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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AFTERWORD
I HATE to say good-bye to this book. Writing the last words in it would be a downright grief, if it were not for the fact that I am planning several — oh, perhaps many I — more volumes on Negro folk-songs, and am already deep in the material for them. There is so much fascinating stuff that could not be crowded into this col­lection, that I had to begin on the other groupings before these pages were finished. I shall be tremendously grateful to any reader of this book who will send me the words, or music, or both, of any song he may know or may be energetic enough to chase down. I recommend the pursuit of songs as a reducing exercise — and high good fun in the bargain. One may get a song almost anywhere, under any cir­cumstances, if he is in earnest about it. I persuaded Arthur Guiter-man to chant softly for me a folk-song at a dignified dinner of the Poetry Society once, while I caught it on the menu card. A few weeks ago I enjoyed a tuneful musical comedy with William Alexan­der Percy, but the songs I heard between acts were better still, Negro songs that Mr. Percy sang quietly, for me to take down on a programme. Cale Young Rice gave me one in an aside at a dinner at the Columbia Faculty Club one evening. I met DuBose and Dorothy Heywood at tea at Hervey Allen's this spring, when they mentioned a rare specimen of Gullah dialect picked up in Charleston — the chant of "OP Egypt a-yowlin' " howling in a lonesome grave­yard. I begged to hear it, of course. They were modestly reluctant to howl in public at a tea, but they at last consented. It was extra­ordinary.
I have learned that you must snatch a song when you hear of it, for if you let the singer get away, the opportunity is gone. He will promise to write it down for you later, but that "later" rarely comes. Meanwhile, he is subject to all the chances of a perilous worlds where he may be killed on any street corner, taking the song with him. No, the instant present is the only surety. Songs die, too, as well as people, so that the only surety of life extension is to write them down at once.
I hope that I may some time spend a sabbatical year loitering down through the South on the trail of more Negro folk-songs, be­fore the material vanishes forever, killed by the Victrola, theTadio,







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