Questions for African Roots of American Music

Questions for African Roots of American Music

1) Listen to “Run Old Jeremiah” on the Musical Africanisms slide (or the first track on this unit’s playlist).
a. Write a few sentences describing what you hear.
i. What instruments do you hear and/or how are the sounds being made
ii. Is this a group or a solo
iii. Does it sound like a formal performance or a community of participants
iv. Is there call-and-response
v. Is it complex or simple in terms of both melody and rhythm
vi. How does it make you feel

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This is a very open-ended question. Really what I’m looking for is for you to describe your experience of the music.

2) Listen to “Carrie Belle” on the second Traditional African American Music Making slide.
a. What sounds improvisatory and what sounds fixed?
b. What does the rhythm tell you about the nature of the work being performed?
c. Do the words have any relationship to the work?
i. Why or why not?
d. Also listen to “Old Alabama” on the same slide and describe some of the similarities and differences between the two work songs.

3) Watch the video of Patting Juba on the first Traditional African American Music Making slide.
a. What is striking about the participants?
b. How do you feel about this?
c. What does this tell you about the position of African American cultural traditions in the world today?

4) Watch the video for “I’ll Fly Away” on the Ring Shout slide.
a. Compare and contrast the Ring Shout with Patting Juba.
i. Include at least three specific differences/similarities and your personal comments on them.
ii. Also please comment on what the woman speaking says to contextualize the Ring Shout or in other words to tell you how slaves might have used this music.

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