Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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AFRO-AMERICAN FOLKSONGS
seemed to me pretty, but G. has put only two notes where I heard five distinctly." The nurse who sang for him was Louise Roche, "an old black woman of real African blood, an ex-slave having many tales of terror, suspected of voodooism, etc."
Much later (it was in 1885), when I was contemplating a cooperation with Mr, George W. Cable in the articles which he published in the "Century Magazine" for Feb­ruary and April, 1886, on Creole songs and dances, Hearn wrote:
I fear I know nothing about Creole music or Creole negroes. Yes, I have seen them dance; but they danced the Congo and sang a purely African song to the accompaniment of a drygoods box beaten with sticks or bones and a drum made by stretching a skin over a flour barrel. That sort of accompani­ment and that sort of music you know all about; it is precisely similar to what a score of travellers have described. There are no harmonies—only a furious contretemps. As for the dance—in which the women do not take their feet off the ground—it is as lascivious as is possible. The men dance very different­ly, like savages, leaping in the air. I spoke of this spectacle in my short article in the "Century." . . .
The Creole songs which I have heard sung in the city are Frenchy in construction, but possess a few African characteristics of method. The darker the singer, the more marked the oddities of intonation. Unfortunately, the most of those I have heard were quadroons or mulattoes. One black woman sang me a Voudoo song, which I got Cable to write—but I could not sing it as she sang it, so that the music is laulty. I suppose you have seen it already, as it forms part of the collection.
It was about this time (February, 1884, unless I am deceived by a postmark) that Hearn conceived the idea of a book on negro music, of which we were to be joint authors. He was to write "a long preface and occasional picturesque notes" to what he called my "learning and facts." He outlined what he would put in the preface: He would begin by treating of the negro's musical pat­riotism—"the strange history of the griots, who furnish so singular an example of musical prostitution, and who, though honored and petted on one way, are otherwise despised by their own people and refused rites of burial." Then he proposed to relate:
Something about the curious wanderings of these griots through the yellow desert northward into the Maghreb country, often a solitary wandering; their performances at Arab camps on the long journey, when the black slaves came out to listen and weep; then the hazardous voyage into Constantinople, where they play old Congo airs for the great black population of Stamboul, whom no laws or force can keep within doors when the sound of grioi music is heard in the street. Then I would speak of how the blacks carry their music
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III