The Evolution of Gospel Music

Gospel music in my opinion is the greatest music in the world because of the message behind the music.  I do believe many times that people consider gospel music to be gospel music because of how it sounds. I am of the opinion that gospel music can have a vast range of possibilities in terms of the sound, chords, progressions, rhythm, and etc. The world around us is constantly changing and so is the music that we play.

For example, what one considers to be gospel music now does not sound like what people expected gospel music to sound like 100 years ago.

 CLICK HERE to hear what at one time was considered modern music.  “Wade In The Water”

I believe that there are so many relevant styles and approaches to music that can be applied to gospel music.  I was a jazz major in college and I learned about so many different jazz artists that helped to shape the genre of music in which they were classified. One common denominator among musicians that made a huge impact in music was the fact that those musicians were always looking for something fresh and new.  These people caused the music to evolve and change.  Many times people didn’t like change and rejected the new styles and sounds that these musicians were introducing. Below is the same song “Wade In The Water” with a more modern arrangement.

Music is constantly changing and evolving.

I am an advocate for studying various styles of music and incorporating different sounds and approaches to gospel music. I would like to reiterate that I believe what makes gospel music gospel music is the message of the music, not necessarily the chords or the beat of the song.

As time continues to go by the chords and beats that we use will evolve as musicians explore various ways of playing and arranging music to the message of the gospel that we love.

I would encourage you to think outside of the box and explore various styles of music for the sake of educating yourself about how the music works and what makes it sound the way that it does. I am a big jazz fan and I would like to share with you some of the people that I have studied over the years that I believe has helped to shape my playing and my personal approach to gospel music.

In no particular order:

Bill Evans  – Piano  (Chord Voicings, Chord Progressions)

Oscar Peterson -Piano  (Improvisation)

Phenias Newborn Jr. – Piano  (Improvisation)

James Williams – Piano   (Chord Voicings)

Art Tatum – Piano  (Stride Rag Time Piano)

Mycoy Tyner – Piano  (4th Chords, Playing Outside of Keys)

Herbie Hancock – Piano  (Dissonant and Abstract Chord Voicings)

Charlie Parker – Saxophone  (Improvisation)

Cannonball Adderley – Saxophone  (Improvisation, Articulation, and Tone)

Stretch yourself and reinvent yourself musically. There is so much to learn, so why not get started today! I would encourage you to check out some of my favorites on Youtube.

I would love to continue this discussion further. Make a comment or ask a questions.

KH