Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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CHARACTERISTICS AND PECULIARITIES,              . 39
creators of these songs have resorted ingeniously to the use of a nameless little something represented by the letter "A,"' thereby add�ing a subtle force to the song in which it is employed.
In that beautiful hymn "Lord, I Want to be a Christian/' we find in the refrain instead of "In my heart/'�"In-a-my heart." In "Good News/' we find, "I don't want-her leave-a-me behind." In "Judgment Day/' we find, "Judg-a-ment, Jud-a-ment, Judg-a-ment day is a-roll-ing around." In "Oh, Bocks, Don't Fall on Me/' we find, "Tn-a-that great judgment day." This extra syllable was used much more gen�erally in the past than now. Its use is now confined to th'o$e who have survived from ante-bellum days and to those who live in the rural districts. Those in the cities and schools are paying less and less attention to it. Time is working a change. Has rhythm, this perfect beauty in movement, any real importance in creation? The rhythm of the planets as they encircle each other with paths of light; the rhythm of the seasons as they follow each other, each bringing its own peculiar beauty and life suggest at least that rhythm is an important principle in creation, and is essential to the harmony of the universe. That the life of the Negro is rhythmic is an uncommon blessing. It is an ever-increasing wealth of happiness.
Another peculiarity is the common and surprising use of ejacula�tions at the dictates of feeling. Such ejaculations take the form of "0 Lord!" "Hallelujah!" "O Yes!" "SSing!" "Sing it, children," and are usually thrown in by the leader, but oftentimes by others, just as the spirit moves; but by whomever it is interjected there is no vio�lence done to the rhythm, and the effect is electrical. Sometimes such an expression, though extemporaneous and spontaneous, is so fitting and effective that it becomes a part of the song. The particu�lar one of these that is the most effective is the single word "sing.'? It is a sharp spur to the singers. On one occasion, while in chapel exercises at Fisk, the students were singing in a purposeless manner the song, "I Want to be Beady"�the leader in the genuine Negro way, without harming the rhythm, shouted, "Sing!" With a sparkle in every eye, with a buoyancy supreme, that student body burst forth with such a volume of spirited song as is seldom permitted one to hear more than once in a lifetime�in harmony like a well-attunedi organ, in power like the rushing of many waters.
Another peculiarity is a certain subtle effect which only the true "Jubilee Voice" can produce. This is indescribable, for it consists-








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