Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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RELIGIOUS CHARACTER OF THE SONGS
with them to Persia and even to mysterious Hadramant, where their voices are held in high esteem by Arab masters. Then I would touch upon the transplantation of negro melody to the Antilles and the two Americas, where its strangest black flowers are gathered by the alchemists of musical science and the perfume thereof extracted by magicians like Gottschalk. (How is that for a beginning?)
Having advanced thus far Hearn proposed to show a relation between physiology and negro music, and he put upon me the burden of finding out whether or not the negro's vocal cords were differently formed and "capable of longer vibrations" than those of white people. He had been led into this branch of the subject by the observation, which he found in some book, that the blood of the Afri­can black "has the highest human temperature known— equal to that of the swallow—though it loses that fire in America." I must have been lukewarm in the matter of the project which he outlined with great enthusiasm, despairing, as naturally a sobersided student of folk-music who believed in scientific methods would, of being able to make the physical data keep pace with so riotous an imagination as that of my fantastical friend. I did not even try to find a colored subject for the dissecting table or ask for a laryngoscopical examination of the vocal cords of the "Black Patti." His enthusiasm and method in our joint work are strikingly illustrated in another part of the same letter. As has been intimated, we were looking for unmistakable African relics in the Creole songs of Louisiana:
Here is the only Creole song I know of with an African refrain that is still sung—don't show it to C, it is one of our treasures. (Pronounce "wenday," "makkiah.")
Ouende, ouende, mac ay a!
Mo pas barrasse, mac ay a! Ouende, ouende, mac ay a/
Mo bois bon divin, mac ay a! Ouende, ouende, macayal
Mo mange bon poulet, macayal Ouende, ouende, macayal
Mo pas barrasse, macayal Ouende, ouende, macayal Macayal
I wrote from the dictation of Louise Roche. She did not know the meaning of the refrain—her mother had taught her, and the mother had learned it from the grandmother. However, I found out the meaning, and asked her if she now remembered. She leaped in the air for joy—apparently. Ouendai, or ouende, has a different meaning in the eastern Soudan; but in the Congo, or Fiot, dialect it means "to go," "to continue to," "to go on." I found the
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III