“Blest Be the Tie that Binds”

William T. Dargan

in Lining Out the Word

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780520234482
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928923 | DOI:
“Blest Be the Tie that Binds”

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In the universe of Dr. Watts hymn singing, the particular qualities of regional styles and their unifying similarities are of equal importance. This chapter focuses on regional traditions of hymn singing, building upon both the local ethnography by Pitts (1993) and the regional styles described by Reagon and Brevard (1994). The quiltwork of musical dialects stretches itself across the southeastern United States, with more random urban intersections in the North and West. The precise number of these styles is unknown, and the process of discovering or recovering them from obscurity might continue for years to come. Because they are among the most widely distributed and currently available examples of black hymn singing, thirty-three recorded performances have been selected for analysis in this and subsequent chapters. Ensemble textures are a more constant and neutral element than the subtle approaches to timbre and rhythm that underlie moaning and shouting. Moaning hymns are heard in textures that are either unison, organum, or triadic harmony.

Keywords: Dr. Watts; hymn singing; hymns; moaning; regional styles; musical dialects; United States; shouting; ensemble textures

Chapter.  7036 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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