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Spiritual, form of emotional, often sorrowful, religious folk song using syncopation, a variety of rhythms, and the pentatonic scale (5 whole tones). It usually consists of a number of verses for solo voice, often with biblical text, and a rhythmic choral refrain. Originally though to have been developed solely by African-American slaves and their descendants in the southern United States, it is now believed to be a form that combined African musical systems with those of 19th-century white Southerners (i.e., revival meeting songs).

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Sour gum to Stereotyping