Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Coupon Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB



Previous Contents Next
CHAPTER VI
VARIATIONS FROM THE MAJOR SCALE
Peculiarities of Negro SingingVagueness of Pitch
in Certain IntervalsFractional Tones in
Primitive Music—The Pentatonic Scale—The
Flat SeventhHarmonization of Negro
Melodies
Of the 527 songs examined I have set down in my table 331 as being in the major mode. To these, as emphasizing the essentially energetic and contented character of Afro-American music, notwithstanding that it is the fruit of slavery, must be added in which are pentatonic- Of the 331 major songs twenty, or a trifle more than one-sixteenth, have a flat seventh; seventy-eight—that is, one fourth—have no seventh, and forty-five, or nearly one-seventh, have no fourth. Fourth and seventh are the tones which are lacking in the pentatonic scale, and the songs without one or the other of them approach the pentatonic songs in what may be called their psychological effect. These are the only variations of the major scale which can be set down as characteristic of the songs. In the case of the songs in the minor mode, eight, a fraction under one-eighth, have a major sixth; over one-half have no sixth at all, and over one-third have the leading-tone (major seventh), which is not an element of the minor scale proper, but with the major sixth has been admitted through the use of accidentals to what musicians call the harmonic minor scale. In the case of twenty-three songs I have set down the mode as mixed or vague, because the scales do not conform to either the major or minor system, but, in part, to both, or have elements which are obviously sporadic.
It is necessary for a correct understanding of the nature of negro songs that the testimony of the collectors touch-
[ 70 ]
Previous Contents Next







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III