Folk Song Of The American Negro - Online Book

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varied interpretations of the same songs. Ofttimes there is a real musical contest, which is certain to bring forth a large number of songs. These songs, however, lose much of their character when taken out of their settings. Certain intonations and a certain inex�plicable something imparted by those in whose hearts they were born, can never be reproduced otherwise or represented by musical notation. Another method employed is to find out some expert in the knowledge and art of this music, and tactfully request him to sing the songs to be copied. There is in every locality of this kind, one person, or perhaps two, from whom many of these melodies may be obtained. Success in this method is a variable quantity, for some�times just as soon as it is learned that some teacher or student is present for the purpose of learning these songs, the memory of the singer goes wrong or leaves him, his voice is all out of fix, or his lungs refuse to work and his tongue cleaves to the roof of his mouth. Yes, this or even worse than this is often the case. Under these cir�cumstances it takes all the tact available to get one single note, and most often there is absolute failure. Sometimes, after the first shock has subsided the singer will make copious excuses, close his eyes and begin, and very likely the visitor will get a sufficiency long before the singer decides to cease his song. Sometimes the eyes are not closed, but are viewing the visitor askance, in an effort to detect an indication of insincerity. Another person when asked to sing, will "sail right in" and give what is asked for.
These trips on the hunt for songs are always extremely interest�ing, and often open up a new world to the searcher. Such rare truths are learned, such uplifting knowledge gained, such beautiful voices, such touching sympathies, such noble hearts, such simple and child�like faith, such attractive and expressive features are met, that the visitor is convinced that the Creator has made a fair and just dis�tribution of his blessings.
Another method is to canvass among the students. As a rule there is always a considerable number of students who come from the localities where this music is current, and who are almost always glad to make any possible contribution in this matter.
The formation of clubs for the study of this music is a naost ef�fective method for collecting and preserving it. It both interests and instructs, and is the one place where reproduction is truest to nature; for with such singers as are naturally selected for these

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