Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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MUSIC AMONG THE AFRICANS
All was fish that came to the slaver's net. Among the Moors brought to America were men who professed the Mahometan religion and read and wrote Arabic. It is not impossible that to their influence in this country, or at any rate to Moorish influence upon the tribes which furnished the larger quota of American slaves, is due one of the aberrations from the diatonic scale which is indi­cated in the table—the presence of the characteristically Oriental interval called the augmented or superfluous second. Among the peoples who crowded the plantations were Meens, who were of the hue of the so-called red men of America— i. '., copper-colored. There were also Iboes, who had tattooed yellow skins. It does not seem to be possible now to recall all the names of the tributary tribes— Congos, Agwas, Popos, Cotolies, Feedas, Socos, Awassas, Aridas, Fonds, Nagos;—who knows now how they differed one from another, what were their peculiarities of language and music which may have affected the song which they helped to create in their second home? We must, per­force, generalize when discussing the native capacity for music of the Africans.
Sir Richard Francis Burton, in his book on West Africa, says of the music of the Kroomen that "it is monotonous to a degree, yet they delight in it, and often after a long and fatiguing day's march will ask permission to 'make play' and dance and sing till midnight. When hoeing the ground they do it to the sound of music; in fact, every­thing is cheered with a song. The traveller should never forget to carry a tom-tom or some similar instrument, which will shorten his journey by a fair quarter." In his "Lake Region of Central Africa" (page 291) Burton describes the natives of East Africa as "admirable timists and no mean tunists." Wallaschek (page 140), citing Moodie,1 says: "Another still more striking example of the Hottentots' musical talent was related to Moodie by a German officer. When the latter happened to plqy that beautifully pathetic air of Gluck's, 'Che faro senza Euridice,' on his violin, he was surprised to observe that he was listened to by some
1 "Ten Years in South Africa," by John W. D. Moodie, page 228.
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