of Europe and the Middle East, let me suggest the following three books:

Frank M. Snowden Jr., "Blacks In Antiquity-Ethiopians In The
Greco-Roman Experience" {Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1970}

Ivan Van Sertima, editor "African Prsence in Early Europe"
{New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, 1988}

Frank M. Snowden, Jr, "Before Color Prejudice-The Ancient Vuew of Blacks" {Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1983}



Azizi


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 08:32 AM

Ummm, we have no records of black Africans (opposed to Berbers) going to Gaelic lands. It would definitely have been commented on don't you think.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 09:15 AM

Who says Berbers weren't Black?


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 09:47 AM

This thread from last year follows some related themes so perhaps they should be linked.
       Sandy

oral tradition - 'celtic' singing in usa


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 09:48 AM

Of course, the definition of who is Black has always been a troublin thing for folks since that definition differs from one culture to another and changes within the same culture depending on who you ask and what time of day it is..

First off, one can't assume that the way a people look now is the way their ancestors looked..A good case in point are the ancient Egyptians and Egyptians today..An even more telling example would be African Americans in the 18th century and African Americans today.

I don't believe that there is any pure race of people. And I believe that the Berbers were descended from African people who were darker than they are now and also had children by darker skinned Africans..

It happens now and then, folks.

I would dare say that there are countless numbers of people who are considered to be or who consider themselves to be "Black" who look whiter than some people who consider themselves to be pure Europeans.
And this does not count the large number of Black folks who are knowingly passin for White or whose ancestors passed for white...

For more general information on the people generally known as Berbers, see this link:

Berbers

Here is one excerpt from that site:

"THE ANCIENT Berber culture is extrordinarily rich and diverse, with a variety of musical styles. These range from bagpipes and oboe (Celtic style) to pentatonic music (reminiscent of Chinese music) - all combined with African rhythms and a very important stock of authentic oral literature. These traditions have been kept alive by small bands of musicians who travel from village to village, as they have for centuries, to entertain at weddings and other social occasions with their songs, tales, and poetry."


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 10:32 AM

Anthropological evidence confirms that all people originally came from Africa

I don't really have a problem with this idea, but I think it is a simplification that some more learned than I on the subject may contend. The anthropological evidence on which all these theories are based - still remains very scarce and every time there is some more evidence found - there are yet more theories.

But it rather depends how far back in the earth's past you wish to go. There was a time when there was no African continent - just one big one continent where all our ancestors existed together - in some form. Or if you want to go even further back - existed together in the sea itself....It all seems to lead back to the sea in some way.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 10:49 AM

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=67594&messages=69&page=1


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 10:57 AM

Sorry, guest above was Sandy of The Lost Cookie. :-}


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 12:03 PM

Azizi quotes a passage about Berber music which is a great example of the sloppy thinking I have talked about earlier in this thread. Because the Celts(whoever they are meant to be) used bagpipes does not mean there is anything distinctively Celtic about bagpipes. Because the Chinese like pentatonic music does not mean there is anything distinctively Chinese about pentatonic music. You would think this would come in to the realm of the Bleeding Obvious, but it is surprising how many amateur ethnomusicogists fall into the trap. It's simple: Michael Coleman played the fiddle, this does not prove the Irish invented the fiddle. The Rolling Stones played blues. This does not prove the English invented blues.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 12:24 PM

Greg,

Thanks for your comments about the Celts and bagpipes and Chinese and pentatonic music.

That website I provided a link to might indeed be guilty of sloppy thinking.

And I'm sure that I am guilty of sloppy thinking sometimes too. That being said, I don't consider myself an ethnomusicologist-amateur or otherwise.

I would also mention that I put more credence in the books that I have read which is why I shared some titles.

I appreciate it when other posters share information that corrects [or suggest corrections] to material I have posted.

That way I learn and others do too.

And with regard to the English inventing blues because the Rolling Stones played blues, I'm sure that you'll find some people who believe that. Not me, though.

