WHAT’S On YOUR MIND Introduction Song lyrics can represent different perspectives about historical events and times of the past. In the context of this lesson, we will investigate how slave spiritual songs give us a perspective about the deep emotional feelings held by the slaves. In addition, we will discover how uneducated slaves communicated with one another through song lyrics. You will perform a close reading of the song lyrics to determine the underlying meaning of the song. You will also make personal connections about how you relate to music and lyrics in everyday life.
SLAVE SPIRITUALS SONGS OF SLAVERY Task: Imagine yourself in the character of a slave. Keep in mind that slaves were forbidden to openly speak out or express their thoughts. Listen to the audio version of a slave spiritual by clicking the picture icon below.
ENCODED MESSAGES SONGS OF SLAVERY Next, click the picture icon below, and select a slave spiritual from the website. You will perform a close reading of the song lyrics to determine the underlying meaning of the song. Write a one page analysis of the spiritual you have selected. Analyze the song by interpreting the lyrics and deciphering any decoded messages. Look at the word choice and analyze what type of language is used to conceal hidden messages. Can you identify any metaphors? When writing your analysis consider the deeper thoughts and feelings you believe are conveyed in the song. How does the song give the slave a voice? Who do you think was the composer of the song?
THE POWER OF LYRICS By now you should have a sense for how slaves expressed themselves through spiritual songs. Task: Write your own protest song based on your beliefs. Keep in mind that a song of protest generally invokes a message about social change. Experience the thrill of composing a song that conveys a message for positive change. Exercise your creative expression. You may self-select any topic. Include at least two verses and a chorus. Since this is a protest song, you will want to disguise your lyrics somewhat so that outsiders won't be able to understand your coded message. You may use any musical style you'd like. Be prepared to present and explain your song lyrics to your classmates. You will also complete a thorough analysis of the translation of your song – at least two paragraphs in length.
YOUR MESSAGE HAS BEEN HEARD Final task: Finally, when you have completed the Webquest on the Wiki, read the protest songs and analysis of at least three other classmates. Engage in a constructive discussion about each piece of creative work with the author of the work by posting your comments in the comment section. You must post a minimum of two comments per person to receive full credit. Your comments should include both positive and constructive suggestions for improving the written work. All discussions will be considered part of your class participation grade. Image source: http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/SlaveTrade/collection/large/LCP-04.JPG