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SONG AND DANCE AMONG THE INDIANS
The Song
While studying Indian life and thought through the sharing, as far as possible, of native conditions, I dis­covered Indian music. In the loneliness that naturally belonged to my circumstances this discovery was like finding a flower hidden in a tangle hard to penetrate. I had heard Indians "singing," but the noise of the drum, the singers' stress of voice, so overlaid the little song that its very existence was not even suspected. Cir­cumstances at length arose, incident to my convalescence after a long illness, when, to give me pleasure, my Indian friends came and sang softly to me, without the drum. Great was my surprise to hear music; to be told that I was listening to the same songs that the earnest men and women had previously sung but which for me had been buried under a tumultuous din. Thenceforth my ears were opened and never again, no matter how confusing the conditions, did I fail to catch the hidden melody. As my appreciation of the value of Indian music grew, I determined to gather and to preserve these wild flowers of song. I wanted them not merely as a contribution to the study of music but that they might help to vi­brate the chords that belong to a common humanity.
Of the songs I heard in solitude, some were published over thirty years ago. Since then many of my gleaning have been used by different composers and the musical message sent far and wide.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III