;o}


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 12:36 PM

Azizi: I'll bet you're guilty of aloppy thinking, and so am I. I wish God would give us the gift to spot this fault in ourselves as quickly as we can see it in others!
   That programme was just too too sloppy for words though, a load of ill-thought out attempts to generate controversy and confrontation( though I must admit I was only able to watch the first half). However, the fact that it was an intellectually crap programme doesnt mean much, compared with the fact that the theories were fscinating and thought-provoking, the music was stunning, the people you saw were great. Much like a good Mudcat thread, in fact.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST,Michael Morris at work.
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 12:50 PM

Greg-

Your comments are correct regarding origins, but the historical use of particular instruments and stylistic elements is equally important. If the use of lining-out and the pentatonic scale in religious music can be found among Gaelic Scots, and similar elements are found in African-American gospel, and it can be demonstrated that there was interaction between these groups, it is reasonable to conclude there is probably a connection.

Your earlier comment about the endurance of certain instruments in Ireland and Scotland after they had fallen out of general use in England is a valid point. To offer a relevant parallel, lining-out of hymns was practiced not only in the American South but also in New England in the 18th century (earlier?).


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 01:17 PM

Greg, you wrote
"..the theories [in that TV program] were fscinating and thought-provoking, the music was stunning, the people you saw were great. Much like a good Mudcat thread, in fact."

So you can see 'Catters and hear music too?

What's wrong with my Internet connection?

LOL!!


Peace!
Azizi


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: BB
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 03:02 PM

Greg, you said, 'That programme was just too too sloppy for words though, a load of ill-thought out attempts to generate controversy and confrontation( though I must admit I was only able to watch the first half).'

I think that you are a little too quick to condemn the programme, particularly as you didn't watch the whole thing. I found it fairly convincing and, by the end, very positive, and I think it has to be accepted that much of the academic rigour that many of us would have wished to see just wasn't possible in such a short programme. And it wasn't made for the Open University for its students or for academics but for Joe Public.

Let's give the programme makers credit for making an interesting programme on musical traditions, even if it didn't go far enough for most of us!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 03:21 PM

My point, for Michael Morris and others: yes, if Scots Gaelic call-and-response people interacted with African-Americans in 1740, influences could have been transmitted. Well, of course they could, and probably were. What I was querying was how much that influence was transmitted. My crucial point was: because call-and-response has lasted in the Isle of Lewis to the present day has no logical connection whatsoever with an assertion that they were the only people using call-and-response in 17th century north America, and that therefore any call-and-response music subsequently arising had its roots in Scots Gaelic music. It is technically possible that the assertion is true, but the lasting of this form in Lewis is no evidence at all. What we must do is look at what happened in southern USA 1700-1900, not what is happening now in the Lewis. That is just TV "make a controversy" stuff.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 04:17 PM

Ahh, but the Berber interaction I ment was in the form of raids along the coasts of Europe, up to Scandinavia.
BTW there is a great group called Tayfa which takes Breizh (Breton) influences and fuses them to their North-African music.
But what makes you say the Egyptians of today don't resemble the ancient ones?


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST,Michael Morris at
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:31 PM

Greg-
I totally agree, that why I mentioned origins as well as historical development, and why in an earlier posting I questioned the validity of looking for a single source for any form of music, be it Southern gospel or anything else.

Southern gospel is both a black musical form and a white musical form. To understand Southern gospel, we of course should look at the US 1700-1900. To understand a hybrid form such as gospel, it makes sense to look for areas of overlap between white and black music. Two important Old World elements (by all means not the only elements) in this New World form are the call and response styles of Africa and Gaelic Scotland and certain gapped scales.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:08 PM

Yes, but why the call-and-response or lining-out of Gaelic Scotland, as opposed to the call-and-response of non-Gaelic Scotland, or England, or France, or Africa(and which parts of Africa). If this is worth looking at, it's worth looking out prperly. TheIsle of Lewis may be the only place doing it now, but who was doing it then? That's the question to ask.
Incidentally, call-and-response and lining-out are two quite different things. There is very little lining-out in gospel music...it is hardly the core of it, is it?


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:16 PM

I presume that Guest 22 Mar 05 - 04:17 PM is talking to me when s/he [???] asks "what makes you say the Egyptians of today don't resemble the ancient ones?"

Books that I have read on ancient Egypt refer to a population made up of different racial groups and quite a bit of interracial lovin going on..Furthermore, I have read that there were more darker skinned Egyptians than then there are now..

