Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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AFRICAN ' SONG.
9
going to do in war, such as bring back the head of the conquered king on. a stick. This same Gala in times of peace and in times of land-clearing leads a song, which, translated, runs thus:
Youthful tree!
We must cut all around it Gala's tree!
We must cut all around it Cawlaw, Cawlaw, Cawlaw, Cawlaw.
We must cut all around it.
Gala sings whate might be termed thg verse, setting the tempo for the strokes of the axes and in soft melodious chorus all |be chop�pers join, imitating as best they can the sound of the axes striking the tree, "Cawlaw, Cawlaw, Cawlaw, Cawlaw.77                           f
It is most likely that when this song is sung, four men are doing the cutting, since this number striking one after the other fits in exactly with the rhythm of the song. There must be other songs, however, to accommodate different numbers of choppers. The Kroo, from whom this information was gained, stated that three or four men surrounded a tree and cut it down.
Whether it be of war or of peace, the song the African sings is a gem of the melody of motion, full of human spirit, sometimes mild, sometimes wild, oftentimes bright with sublime flashes of poetry; at all times weird.
War Song.
O that Great Bird of War! Thou hast made this town silent.
They come, they come Creeping down low Among the tall grasses,
The enemy come.
The meaning of this song is clear. One tribe has destroyed the village of another and this apostrophetic lamentation bursts forth from the souls of the conquered.
Before going to war the Kroomen assemble to drink the palm wine five days old. It is an intoxicant and acts doubtless as all such drinks, exaggerating one7s idea of his own powers. The Kroos con�sider this intoxication a gift of physical power and courage from








E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III