American Negro spirituals


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American Negro spirituals:

see spiritualspiritual,
a religious folk song of American origin, particularly associated with African-American Protestants of the southern United States. The African-American spiritual, characterized by syncopation, polyrhythmic structure, and the pentatonic scale of five whole tones, is,
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In the preface to the Book of American Negro Spirituals, Johnson is very direct about the inability of musical notation to capture the "peculiarities" of African American performance: "I doubt that it is possible with our present system of notation to make a fixed transcription of these peculiarities that would be absolutely true; for in their very nature they are not susceptible to fixation" (30).

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