Season 2, Episode 2
What happens, musically and spiritually, when a congregation sings gospel? How can we analyze music that moves not just the mind, but also the body and the soul? A conversation with Braxton D. Shelley, whose scholarship fuses theology and musicology to understand how musical techniques like vamps and “tuning up” lead to transcendent religious experiences.
Braxton D. Shelley is Stanley A. Marks and William H. Marks Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute and Assistant Professor of Music in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
If you’re interested in learning more about Professor Shelley’s work, you can follow him on Twitter at @BraxtonDShelley and check out:
- His book Healing for the Soul: Richard Smallwood, the Vamp, and the Gospel Imagination, out on April 20 with Oxford University Press
- His award-winning 2019 article “Analyzing Gospel,” in the Journal of the American Musicological Society
- His 2020 article “I Love It When You Play that Holy Ghost Chord”: Sounding Sacramentality in the Black Gospel Tradition,” in the journal Religions
Sound Expertise is hosted by Will Robin (@seatedovation), and produced by D. Edward Davis (@warmsilence). Please subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and/or Spotify. Questions or comments? Email williamlrobin@ gmail
A written transcript of this episode is available here; many thanks to Andrew Dell’Antonio for volunteering to prepare transcripts for the show!