Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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AFRO-AMERICAN FOLKSONGS
liches Lied. This body of song embraces all vocal com­positions which have come to be so fondly liked, loved, admired by the people that they have become a native and naive popular utterance. So generous, indeed, is the term that it embraces not only the simple songs based on genuine folksong texts which musicians have set to music, and the large number of artistic compositions which imi­tate the sentiment and structure of folksongs, but also many lyrics made with conscious art by eminent composers. In the family circles of Germany and at popular gatherings one may hear not only Silcher's setting of "Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz" (which is music set by an artist to a folkpoem), but the same composer's melody to "Ich weiss nicht, was soil es bedeuten" (an artificial folkpoem by Heine), Weber's "Wir winden dir den Jungfernkranz" and Schubert's "Am Brunnen vor dem Thore" (which are ar­tistic products in conception and execution). The English term "popular song" might well and properly be used as a synonym for the German term and be applied to the 6ame kind of songs in English without prejudice to the scientific "folksong," were it not for its degraded and de­grading association with the vulgar music hall ditties. These ditties, which a wise Providence has cursed with the blessing of transientness, have companionship in this study with the so-called "coon songs" and "ragtime tunes" in which some of the elements of the Afro-American folksongs are employed.
Only because I cannot see how a paraphrase would im­prove it in respect of sententiousness, clearness or compre­hensiveness, I make use of a definition which I wrote a decade ago for "The Musical Guide"—a dictionary of terms and much else edited by Rupert Hughes and pub­lished by McClure, Phillips & Co.:
Folksong is not popular song in the sense in which the word is most fre­quently used, but the song of the folk; not only the song admired of the people but, in a strict sense, the song created by the people. It is a body of poetry and music which has come into existence without the influence of conscious art, as a spontaneous utterance, filled with characteristic expression of the feelings of a people. Such songs are marked by certain peculiarities of rhythm, form and melody which, are traceable, more or less clearly, to racial (or national) temperament, modes of life, cliinatic and political conditions, geographical
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III