Afro-American Folksongs - online book

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

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sing the Devil and his chorus. His chant is cavernous, abysmal—booms from his chest like the sound beaten in the bottom of a well. . . "Ti manmaille-la, baill motn lavoix!" ("Give me voice, little folk, give me voice.") And all chant after him in a chanting like the rushing of many waters and with triple clapping of hands: "Ti manmaxlle-la haul moin lavoixP9. . . Then he halts before a dwelling in the Rue Peysette and thunders: "Eh! Marie-sans-dent! Mi! diabe-la derhoP9
That is evidently a piece of spite work; there is somebody living there against whom he has a grudge. . .
"Hey! Marie-without-teethI Look! The Devil is outside!"
And the chorus catch the clew.
Devil: "Eh! Marie-sans-dent!"
Chorus: "Marie-sans-dent! Mi! diabe-la derhoP9
Devil: "Eh! Marie-sans-dent!99
Chorus: "Marie-sans-dent! Mi! diabe-la derhoP9
Devil "Eh! Marie-sans-dent!" etc.
The Devil at last descends to the main street, always singing the same song. I follow the chorus to the Savanna, where the route makes for the new bridge over the Roxelane, to mount the high streets of the old quarter of the Fort, and the chant changes as they cross over:
Devil: "OH oue diabe-la 'passe larivieV9 ("Where did you see the Devil going over the river?") And all the boys repeat the words, falling into another rhythm with perfect regularity and ease: "OH oue diabe-la passe larivieV9
February 22d. Old physicians indeed predicted it, but who believed them?
February 23d. A coffin passes, balanced on the heads of black men. It holds the body of Pascaline Z., covered with quicklime.
It is thus that the satirical songs are made in Martinique, thus-that they are disseminated. Latin civilization is less cruel to primitive social institutions than Anglo-Saxon— less repressive and many times more receptive. Some­times it takes away little and gives much, as it has done with African music transplanted to its new environment. It has lent the charm of graceful melody to help make the sting of Creole satire the sharper; but through the white ve­neer the black savagery sometimes comes crashing to pro­claim its mastery in servitude. So in the case of the song "Loema tombe"; so also in "Marie-Clemence." (See p. 148.) The latter is a carnival song which, if Heam was correctly informed, was only four years old when he sent it to me. It is a fine illustration of that sententious dramaticism which is characteristic of folk-balladry the world over— that quick, direct, unprepared appeal to the imaginative
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