ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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96
NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
from the Old Testament or from the factory or construction gang with which he works. His concepts take concrete form and show dramatic action. We can know but little of the ballads to-day as of the past; can rarely tell whence they arise or whither they go, borne on what vagrant winds of fancy to ephemeral or permanent remem­brance, or to swift forgetfulness. They come as obscurely as the boll weevil which they celebrate, so that we cannot be sure just how or when; we can know only that they are here to-day, perhaps to re­main, or perchance to vanish as secretly as they appeared. Many, we may be certain, have sprung up, but failed of the fostering voice which might have carried them on to wider knowledge, of the friendly imagination which added to them here and there, while others no more worthy in themselves have happily caught the fancy of good "songsters'* and passed from lip to lip till many learned them and cherished them.
These ballads are crude, yes, but they have vitality, and they de­serve our study, since they are products of our own land, reflections of aspects of our own society. There is no need to scorn them on the ground that they were not made by gentlefolk, as some of the Eng­lish and Scotch ballads were; but we should do well to study them, both for their interest and for their association with the race from which they spring. If we would know the Negro, let us study his songs. Who can say to what extent the Negro's life has been shown in his songs, or how much they have influenced it?







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III