Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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centuries, there was originally no affinity of race between them and their conquerors. Their origin is in doubt, but it is supposed that they are Mongols and therefore relatives of the Magyars. The influence of the Swedes upon their culture began in the twelfth century, when Christianity was forced upon them, and it has never ceased, though Sweden was compelled by the allied powers to cede Finland to Russia in 1809. Now Russia, though she signed a solemn pact to permit the liberty of language, education and religion to the Finns, is engaged in stamping out the last vestiges of nationalism in the country so beautifully called Suomi by its people.
The active cultivation of music as an art in the modern sense began in Finland toward the close of the eighteenth century, and the composers, directors and teachers were either Germans or Scandinavians educated in Germany. The artistic music of the Finns, therefore, is identified as closely as possible with that of the Scandinavian people, though it has of late received something of a Russian im­press; but the vigor and power of primitive influences is attested by the unmistakable elements in the Finnish folksongs. The ancient Finns had the Northern love for music, and their legendary Orpheus was even a more picturesque and potent theurgist than the Greek. His name was Wainamoinen, and when he
—tuned his lyre with pleasing woe, Rivers forgot to run, and winds to blow; While listening^ forests covered, as he played, The soft musician in a moving shade.
To Wainamoinen was attributed the invention of the kantele, a harp which originally had five strings tuned to the notes which, as has been said, are the basis of the Finnish songs, especially those called runo songs, which are still sung. The five-four time which modern composers are now affecting (as is seen in the second movement of Tschaikowsky's "Pathetic" symphony) is an element of the meter of the national Finnish epic, the "Kalevala," whence Longfellow borrowed it for his American epic, "Hiawatha." It, too, is found in many runo songs.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III