Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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20                      FOLK SONG OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO.
the "shouting" Negro stand? Look around and see. What good has he wrought? Has he not abounded in good works? Who laid the foundation of our religious and educational life ? Who gave and still is giving to support all the uplifting agencies of our life? Who has lived more strictly up to the standard of love and sacrifice? Who founded our Christian homes ? Whose faith has ever been stronger; whose prayers more effective ? Whose courage greater ? Whose labor more productive? Whose religion has had severer tests? Whose religion has come forth from these tests more triumphantly? An�swers to these questions will draw one up face to face with the con�clusion that our untutored Negro mothers and fathers who praised and are still praising God in loud "Glories" and hallelujahs did praise and still praise Him also in spirit and in truth.
All phases of his regeneration are expressed in his new song, and that is why the world loves to hear him sing. He sings life. His song is new in thought and spirit. It chants new life. The vehicle, save one small, weird part, is as old as the African himself. This vehicle, the framework of his musical creation, has remained ever the same, and even the new life, though powerful, has not been able to change it. Africa fashioned the body, but America breathed into it the breath of Life.
No influence has been able to change the predominant feature of the melody. The employment of certain notes to form his scale, the arrangements of these notes to gain certain idiomatic effects, the general mould, consisting of verse and chorus, with variations and its perfect rhythm, all of which suggest the term "form" remain essentially the same. The American Negro, however, has wrought some development into this form. He has, because of an intelligence superior to that of his African brother, evolved some more beautiful tunes by more effective arrangements of the notes of his scale. He has added strength to the melody and, in some degree, has polished and refined some of the barbaric tendencies. The most striking de�velopment has been the use of syncopation to which the American Negro has given such charm that a contagion of syncopation has spread and taken strong hold upon the music of today. Any further development in this direction would seem impossible; certainly, if it could be done, it would be insufferable. But its present use is the great contribution of America to Negro melody.

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