Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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Jeannette Robinson Murphy. In a personal letter to the writer, dated July 16, 1913, Miss Emily Hallowell says of her book:
I have always thought that the time would come when some student would find the "Calhoun Collection" of greater service than most of the other publications, for two reasons: As far as my ability allowed they were written precisely as they were sung, while in most collections they have been arranged for ordinary quartet singing; and as the peopleof Calhoun are so much more remote than in most localities, their singing in 1900 was almost exactly as it was before the war. . . . I got most of the songs from young people, too young to remember slavery, but I have heard many of them sung by the old people, and the melodies were the same, but the harmonies I have written were afi taken from the pupils in the Calhoun school. The old people's harmonies seem to arise from each holding to their own version of the melodies or from limitation of compass.
I have cited instances of the employment of harmony in Africa?. In my notebook I find an interesting example, which I obtained from Mr. George L. White, teacher and manager of the Jubilee Singers after their return from their memorable trip to Germany in 1877. It is a hymn which Dr. Wangemann heard sung, with great effect, as he testified, by a congregation of three hundred Kaffirs ia a Presbyterian mission in Emgravali. Its composition was attributed to a Kaffir named U-Utrikana, the first member of his tribe to embrace Christianity, who became a sort of black Sankey and travelled all over his country as a singing evangelist. "He was honored as a prophet by his people," wrote Dr. Wangemann on the transcript of the hymn which he made from memory for Mr. White. What the words mean I do not know, but musically the song consists of two solos and refrains, the solos sung in unison, the refrains in full harmony, consisting of the tonic and dominant triads. As a rule, the songs of the Afro-Americans are so obviously built on a harmonic basis and show so plainly the influence of civilized music that I have no doubt the majority of them were sung in simple harmony— at least the refrains. The phrases containing the "wild notes," as I call them, were just as certainly sung in unison and are most effective when left without har­mony, as is the rule (though I have made a few exceptions) in this collection.
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