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264 The National Music of America.
Has America also a folk-song ? Certain circumstances have militated against the creation of it. Just as music is often the offspring of sorrow, so prosperity often obliterates the marked types of existence which culminate in folk-song. England's folk-songs meant something while the yeomanry and peasantry were well-defined types; when commercial prosperity made the mother-country one of the most powerful nations of the earth, its folk-song began to decay.
America is handicapped in the production of folk-song both by its business activity and by the fact that it is a gathering of many nations who are not yet amalgamated into a distinct type; at best its folk-songs are sectional rather than national; the life of the West, the South, the North, each presents a different phase which would produce different music, — if it produced any.
But the North (the Eastern and Middle States) is too definitely commercial to reflect