Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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range of an octave or more, in which the lowest tone and its upper octave are the most important.
The melodic contours also have various types. Rather large ranges do seem to be characteristic of Africa. Europe has many songs with a range of less than a fifth, and relatively few (except for what appears to be recent material) having a range much larger than an octave. In African Negro music the number of pieces with a large range seems to be somewhat greater. Melodies move predominantly in three ways: 1) in a mildly undulating fashion, beginning on a low tone, rising gradually to a somewhat higher level, and returning to the low tone; 2) beginning on a high tone and descending; and 3) in what we may call a pendulum-like movement, swinging rapidly back and forth between high and low tones. Example 7-4 illustrates this pendulum-like movement, as well as the melodies made up largely of strings of thirds, discussed above.
example 7-4. Batwa Pygmy song (Ruanda), from Rose Brandel, The Music of Central Africa (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1962), p. 70.
In instrumental music, of course, melodic movement is more special­ized, for each instrument makes possible or convenient certain kinds of movement, range, and interval. Thus, melodies played on the mu­sical bow have a small range and use a melodic type clustering about one or two notes that are close together; horn music is likely to use larger intervals, while pendulum-like melody is more easily suited to the xylophone. We should also mention in this connection the great variety of tone colors achieved by the human voice. Yodeling, growling, raucous tones, and tense as well as relaxed singing are found. The imitation of animal cries and sounds of nature are a part of vocal music in Africa.
The feature of African music that has been most widely dis­cussed is rhythm, and evidently it has indeed been more highly de-

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