Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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religious significance, and which was known in the other islands and even in New Orleans; and Petro (which may be named after one of several historical personages named Pedro). Some of these cere­monies are parts of an elaborate ritual cycle known as the Congo-Guinee cycle; all include singing and dancing.
The relationship of the religious material to social dance and song is, in Latin American Negro culture, always a close one, and one that cannot always be explained. Some of the Haitian and Afro-Bahian ceremonial material has lost its religious significance and has become part of the social side of musical life. This is also true of the Candombe,3 a Uruguayan ritual dance performed at the time of the Mardi gras carnival in Montevideo. Here are found certain stock characters—the gramillero (an agile young dancer representing a tottering old man), an old Negro woman, a broom-maker, a drum­mer, and a trophy-bearer. These characters dance in the parade, but it is likely that they represent figures from the earlier time of slavery and the period after emancipation, when African cults and tribal rivalries dominated the life of the urban Negro community. It is interesting to find, also, that the musical style of the Negroes of South America varies according to their location in city or country. Thus, we have said that it is the urban Negroes in Brazil and Uru­guay who have held on to the African tradition more than their counterparts in rural areas.. But in Surinam, the city Negroes use music with a less African style than do the so-called "bush Negroes" who live in tightly knit communities with little outside influence from white or East Indian inhabitants of the country. In each case, however, it appears that ceremonial material (the music associated with the African-derived cults) has preserved more of the African character than has the music of secular and social provenience. The religious material is, in many cases, hardly to be distinguished from some of the music of West Africa. Rhythms, drum technique, and structure are essentially the same. There is, however, a tendency to use longer, strophic melodies than are usual in West Africa; and the scales, where they did not already conform rather closely to those typical of European music, seem to have been changed in that direc­tion.
3 Paulo de Carvalho Neto, "The Candombe," Ethnomusicology VII (1963), 164-74.

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