CDE84673 18 Negro Spirituals

18 Negro Spirituals

18 Negro Spirituals
12.00

Product Description

My introduction to Negro Spirituals was thanks to Rebeca Omordia. I played a few South African folk songs in her African Concert Series, and based on that she thought that the spirituals would suit me. She gave me a collection of five, arranged for baritone and piano. I transcribed these for double bass, and we first performed them live on Radio 3. That led to the idea of a CD recording and I began to look for more....and there are huge collections available online, in various guises: solo voice, choral arrangements, piano solo, instrumental arrangements etc. Then I had to find ones that resonated with me – and would work on the bass.  

Leon Bosch
18 Negro Spirituals

These concert settings of folksongs are miniatures; they are gems of black American music literature. The presentation of 18 Negro Spirituals for solo double bass (Leon Bosch) and piano (Rebeca Omordia) provides an opportunity for two symbolic considerations.  Firstly, this compilation represents an instrumental attempt to reconceive the concert spirituals for the double bass.  In so doing, the recording represents the elevation of a musical genre that arose from the dehumanized enslavement suffering of Africans at the hands of European colonists during the 17th to the 19th centuries in America.  Secondly, this body of song arose at the time of the Enlightenment (early 17th to mid 18th centuries).  It is astounding that enslaved Africans provided an enduring legacy of song by reconfiguring the Christian gospel of love taught to them by preaching colonists.

 

Stripped of musical instruments and prohibited from fashioning drums in the New World, the enslaved Africans created spirituals during the European Reformation at the time of the Baroque Era (early 17th to mid 18th centuries).  Baroque music and African American spirituals, though contemporaneous musical creations, differ in context of their production (creation) histories.1 European early music prides itself in creating written scores: composed authorship.  These musical texts (scores) give rise to a body of analytical and critical scholarship that examines the role of European musical composition, construction, and aesthetics.2  Spirituals, by contrast, are folksongs without known authorship (many scholars have argued for communal authorship), textual variability, circular (repetitive) aesthetic frameworks, etc. To be sure, European folk music shares some similarities with spirituals (for instance: unknown authorship and textual variability).

 

Despite the dissimilarity of these contemporaneous musical genres, there is an abiding philosophical irony in the American context. Spirituals are the artistic products of enslaved people denied equal human dignity in the New World. The supreme irony is that during the growth of spirituals in the newly-independent American colonies, these colonists could enshrine in their Declaration of Independence (1776): We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . . .  The reception history (longevity) of spirituals from the enslavement era has blossomed beyond its 17th-mid 19th century oral history phase.  After the American Civil War (1860-1865) the notation of spirituals paved the way for the turn-of-the-century concert spiritual genre.

18 Negro Spirituals