Different Types of Music:
Song: A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches ( melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetition and variation of sections.
Written words created specifically for music for which music is specifically created, are called lyrics. If a pre-existing poem is set to composed music in classical music it is an art song. Songs that are sung on repeated pitches without distinct contours and patterns that rise and fall are called chants. Songs composed in a simple style that are learned informally “by ear” are often called folk songs. Songs may also be ballads.
The musical form of a song is A – B – A. The A section is usually the refrain followed by the B section which is usually the verse. On occasion, songs may start with a verse but must end with the refrain.
Hymn: A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure of personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ( hymnos ), which means “a song of praise”. A writer of hymns is known as a hymnist. The singing or composition of hymns is called hymnody. Collections of hymns are known as hymnals or hymn books. Hymns may or may not include instrumental accompaniment.
The Catholic church used hymns in 1972 after the Second Vatican Council as a means to bring many aspects of the Gospels to members of the congregation. Not having many examples of music in English to highlight the scriptures in a musical form, we have many hymns from other faiths as well as Catholic hymns. The musical form of hymns are “through composed”.
Through composed means that the music is not separated into the verse/refrain format. It is a common misnomer that hymns are not part of the Catholic tradition. The musical format of hymns are used in many denominations such as the Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran Churches. And yes, we do have Catholic hymns!
Spiritual: Spiritual is a genre of songs originating in the United States and created by African Americans. Spirituals were originally an oral tradition that imparted Christian values while also describing the hardships of slavery. Although spirituals were originally unaccompanied monophonic songs, they developed into harmonized choral arrangements.
Since the slaves were not allowed to have a formal gathering in church, spirituals were a way to express their faith through music while they were working. One of the most well known spirituals everyone would know is Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?
Gregorian Chant: Gregorian Chant was prominent around the time of Pope Gregory the Great. Later, he was canonized a saint. He lived from 540 – 604. His Episcopacy was from 590 – 604. During this time, there were many discoveries about the music of the church. Because Poe Gregory recognized these discoveries of music of the Western World ( Europe at the time ), the chant was dedicated to him, hence, named Gregorian Chant. This practice of dedicating music to the greater Glory of God or to a Pope was common practice at this time in history.
This period of time was so important to the music of the church and related to the music that we hear today. All this is because of the early days of music in the church!
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