Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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of things. Who can describe the feelings of the African slave as he beheld this great American civilization unfolding itself? What are the feelings of an infant as the big world gradually opens up itself? What would be the feelings of a black boy who had been born and reared in a cabin of the black belt, if suddenly he should be placed in the palace of a king? Compared to the feelings of the African in the presence of this new American civilization, these are as the gentle ripple on the calm bosom of the lake to the boisterous billows of the deep. All this feeling of the African's awe was injected into that little flat seven, America's contribution to the Negro's scale.
The conditions and experiences which put this wild, strange note into the being of the American Negro, must have been supremely overpowering. They must have cut their way into the very springs of his life, for their influence is abiding. Careful investigation has shown that Negroes born since freedom who have made no study of the Folk Song, in fact, know nothing technical about it, will often unconsciously strike this note in songs in which it is not supposed to occur. While they are singing for the simple joy of it, that note will frequently peal out with its weirdness.
The Folk Song of the American Negro, then, is characterized by the elements of religion, rhythm, syncopation, spontaneity, and the sexatonic scale with the flat seven expressing surprise and the ab�sence of any feeling of hatred or revenge.

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