Negro Folk Rhymes Wise & Otherwise - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION
He saw the sweet pinks under a blue sky, or ob­served the fading violets and the roses that fall, as he passed to a tryst under the oak trees of a forest, and wrought these things into his songs of love and tenderness. Friendless and otherwise without com­panionship he lived in imagination with the beasts and birds of the great out-of-doors; he knew per­sonally Mr. Coon, Brother Rabbit, Mr. 'Possum and their associates of the wild; Judge Buzzard and Sister Turkey appealed to his fancy as offering ma­terial for what he supposed to be poetic treatment. Wherever he might find anything in his lowly posi­tion which seemed to him truly useful or beautiful, he seized upon it and wove about it the sweetest song he could sing. The result is not so much poetry of a high order as a valuable illustration of the persistence of artist-impulses even in slavery.
In some of these folk-songs, however, may be found certain qualities which give them dignity and worth. They are, when properly presented, rhyth­mical to the point of perfection. I myself have heard many of them chanted with and without the accompaniment of clapping hands, stamping feet, and swaying bodies. Unfortunately a large part of their liquid melody and flexibility of movement is lost through confinement in cold print; but when
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