What is Your perspective about Gospel Music???

According to American Heritage Dictionary 2016, Gospel Music is a kind of Christian music based on American folk music, typically marked by strong rhythms and elaborated refrains and incorporating elements of spirituals, blues, and jazz

Gospel music originated from a style of music called Spiritual: an earlier musical style which emanated from the African American Christian slaves around the late 17th Century. The characteristic musical elements of Spiritual are evident in blues, the secular genre among the black slaves. The core musical element of gospel music is the stylistics development which began with the musical tradition of the Protestant churches among the Negro slaves.

The evolutionary period of gospel music spanned 1900 till the last decade of 19th century, crossover era or postmodernism period developed from the 1990s to present day. Some of the musical elements involved embellished simple melodies in full falsetto voice or natural voice, extension or repetition of any fragment of texts, spontaneous or choreographed dancing, shout, hum, growl, moan, whisper, scream, cry, glissandos, interpolating formulaic phrases, clapping and stumping to accompany singing, open-ended ostinato and many more.


Below are the characteristic features of the Contemporary Gospel music which can also be referred to as the Urbanization of contemporary gospel music. The focus here is on urban youth and mainstream music or Afro-centric gospel music. Paul, David and Maurice. (2009:31) in examining the musical elements in urban Gospel Music state:

“When gospel music is performed in African- American churches, it is important that the audience respond. In fact, the performer’s skill is measured by the amount of active support or talking back that comes from the listeners.”

Some of the major musical elements are:

  1. Rhythmic pattern is mostly Hip-hop and Funky grooves. The rhythmic flow of compound triple meter of three dotted crotchet beats in a bar that is (9:8) and six quaver beats in a bar that is (6:8) are also common.
  2. Drummers typically play with Loop (a light sequenced drum rhythm). Music sequencing, synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, and various music software on computers that enhance rhythmic creativity especially for accompaniment tracks.

iii. Music technology plays a major role. Rap and R & B musical elements with heavy emphasis on the bass guitar, electronic organ, brass and horns lines are relevant.

  1. Frequent modulation, text distortion, Polytonality and metric change, ‘praise break jams’ are common musical elements.
  2. Dark timbre, Chest Singing, men singing falsetto, female tenor and coloratura sopranos, moaning, groaning, shouting, various vocal effects are also common for vocal embellishment.

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