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Contemporary gospel versus traditional gospel music.

Contemporary gospel versus traditional gospel music.

Contemporary gospel versus traditional gospel music.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music that can be traced back to the early 17th century. It carries a message of faith, hope, and encouragement to the listener. Gospel music has evolved over the years and can be broadly divided into two main categories: traditional gospel and contemporary gospel. These two styles, while sharing the same foundational purpose, are different in several ways.

Traditional Gospel Music

Traditional gospel music is the older of the two styles and traces its roots back to African-American spirituals, hymn singing, and early blues. The traditional gospel often includes a choir, though it can also feature a soloist backed by a choir. Traditional gospel’s rhythm is often less varied, usually based on simple time signatures, with a steady beat.

Lyrically, traditional gospel music typically takes its inspiration directly from the Bible, often quoting scripture verbatim or paraphrasing biblical stories and themes. It is common for traditional gospel to use a call-and-response format, reflecting its origins in African music and worship styles.

Musical instruments used in traditional gospel music commonly include the piano, organ, bass, and drums, and the music often features rich harmonies. The vocal delivery in traditional gospel tends to be powerful and emotional, with a strong emphasis on the ‘soul’ delivery of the vocal lines.

Famous traditional gospel artists include Mahalia Jackson, The Staple Singers, and The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Contemporary Gospel Music

Contemporary gospel, as the name suggests, is a more modern development within the gospel genre. This style emerged in the 1960s and ’70s and incorporates elements of modern music genres such as R&B, pop, rock, and even hip-hop. The contemporary gospel is designed to appeal to a younger and more diverse audience, often with more modern and experimental production techniques.

Contemporary gospel music still maintains its focus on Christian themes and messages. However, the lyrics may not always quote the Bible directly, instead using more abstract or interpretive language to express faith and spirituality.

The instrumentation in contemporary gospel is often more varied than in traditional gospel, incorporating electric guitars, synthesizers, and often a more complex rhythmic structure. The vocal style in contemporary gospel can vary greatly, from soft and intimate to bold and energetic, often reflecting the variety of influences from other music genres.

Some well-known contemporary gospel artists include Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, and CeCe Winans.

In conclusion, while traditional and contemporary gospel music shares the same roots and purpose – to express and share faith in Christianity – they do so in different ways. Traditional gospel adheres to a more classic, ‘soulful’ style with direct biblical references, while contemporary gospel incorporates modern music styles and indirect, interpretive lyrics. Both have their place in the wide and diverse world of gospel music.

Joshua Daniel

Nigerian based gospel minister CEO of Revelationmusik, a blogger, a social media manager and an entrepreneur. I have worked with so many notable names and award-winning artists in the Gospel genre of Christian music, both locally and internationally.

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