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You Got Ta Move!
Arranged by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory
Series Editor: Judith Willoughby
Catalog number: AMP 0633
”You Got Ta Move” is a traditional spiritual from the praise houses on the barrier islands that dot the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. The Sea Islands were (are) the home of a unique Afrożbased culture whose language (a Creole dialect known as Gullah), lore, and customs retained more traditional African elements than corresponding mainland cultures due to geographic isolation. Bridges to most of these islands were not built until well into the twentieth century.
The song's text refers overtly to holy dances, such as the ring shout, which were intrinsic to worship experiences on the Sea Islands.
In its original context, “You Got Ta Move” would have been performed without instrumental accompaniment, in a call and response style. It would begin at a slow, somber tempo, and then heat up with an accelerando and the introduction of frenetic clapping. (In general, clapping that accompanies sacred music on the Sea Islands bears striking similarities to complex drumming patterns from West Africa.) As the music heightens in intensity, individual singers would become ecstatic, stepping forward for brief interludes of solo dancing. This tradition, as well, reaches back to Africa. It is notably similar to West African custom and is found among practitioners of the Yorubażbased Santeria religion in Cuba.
Our concert arrangement attempts to honor and increase awareness of the Gullah culture, which has been threatened to the point of near-extinction by real estate developers along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. But our “heat up” section, beginning with the entrance of the narrator, looks forward to more contemporary expressions of ecstasy...which are, in the electronic age, as well-known on the Sea Islands as they are everywhere else.
We have taken great care to be as clear as possible about issues of dialect. The phrase “got to” is sometimes pronounced “got-ta,” with a crisp T. Other times it is pronounced “god-da,” depending on how it appears in the rhythmic structure of the tune. Inconsistencies are deliberate.
Because this arrangement was created for a junior high school honor choir, the range of the baritone part is limited.
Finally, measures 120-145 are rap. They may be omitted. If performed, they should be supported by appropriate percussion, created either electronically or through the use of djembes. The percussion should enter discreetly at the meter change (measure 112), becoming more pronounced and complex during the rap (measures 120-145). The percussion may continue through the end of the piece, but should pull back at measure 146 in order not to compete with the vocal parts.
Choral conductors should not teach the rap section without first listening to examples of the style. A familiarity with the vocal timbre and inflection of rap is crucial.
Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory
performance by the 2006 Eastern Division ACDA Junior High School Honor Choir
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