North America Indian Story & Song - online book

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The creation of that which we know as musical form seems also to be due to the influence of story upon song. We have already noted how the direc­tive emotion started the distinctive rythm and de­termined the order of the related tones, and so con­structed the motive or theme. But neither the rythm nor the simple motive could express the movement of the dramatic story: hence we find this expressed by the repetition, modification, and varia­tion of the motive, the growth of the phrase, the formation of the clause, and the grouping of clauses into a period,— in fact, the outline of the form upon which all our culture music is built. Culture music, however, shows an intellectual control of emotion, a power of musical thinking, the enlarging and embellishing of musical form, — a form, never­theless, which we find outlined, more or less clearly, in the songs of the untutored red man. The differ­ence between these spontaneous Indian melodies and the compositions of the modern masters would seem to be not one of kind, but one of degree.
As these songs are from a race practically without musical instruments,— for the drum and rattle were used only to accentuate rythm, — they are repre­sentative of the period when the human voice was
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