Afro-American Folksongs - online book

A Study In Racial And National Music, With Sample Sheet Music & Lyrics.

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PREFACE
visit to America in the winter and spring of 1905-1906.
A few months ago a book entitled "Musik, Tanz und Dichtung bei den Kreolen Amerikas," by Albert Frie-denthal, was published in Berlin. M.Tiersot concerned him­self chiefly with the Indians, though he made some keen observations on the music of the black Creoles of Louisi­ana, and glanced also at the slave songs, for which he formed a sincere admiration; the German folklorist treated of negro music only as he found it influencing the dances of the people of Mexico, Central America, South America and the West Indies.
The writer of this book, therefore, had to do the work of a pioneer, and as such will be satisfied if he shall succeed in making a clearing in which successors abler than he shall work hereafter.                    .
The scope of my inquiry 'and the method which I have pursued may be set forth as follows:
1.    First of all it shall be determined what are folksongs, and whether or not the songs in question conform to a scientific definition in respect of their origin, their melodic and rhythmical characteristics and their psychology.
2.    The question, "Are they American?" shall be answered.
3.    Their intervallic, rhythmical and structural elements will be inquired into and an effort be made to show that, while their combination into songs took place in this country, the essential elements came from Africa; in other words, that, while some of the material is foreign, the product is native; and, if native, then American.
4.    A11 effort will be made to disprove the theory which has been frequently advanced that the songs are not original creations of the slaves, but only the fruit of the negro's innate faculty for imitation. It will be shown that some of the melodies have peculiarities of scale and structure which could not possibly have been copied from the music which the blacks were privileged to hear on the plantations or anywhere else during the period of slavery. Correspondence will be disclosed, however, between these peculiarities and elements observed by travellers in African countries.
5.    This will necessitate an excursion into the field of primitive African music and also into the philosophy underlying the conservation of savage music. Does it follow that, because the American negroes have forgotten the language of their savage ancestors, they have also forgotten all of their music? May relics of that music not remain in a subconscious memory?
6.    The influences of the music of the dominant peoples with whom the slaves were brought into contact upon the rude art of the latter will have to be looked into and also the reciprocal effect upon each other; and thus the character and nature of the hybnd art found in the Creole songs and dances of Louisiana will be disclosed.
To make the exposition and arrangement plain, I shall illustrate them by musical examples. African music will
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