Negro Folk Rhymes Wise & Otherwise - online book

A detailed study of Negro folk music, includes lyrics & sheet music samples.

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INTRODUCTION
Being the expression of a race in, or just emerging from bondage, these songs may at first seem to some readers trivial and almost wholly devoid of literary merit. In phraseology they may appear crude, lacking in that elegance and finish ordinarily associated with poetic excellence; in imagery they are at times exceedingly winter-starved, mediocre, common, drab, scarcely ever rising above the un­happy environment of the singers. The outlook upon life and nature is, for the most part, one of imaginative simplicity and child-like naivete; super­stitions crowd in upon a worldly wisdom that is elementary, practical, and obvious; and a warped and crooked human nature, developed and fostered by circumstances, shews frequently thrpugh the lines. What else might: be expected ? At the time when these rhymes were in process of being created the conditions under which the American Negro lived and labored were not calculated to inspire him with a desire for the highest artistic expression. Re­stricted, cramped, bound in unwilling servitude, he looked about him in his miserable little world to see whatever of the beautiful or happy he might find; that which he discovered \s pathetically slight, but, such as it is, it served to keep alive his stunted artist-soul under the most adverse circumstances.
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