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SNAKE SONG NO. 1                                    75
Argument. The partition of the base of the triad g-c produces a tritonus, g-cd, which is obviated by expansion of the triad to ga-c, revealed again by subsidence, again obviated, again revealed, and finally done away with by reintegration of the base.
This song consists of an introduction, A1 Bl, followed by a complex rhythm of six segments, B2------r2, once repeated, B5------r4. The move­ment begins as a salient subminor triad, the main feature of the rhythm being the immediate change of this combination to a minor triad (sketched in B2, carried out in the repetition B5), which is successively augmented and reconstituted upon a basal note constant throughout except for an occasional and itself rhythmical sharping by a sixth tone. Simultaneously, in the salient thirds at the close of the B's, the basal note is duplicated, one representative sharing in the semitone rise of the interior note, and forming a tritonus with the summit note except during the sharping of this latter. In the r's before the augmented interval (also B2 and r2) the interior note is temporarily raised a semi­tone higher still.
This change of form is not properly modulation, since the basal note persists. It is a disaggregation of structure, in this case brought about and repaired in two steps. Out of the minor triad into which the sub-minor of the introduction immediately changes, the duplication of the basal note forms a tritonus. The original subminor triad supervenes and frees the texture of this unnatural interval. Upon the relaxation of the summit note the tritonus reappears, until in the final movement of the song in r4 the two basal notes coalesce to replace the minor triad in which the rhythm began.
This rhythm passed unnoticed by the unaided ear, which recognized no fifths at all in the song proper, and went quite astray in grasping the r's. The result is inelastic and vapid, the musical point of the song being wholly missed. It is possible that in other renditions the same singer or others would betray other intentions within a recognized identity of musical structure. The notable feature of the present per­formance is the close repetition of a change in form which, to the scalar musical consciousness, appears fluid and lawless.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III