Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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AFRO-AMERICAN FOLKSONGS
is not sufficient to authorize such a statement as a scientific fact. I make room for one, "Tant sirop est doux," an erotic song from Martinique, which M. Tiersot says is widely known among French colonies inhabited by the blacks.
The origin of the Habanera is perpetuated in its name, and in this respect it stands alone. Other dances of which writers on the Antilles have made mention are the Bam' boula, Bouene, Counjai (or Counjaille), Calinda (or Calien-da, possibly from the Spanish Que Undo), Bele (from the French bel air), Benguine, Babouille, Cata (or Chata) and Guiouba. The last word seems preserved in the term"juba," which is now applied to the patting accompaniments of negro dance-songs made familiar by the old minstrel shows. The word Congo, as applied to a negro dance which is still remembered in Louisiana, is, I fancy, a generic term there, though it is also used in French Guiana for a dance called Chica in Santo Domingo and the Windward Islands. The Bamboula is supposed to have been so called after the drum of bamboo, which provided its musical stimulus. An African word seems to lie at the bottom of the term Counjai. Long years ago Lafcadio Hearn wrote me from New Orleans: "My quadroon neighbor, Mamzelle Eglantine, tells me that the word Koundjo (in the West Indies Candio or Candjo) refers to an old African dance which used to be danced with drums." Perhaps some such meaning is preserved in the Song "Criole Candjo." (See page 118.)
The etymology of the other terms baffles me, but it is of no consequence in this study; the dances were all alike in respect of the savage vigor and licentiousness which marked their performance. "The Calinda," say the editors of "Slave Songs of the United States," "was a sort of contradance which has now passed entirely out of use." Bescherelles describes the two lines as "avangant et reculant en cadence et faisant des contortions fort singulieres et des gestes fort lascifs." It is likely that the Calinda disappeared from Louisiana as a consequence of the prohibition of the dances in the Place Congo in New Orleans, about 1843;
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III