Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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The Language of the Afro-American Folksongs
Phonetic Changes in EnglishGrammar of the
Creole PatoisMaking French Compact
and MusicalDr. Mercier's Pamphlet
Creole Love-Songs
The circumstance that the folksongs of the slaves were preserved by oral tradition alone until nearly fifty years ago, when the first collection was printed, gives peculiar interest to a study of their language—or rather their languages, for the songs of the black Creoles of Louisiana and the Antilles are also American folksongs, though they are sung in French patois and not in English. In both cases a fundamental phenomenon confronts us: The slave had to make the language in which he communicated with his master, or rather he had to reconstruct it orally without the help of written or printed books. Having made his patois, he forgot his own native tongue and per­petuated the new medium of communication in the same way in which he had learned and perpetuated the African language. After this had been done and the new tongue had become to him a vehicle for his rude artistic utter­ances, those utterances had to be retained by tradition and transmitted by word of mouth entirely. This brought with it a phenomenon with which students of ballads are familiar—the corruptions of texts due to the habit of accept­ing sound for sense. The slaves of the States in which the masters spoke English, under Protestant influences, heard the Biblical expressions which appealed powerfully to their imagination and emotions from their preachers, some of whom were as illiterate as the multitude they sought to enlighten. They heard their masters use many words of which they could only surmise the meaning, but which also appealed to them as resounding and mouth-filling. Like
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III