I cannot find quotes that specifially address those points but see this rather long excerpt about interracial mating in the ancient Greco-Roman world..

"In the modern world the crucial test of the white man's acceptance of the Negro is the attitude toward miscegnation. Greek and Roman accounts of race mixture between Ethiopians and Mediterranean whites reveal no repugnance at the idea of racial crossings between whites and non-whites. Herodotus' report on the 240,000 rebellious Egyptians who settled in the reign of Psammetichus I among the Ethiopians and mixed with them is a case in point...Nor does Plutarch when citing the Herodotean account, have anything to say in condemnation of the Ethiopian-Egyptian racial mixture...No explanatory or apolegetic note accompanies mention of Danatis' seven daughtes by an Ethiopian woman, or of the black lover of Aurora, the father of Memnon. Josephus records a legend which declares that Tharbis, the duaghter of the king of the Ethiopians, fell madly in love with Moses when Ethiopia was invaded. Moses accepted her proposal in marriage and after celebrating the nuptials, led the Egyptians back to their own land. Again, there is no comment on the interracial marriage....

Racial mixture of white and Negroid types were frequent enough to the [Roman] Empire for the stirists to find a source of amusement for the Roman public in references to miscegenation..Juvenal implies that mulattoes would be more were it not for the practice of abortion...

The statues of mulattoes and of mixed racial types are proof of the miscegenation noted in the texts. It is safe to assume, therefore, that in course of time many Ethiopians were assimilated into a predominatly white population. Completely random mating regardkess of racial differences in the United States, it has been pointed out, would result in the virtual elimination of darker shades of Negroes and in the almost complete disappearance of Negroid traits. Some such process was not unlikely in the Greco-Roman world in view if the evidence for racial mixture in a society which had no prohibition against miscegenation. {Frank M. Snowden, Jr, "Before Color Prejudice-The Ancient View of Blacks"; pp 192-195}.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:27 PM

That programme was just too too sloppy for words though, a load of ill-thought out attempts to generate controversy and confrontation( though I must admit I was only able to watch the first half).

The second half was the best and most convincing part.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:32 PM

I would agree that there are other European and non-European sources of call and response and lining-out should be considered. Of European sources, other British sources are probably the most important. I would also look at similar practices elsewhere in North America (the New England example is not insignificant).

Without wanting to over-generalize, I would say say that call and response and lining-out are at least closely related practices, but I'm sure I would get a good argument on this from someone more knowledgible than myself.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST,Michael Morris at work.
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:33 PM

Previous post by myself at work, I hate the enter button on this keyboard.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 03:09 AM

I'm with Greg on this one; that style of singing was simply a lot more common and widespread in the past, and the fact that it survives in only isolated areas of the UK today doesn't of itself prove anything; though I'd keep an open mind on the question pending more detailed research. It may be that the congruity of Highland Scottish and African liturgical singing may have reinforced the style in the New World, but it won't have been a simple "either or" thing.

I'm not sure how relevant it is to suggest that Berbers may have been darker in the past than they are now (or, really, what they have to do with it at all). They were still Northern Africans, not members of the nations from which slaves were mostly drawn. The issue is one of musical culture, surely, not colour.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 03:46 AM

Perhaps a large part of the issue does touch on is oppression and all forms of slavery? We should not forget that The Barbary or North African) Pirates were not adverse to descending upon the ports of England, Ireland and Wales for their slaves.

http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/article.asp?ID=1604


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 04:09 AM

Malcolm,

My comments regarding the 'Berbers' were in responds to this post by Guest 22 Mar 05 - 08:32 AM:

"Ummm, we have no records of black Africans (opposed to Berbers) going to Gaelic lands. It would definitely have been commented on don't you think."

While I agree with you that the issue of the skin color of ancient North Africans is more thread drift than directly part of this thread topic, I would still refer those who are interested in the subject of Africans in ancient Europe [and cultural other interactions between those populations] to the books I had previously listed.


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Subject: RE: Gospel music is Gaelic? UK TV 21 Mar
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 04:22 AM

Lets just get the new Dr Who to nip back and find out for us!Now that would be a good programme to watch.


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