Negro Folk Rhymes Wise & Otherwise - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION
I told her dat I love' her, Dat my love wus bed-cord strong; Den I axed her w'en she'd have me, An' she jes' say, "Go 'long!"
There is also a dramatic quality about many of these rhymes which must not be overlooked. It has long been my observation that the Negro is possessed by nature of considerable, though not as yet highly developed, histrionic ability; he takes delight in acting out in pantomime whatever he may be relating in song or story. It is not sur­prising, then, to find that the play-rhymes, originat­ing from the "call" and "response," are really little dramas when presented in their proper set­tings. "Caught By The Witch" would not be in­effective if, on a dark night, it were acted in the vicinity of a graveyard! And one ballad—if I may be permitted to dignify it by that name—called "Promises of Freedom" is characterized by an un­adorned narrative style and a dramatic ending which are associated with the best English folk-ballads. The singer tells simply and, one feels, with a grim impersonality of how his mistress promised to set him free; it seemed as if she would never die—but "she's somehow gone"! His master likewise made promises,
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