Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

The folk & traditional music of Europe, Africa & the Americas explored.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
songs for various events in a child's life (first words, first walking, etc.) were developed. The French have songs to urge a child to eat, to teach him to count, and so on. These are songs accompanying the so-called rites of passage which are important in practically every culture.
Also, there are songs involving the turning points in the year, such as the advent of spring, the summer and winter solstices, and the equinox. These have frequently been associated also with agricul­ture, and some have been attached, since the introduction of Chris­tianity, to Christian festivals. Thus, some pre-Christian winter solstice songs have become Christmas songs—as may have been the case of the popular German "O Tannenbaum." Pagan spring songs have sometimes become Easter or Whitsuntide songs. Again, these calen-dric song types are common in several nations of Europe.
Songs involving agriculture are also common, but more so in Eastern than in Western Europe. Perhaps these songs should be generally regarded as work songs, since some of them actually aid in the rhythm of work, while others, such as the short tunes used by the Lapps to call reindeer, are functional in labor but not in a rhyth­mic sense. Another type of agricultural song, simply describing the work, is not sung during work, however, but perhaps at social gath­erings in the evening. Again, work songs are found also in other continents, but they are more common in Europe than in most other areas; and, as before, we cannot say that their style differs apprecia­bly from the styles of European folk songs at large. Of course, a few types of work songs do have special musical styles. Thus the Tribbiera of Corsica (Example 3-9), a tvpe of work song sung while driving oxen around a small enclosure in which threshing is done, al­ways has a form consisting of two sections with words followed by a long, melismatic call.
Dance music is of course one of the main types of folk and eth­nic music throughout the world. In Europe it is one of the important genres, and accompanies two main types of dance. According to Herzog,4 the older dances are involved with rituals and ceremonies (round dances are especially characteristic here); these tend to be accompanied by relatively simple music. Dances that came into the
4 George Herzog, "Song," Funk and Wagnalls' Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend (New York, 1949-50), II, 1035.

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