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
billowy rising and falling. The Creole onomatopes, Flip-Vlip-bHip-Vlip, do not fully render the roll; for each stands really for a series of sounds too rapidly flipped out to be imitated by articulate sueech. The tapping of a ka can be heard at surprising distances; and experienced players often play for hours at a time without exhibiting wearisomeness, or in the least diminish­ing the volume of sound produced.
It seems that there are many ways of playing—different measures familiar to all these colored people, but not easily distinguished by anybody else; and there are great matches sometimes between celebrated tambovye. The same command? whose portrait I took while playing told me that he once figured in a contest of this kind, his rival being a drummer from the neighboring burgh of Marigot. ...
"Ate, ate, ate! mon che-—y fat tambou-a pale" said the commands, describing the execution of his antagonist; "my dear, he just made that drum talk! I thought I was going to be beaten for sure; I was trembling all the time— ate, yaie, yalel Then he got off that ka. I mounted it; I thought a moment; then I struck up the 'River-of-the-Lizard'—mats, mon eke, yon larivie-Leza toutt pi! such a 'River-of-the-Lizard,' ah! just perfectly pure! I gave heel to that ka;—I worried that ka; I made it mad; I made it crazy; I made it talk; I won!"
In Unyanebe, James Augustus Grant says, the large drum is played by the leader, while a youth apparently rattled a roll like the boy in Hearn's description. In my notebook I find a postcard, written by Hearn from New Orleans thirty years ago, which indicates that the manner of drumming described by Grant and also in the above excerpt was also common in Louisiana. Hearn writes: "The Voudoo, Congo and Caleinda dances had for orchestra the empty wooden box or barrel drum, the former making a dry, rapid rattle like castanets. The man sat astride the drum." Max Buchner1 says that the drummer in Kamerun does not beat the time, but a continuous roll, the time being marked by the songs of the spectators. An example of the harmonious drumming such as I heard in the Dahoman village is men­tioned by Hermann Wissmann in his book "Unter deut-scher Flagge durch Afrika,"2 who says that "when the chief of the Bashilange received the European visitors he was accompanied in his movements by a great drum with a splendid bass tone. When he declared friendship four well-tuned drums began to play, while the assembly sang a melody of seven tones, repeating it several times."8
The musical instruments used in Africa do not call for extended study or description here, since their structure
' "Kamerun," Leipsic, 1887, page 29.
' Berlin, 1889, page 72. Wallaschek, page 115.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III