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Gospel

By 1945, nearly everyone in the African American community had heard gospel music (2). At this time, gospel music was a sacred folk music with origins in field hollers, work songs, slave songs, Baptist lining hymns, and Negro spirituals. These songs that influenced gospel music were adapted and reworked into expressions of praise and thanks of the community. Although the harmonies were similar to those of the blues or hymns in that they shared the same simplicity, the rhythm was much different. The rhythms often times had the music with its unique accents, the speech, walk, and laughter which brought along with it synchronized movements. (2) The gospel piano style was based on the rhythm section concept, where the middle of the piano was used to support the singers. This area supported the singers by doubling the vocal line in harmony. The bottom, left corner of the piano was used as a bass fiddle while the upper right hand portion played the counter melodies, taking the place of a trumpet or flute. It was the right hand corner that filled in the material during the rhythmic breaks. Often times the text of the gospel songs portrayed meanings of the Trinity, blessings, thanks and lamentations. The singers used the voices to communicate their feelings about Christianity. Many singers sang through the problems and moved their audiences, often congregations, so much so that the audience forgot their own problems temporarily and the weights of the world...

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