THE PLAY-PARTY IN INDIANA - online book

Folk-Songs and Games with Descriptive Introduction, Notes, Sheeet music & Lyrics

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The Play-Party in Indiana.                        107
scales upon which many English folk-tunes are constructed are not the same as those with which we are familiar in modern music. They are generally known as Greek modes, and it is probable that among the Greeks the early scientific musicians derived their modal scales from a study of the folk-songs.80 Of the use of these' modes in English folk-music he says;81 "The majority of our English folk-tunes, say two-thirds,82 are in the major or ionian mode.83 The remaining third is fairly evenly divided between the mixolydian, dorian and aeolian modes, with perhaps, a preponder­ance in favour of the mixolydian. These figures have been com­piled from an examination of my own collection; but I believe they accord approximately with the experiences of other collec­tors." He says further that certain singers transpose (perhaps unconsciously) almost every song into one particular mode.84 Besides this, in certain localities there are preferences for particular modes.85
Among the children's songs of England the percentage of ionian tunes is very much higher. In fact we have not found one which does not have a tune in the ionian mode, no matter how many it may have in other modes. So it is nothing more than might be expected, that we find only one tune which does not conform to the ionian or major mode. It is also an interesting fact that this one song86 in the aeolian mode gives evidence of age.
The minor scale which is found only in composed tunes or in folk-airs that have suffered corruption is very singularly absent from the play-party songs. Much of the later folk-music of England, which got into operas and dance-books and even a part of that which is now in the possession of the folk has by means
80  C. J. Sharp. English Folk-Song, p. 36.
81   Ibid, p. 55.
82   Mr. Sharp (English Folk-Song, p. 55) makes the statement that, "with many folk singers the proportion of modal songs is much larger than one third, indeed some of them sing almost exclusively in the modes."
83  The following statement is, I think true of the American play-party songs as well as of English folk-songs but perhaps to a less degree.
"It is not necessary to attribute this large proportion of ionian tunes to modern influence, for the folk have always shown a special predilection for that mode. It was, indeed, because of its popularity with the common people that the Church dubbed it the 'modus lascivus,' and prohibited it from use in Divine Office." (C. J. Sharp. English Folk-Song, p. 55).
84  English Folk-Song. p. 126.
85  Lectures delivered before the Quadrangle Club and at the Little Theatre, Chicago, April 13 and 14, 1915.
86  Weevily wheat. Of this game, Mr. G. M. Miller (Univ. Studies. Univ. of Cincinnati. Ser. I, p. 31) says, "The song for the Virginia Reel was probably as old in parts as the original of the dance itself, the old Sir Roger De Coverly contra dance. Others going pretty far back were 'Weevily Wheat' and 'Pop Goes the Weasel,' "
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