Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Epstein, Dena J. "A White Origin for the Black Spiritual?: An Invalid Theory and How It Grew." American Music 1 (Summer 1983): 53-59.

The myth that the black spiritual was completely derived from white folk hymns is one of the most pervasive in the literature about black folk music. Early studies of black folk music such as Richard Wallaschek's Primitive Music (1893) and George Pullen Jackson's White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands (1933) relied solely on transcriptions, a process which does not account for performative and aural contexts of folk music. In effect, these studies mistakenly equated transcriptions with the music as it was performed and thus tacitly assumed that any deviation from the diatonic scale was due to a performer's misinterpretation of music of white origins. These analyses do not account for the process of syncretism which had to have taken place between African- and European-derived musical elements in the development of the black spiritual.

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s, Jazz

Contributed by: Amanda Sewell

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